Substitute therapies

I am responding to the article RDH recently published, "The Ease of a Squirt" (January, 2000). I am appalled and ashamed that a magazine supposedly devoted to the betterment of the dental hygiene profession would print such trash.

Dear RDH:

I am responding to the article RDH recently published, "The Ease of a Squirt" (January, 2000). I am appalled and ashamed that a magazine supposedly devoted to the betterment of the dental hygiene profession would print such trash.

Too many dental hygienists and dentists already fool themselves into believing that they are able to provide "periodontal specialty care," while lacking the skill and education to support their claims. Irresponsible and inaccuratearticles such as "Squirt" only make matters worse, and act as a perfect illustration of just how naive and under-educated many dental health care providers are.

Quality periodontal careis much more than a production booster. Many general dentists and dental hygienists do not like to hear this, but they must "get over it," and recognizetheir patient`s best interests.Too many dentists and hygienists get caught in the supervised neglect or "soft tissue management" trap. More importantly, dentists and hygienists must know and admit their limitationswhen providing periodontal therapy in the general practice setting.Case Type I and II periodontitis can usually be treated adequately in general practice. Anything more, and the patient should be referred for specialty evaluation/care.

In our periodontal specialty practice, it usually takestwo years of comprehensive training to prepare/teach a hygienist to meet the challenge of providing quality periodontal therapy to patients, despite previous work experience. Scaling and root-planing well is a very demanding, difficult, and technique-sensitive skill that some hygienists never fully develop.

As a result, many so-called "substitute" therapies have become a common practice. While some of the newer adjuncts and modifications to traditional periodontal therapy are useful in proper context, it is unfortunate that many providers are using these products/techniques as a substitute for adequate periodontal care. Worse yet, many dental professionals seem to use these technological and/or pharmaceutical adjuncts as an excuse for providing inadequate, poor quality periodontal therapy for their patients.

Dental providers must be aware, ethical, and educated, striving for quality.A truly competent health care provider recognizes that there is alwaysmore to learn, and that no one knows it all.

Terri Gallion-Osmon, RDH, BS

Flint, Michigan

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