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Voice recognition software

Dec. 1, 2017
Few dental hygienists have access to an assistant to help with comprehensive periodontal charting. Many even neglect ADHA recommendations by only charting pockets of 5 mm or above. Voice recognition software for the dental hygienist can greatly improve this situation and even get the patient more involved in his or her diagnosis.
Periodontal Charting
Verbal charting increases patient engagement

By Amber Auger, RDH, MPH

Hygienists are often faced with the challenge of completing a comprehensive periodontal charting on our own. Many of us have struggled to keep barriers on while we turn from patient to computer. The data we need to document seems impossible to obtain in a timely manner. Some dentists recognize the importance of a hygiene assistant. However, the majority of hygienists are left running behind or neglecting the ADHA recommendations for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation by only charting 5 mm and above. Voice recognition software is a solution to avoid compromising clinical treatment, and to identify areas of disease early.

The ADHA recommends comprehensive periodontal charting to be performed at a minimum of once per year, and at every maintenance appointment for periodontally involved patients. To be deemed comprehensive, the charting must include “six-points-per-tooth pocket depths, recession, areas of mobility, bleeding points, purulent discharge, attachment loss, [radiographs] and/or periodontal diagnosis.”1 Therefore, periodontal examinations without this are considered incomplete, as each area of data and radiographs are needed to properly diagnose the patient.

VoiceWorks, created by the makers of Florida Probe, uses voice recognition technology to assist clinicians in documenting comprehensive periodontal charts through the use of a headset.2 The clinician creates a personal voice file on the software, allowing the computer to recognize his or her specific voice, tone, and pitch. In addition, the technology allows the clinician to continue to use his or her current probe and pattern of charting, and avoids the need for another team member to transcribe. Increasing the efficiency and details of the charting allows the clinician to focus on education. The esthetically pleasing charting documents show unhealthy pockets in red, calculate the percentage of bleeding and of sites at each pocket depth level, and include a risk analysis assessment to calculate the patient’s specific risks due to his or her systemic health.

When collecting and documenting the comprehensive periodontal chart with voice recognition, the patient can connect the discomfort of the inflamed pockets to the depth of the pockets. For example, when you are audibly announcing pockets of 4 mm or greater as you probe them, the patient will experience increased tenderness at these sites.

Once the examination is complete, the patient often urgently requests a detailed explanation of the exact meaning of the probing depths and bleeding. This mode of collecting data is not only more time efficient for the clinician, it also increases the patient’s awareness of his or her specific oral health condition. Furthermore, comprehensive periodontal charting empowers clinicians to diagnose the first signs of periodontal disease through the documentation of all bleeding and 4 mm pockets.

Additionally, VoiceWorks software includes customizable educational tools to increase patient engagement and treatment urgency. Templates allow for product recommendations to be listed, as well as printable periodontal charts to reinforce site-specific areas for the patient to focus on. Each time a new exam is completed for the patient, a colored arrow at the top of the exam is listed to demonstrate if the pocket has remained the same (black), increased in depth (red), or decreased in depth (green). The arrows become a powerful educational tool to motivate the patient to continue their current oral care regime or improve their home care.

Comprehensive periodontal charting empowers clinicians to diagnose the first signs of periodontal disease and increases the patient’s awareness of the oral-systemic health link. Encourage your team to research VoiceWorks, which has a free chairside trial of 90 days. Without comprehensive charting, the doctor cannot legally diagnose. As hygienists, we cannot accept soft-tissue neglect as our standard of care. The solution for efficient and complete periodontal evaluations is voice recognition software!

Amber Auger, RDH, MPH, is a hygienist with experience in multiple clinical settings, including facilities abroad. Amber obtained a master’s degree in public health from the University of New England and a bachelor’s in dental hygiene from the University of New Haven. She holds a part-time position at an elite dental office in Boston. Amber Auger is a key opinion leader for several dental companies, speaker and published author, and can be contacted at


1. Blair C. Coding with Confidence. CDT 2016 ed. Belmont, North Carolina: Practicon; 2015.