Hygienists, it’s time to Step Up!

June 1, 2005
Making a case for how laser technology improves (and saves) lives.

Making a case for how laser technology improves (and saves) lives.

My fellow hygienists:

It’s time to make a paradigm shift in periodontal therapy. It’s time to give our patients the care and level of service they deserve. It’s time to embrace change. It’s time to use the technology we have at our fingertips.

It’s time to step up.

Never before has periodontal disease been so prevalent. Never before have so many studies established the link between oral infection and systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and pre-term birth and low-birth weight.

How many of us have “watched” gingivitis, “watched” 4 mm pockets, “watched” gingival bleeding? Then we’ll tell the patient, “We’ll re-evaluate your condition during your next visit.”

How many of us check only the patient’s health history and not his or her entire family’s history? Is it not known that diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are hereditary?

Isn’t it our duty as health-care professionals to educate and treat our patients accordingly? Shouldn’t we use every means available to us to combat disease?

I would like to dispel any stories or myths you may have about the ineffectiveness of lasers. I want to spread the message about the advan-

tages of lasers, and propel laser technology into the mainstream of your practices.

We need to strive for early detection of disease, early eradication, and painless delivery of care, all of which are possible with laser technology. Let’s not wait for pain or embarrassment to drive patients to accept the care they deserve and need.

It’s time to step up.

Lasers have changed the way I have practiced hygiene the last five years. People like and seek out high-tech service, especially when it’s combined with high-touch care. Lasers are so accepted in all arenas of medicine, why not dentistry?

Surprisingly, the biggest obstacle is not influencing patients, but shifting our dated paradigms. We have to let go of our outdated teaching of four quadrants of root planing. There is so much at stake with the

patient’s overall health. Once you see the difference in tissue response with the laser, as well as the patient’s compliance, it will be much easier to enroll patients and improve their health through a laser therapy program.

The only obstacle is in our minds. When we believe in the importance of the treatment, so will our patients. They will feel our conviction. But hygienists cannot do it alone. The scheduling and financial administrator must also believe that when we treat a patient’s chronic mouth inflammation, we may be taking a life-saving measure as well.

“It’s time.” These are two of Dr. Janet Hatcher Rice’s favorite words. She is the current president of the Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD). “It’s time” is how she opened her address at the ALD’s Installation of Officers Ceremony. She shared how she uses these words to encourage patients to accept treatment. She plants the seeds and knows in her heart that now is the time. She then communicates this with incredible conviction to her patients.

I’m joining her to spread the word that “now is the time” to take action in not only treating periodontal disease, but in saving lives. I invite you to open your minds and embrace the new laser technology. Join me in stepping up!

Tricia Ceresa, RDH, has been practicing dental hygiene for more than 25 years. As a certified laser hygienist and laser safety officer, she now does dental laser therapy exclusively, specializing in the diode laser, with experience in the ER,Cr:YSGG laser as well. She is also a senior coach with Hygiene Mastery and supports hygienists nationwide with the implementation of new technology. Ms. Ceresa received her certification in human resources from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is a member of the Academy of Laser Dentistry, the Monterey Bay Dental Hygiene Association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, and the California Dental Hygienists’ Association. She can be reached at [email protected].


Journal of Academy of Laser Dentistry. Wavelengths/2004 Vol. 12 No. 2

Periodontal Medicine - Changing the Face of Dental Care by Ira B. Lamster, DDS, MMSC, and Evanthia Lalla, DDS, MS, from Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, April 2004

Access August 2004

How to implement laser technology for maximum results

Get certified! I’ve been in too many offices where the doctor and staff are not properly certified. The two-day courses are excellent and include an essential review of physics.

Hold a staff meeting so everyone is clear about the laser therapy protocol. The front desk needs to be prepared for insurance questions and fee schedules. The entire staff has to be enrolled in the program.

Treatment planning involves the big shift from quadrant root planing to site specific therapy.

Take the time you need to get the results you want.

Do a thorough periodontal evaluation that considers pocket depth, bleeding sites, furcations, recession, mobility, and, of course, family health history of any systemic diseases.

Class III patients may require six to eight appointments.

Patients with 7 mm pockets and heavy calculus limit you to work on only two to three teeth in one appointment.

Utilize the 4342 code for Selective Root Planing one to three teeth.

Schedule the patient’s appointments seven to 10 days apart to get adequate laser exposure.