by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH
Periodontology has changed over recent years to become a more total health-centered approach to treatment. Surgical therapies have been enhanced with nonsurgical advances. Understanding the host response and the cascade of events that occur during periodontitis is an important ideal in providing optimum treatments for our patients.
Leah MacPherson, RDH, MPH, has developed a program titled “Concepts in Nonsurgical Periodontal Therapy” that discusses these and other important considerations when providing total periodontal care. She focuses on the latest American Academy of Periodontology classification systems and diagnosis modalities while reviewing the microbiology of periodontal disease, including the use of systemic and locally delivered antibiotic therapies. Leah also presents programs on power scalers, sharpening, and other hands-on workshops.
The primary goal of the periodontal program is to keep participants current in nonsurgical periodontal therapies. Leah wants hygienists to integrate research throughout clinical practice. She understands that it is often difficult to change the way one practices, since either “that was the way we were taught” or “it has always been done that way.” Unfortunately those beliefs do not help patients reach their oral health goals. Leah challenges participants to think beyond what they normally do in clinical practice and see the benefits of learning new skills and protocols.
In her hands-on programs, her personal goal is to improve participants' techniques no matter where they are in clinical practice, whether a seasoned professional or a recent graduate. These clinical improvements may be learning a new “trick” or refining basic instrumentation skills to enhance clinical outcomes and effectiveness. Learning objectives of the programs include:
- Discussion of advances in periodontology
- Identification of periodontal risk factors
- Review of instrument design for hand and power scaling instruments
- Demonstration of advanced fulcrums and advanced instrumentation techniques for effective periodontal treatment
Although keeping current with new and evolving science is an important part of being a dental professional, Leah appreciates hesitation on the part of participants and difficulties in staying as current as possible. She provides a bibliography of recent studies hygienists and dentists can take home and review. The programs are provided as PowerPoint presentations, but Leah admits these are used only as “talking points” to which she can refer. She enjoys providing informal program sessions where participants are free to discuss various topics relevant to the program. Her programs are highly interactive, depending on the level the participants choose.
Leah is a graduate of Westbrook College (University of New England) with a degree in dental hygiene. She continued her education at Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy), with an advanced degree in dental hygiene. She completed her master's degree at Northeastern University. While at Forsyth, she was mentored by an amazing group of individuals, from Dr. Sigmund Socransky and Maryanne Cugini to Linda Hanlon, Kathy Eklund, Robyn Olson, Janet Towle, and many other incredible dental professionals. They inspired in her the love of perio, education, and research, which she wants to impart to others.
Leah currently is a professor at Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Mass., where she teaches periodontology, local anesthesia, dental hygiene 1, and clinic. She feels that for the dental hygiene profession to move forward, we need to focus on our roles and ways to improve individual jobs, careers, and the profession so we can make progress rather than always being on the defensive. Leah is passionate about her family, friends, and students and is determined and enthusiastic about dental hygiene education. And dental hygiene is enthusiastic about her programs as well!
For information about Leah and her programs, e-mail [email protected].
About the Author
Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene, member of ADHA and other professional associations. Ann-Marie presents continuing-education programs for hygienists and dental team members and has written numerous articles on a variety of topics. She can be reached at [email protected].