By Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH
Researching new technologies to assist in improving treatment outcomes for periodontal patients is an important aspect of dental hygiene practice. Dental hygienists are at the forefront of initiating the use of these technologies, such as the integration of dental endoscopy.
Suzanne Newkirk, RDH, has developed a program called "Perioscopy: The New Gold Standard in Nonsurgical Periodontal Therapy" to educate dental professionals about the benefits of using perioscopy in daily practice. Suzanne strives to make the evidence-based program fun-filled while delving into the advantages perioscopy can provide periodontal patients. Dental endoscopy provides real-time video imaging, which enables clinicians to diagnose and treat the closed subgingival periodontal pocket with visualization using magnification and illumination. Dental endoscopy goes beyond identifying calculus that had previously been felt blindly, to diagnosing resorption, root fractures, root perforations, caries, open margins, and cervical enamel projections. Suzanne's objectives for this program include:
- Recognizing why the gold standard of nonsurgical periodontal therapy is still based on the complete removal of the subgingival bacterial bioburden.
- Learning how subgingival pathologies and anomalies may affect patient treatment outcomes in nonsurgical periodontal therapy.
- Understanding the clinician's limitations in "blind instrumentation" and when to refer to other professionals.
Numerous studies have indicated the difficulty in determining the thoroughness of subgingival instrumentation. The clinical limitations of instrumentation of gingival pockets greater than 5 mm are well documented. Using the dental endoscope, dental professionals can diagnose and treat simultaneously with no guesswork to provide thorough debridement and care. Since the endoscope visualizes the tooth/root surface, any pathologies or abnormalities in structure can be seen, which provides the patient with comprehensive care. Suzanne has always been interested in researching and developing new treatment modalities, and the endoscope has enabled her to provide optimum care for her patients and to educate other professionals about the technology.
In addition to the endoscopy program, Suzanne offers "Good to Great Dental Hygiene." With references to James Collins' book, "Good to Great," Suzanne has created a program of discovery for hygienists to move their career from good to great. Objectives of the program include:
- Recognizing how leadership and collaboration enhance the dentist/hygienist roles.
- Understanding the factors that cause someone to be only good, and how to transition to greatness.
- Discovering how systems and protocols improve office efficiency and patient outcomes.
- Discussing ways to improve patients' periodontal and restorative health while increasing practice profitability.
Suzanne believes that all team members can benefit from this program. Many hygienists feel like they're working in a silo with minimal interaction with the rest of the team. Practices that have moved beyond the "silo of hygiene" mentality have shown an increase in coordination and efficiency in all departments. This coordination model improves patients' overall health while increasing the practice's bottom line, which is a win-win for all.
Suzanne presents her programs in PowerPoint with videos, discussion, and an audience response system. The audience response system encourages participants to ask questions throughout the program and allows Suzanne to tailor the program to the needs of the audience.
Suzanne received her AAS in dental hygiene from the University of Anchorage after having graduated with an AA in liberal arts from Pierce College in Southern California. She began presenting CE programs after working with a periodontist in
Washington State who asked her to coordinate his dental hygiene study club. She and Robert Gottlieb, DDS, have presented programs across the country, including several presentations at both the ADA and ADHA annual sessions.
Suzanne received her dental laser certification from the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry. She has contributed to two dental textbooks, "Minimally Invasive Periodontal Therapy: Clinical Techniques and Visualization Technology," published by John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2014, and "Dental Hygiene: Applications to Clinical Practice," published by FA Davis, 2016.
A move from Seattle to Georgia opened a new door for Suzanne. Washington is a very liberal state for practicing hygienists compared to Georgia, which has one of the most restrictive dental hygiene practice acts in the country. Suzanne wanted to be part of moving the profession forward in Georgia. She has been acting GDHA chair of governmental affairs for three years, and moved up the ranks to become the GDHA president-elect. She's enjoying the enthusiasm that so many of her fellow GDHA volunteers have for the profession.
Her biggest concern right now for the dental hygiene profession is the lack of autonomy. Depending on where a hygienist resides, the lack of respect by organized dentistry for dental hygiene education is a major concern. But she is grateful for the opportunities dental hygiene has afforded her. She said the highlights of her career are speaking at ADA and ADHA, and being a textbook contributor.
As a periodontal therapist, dental hygiene coach, and mentor, Suzanne makes it her priority to educate dental professionals to provide outstanding, diagnosis-driven treatments while being dedicated to implementing superior patient-centered care. She believes in finding one's love for dental hygiene, and in loving what you do.
For more information on Suzanne or her programs, contact [email protected].
Thought for the month: Wishing all a happy holiday season and all the best both professionally and personally in 2017. RDH
ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at [email protected].