Trends of Perio, Past and Future

Dec. 17, 2013
As we close the 100th anniversary year of dental hygiene, we can look back at how the profession has evolved over its first century.

by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

As we close the 100th anniversary year of dental hygiene, we can look back at how the profession has evolved over its first century. One area that has seen dramatic changes over the course of 100 years is in periodontics. How dental professionals view and treat periodontal disease has been enhanced over time with the advent of technology and our understanding of the disease process.

Sheree Duff, RDH, MS, in her "Clinical Periodontics for the Dental Hygienist" program, discusses current trends in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, along with a review of periodontal theories and treatments of the past. The reflection on the past contributes to a participant's understanding of how far we have come in understanding concepts related to periodontal disease.


Other articles by DePalma:


Sheree begins her program with a discussion of periodontal disease classifications and why the hygienist should understand each particular category of disease. A case-based discussion of both hand and power scaling techniques and instruments in treating the chronic, aggressive, and maintenance periodontal patients engage participants in real-world applications of current theories. Implant maintenance therapy, anti-microbial therapies, and hypersensitivity products are also reviewed. Program goals and objectives include:

  • Understanding changes in periodontal disease classifications that dictate the dental hygiene treatment plan for the advanced periodontal patient
  • Recognizing current perspectives on the patient clinical examination
  • Reviewing periodontal maintenance care
  • Discussing advanced instrumentation techniques, including comparing and contrasting hand vs. power scaling instruments and techniques
  • Appreciating periodontal dental hygiene care and its future

Additionally, Sheree presents programs on compliance and oral hygiene and is preparing several advanced instrumentation hands-on courses to complement the periodontal theory programs.

"Clinical Periodontics" is designed for hygienists, but Sheree encourages general dentists and teams to attend in the future to gain valuable information relevant to their individual practices. In order to provide patients with the best possible care, hygienists require dentists and the team to understand the tools needed to treat periodontal patients. Dentists and hygienists need to hear the scientific data used to support the use of products and techniques to treat disease. The rest of the team must understand that not all patients fit perfect guidelines, and custom treatment plans are essential to effective disease control. The interactive program is designed as an all-day program with reference materials that the hygienist can use the next day in practice.

Sheree is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry with a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene, and she obtained a master's degree in health care administration from Central Michigan University. When she initially started college, she had planned to be an accountant since she had enjoyed advanced math classes during high school and was very organized and detail oriented.

But as a freshman, an encounter with a dental school student who cleaned her teeth changed her life in many ways. The general dental student eventually became her husband and a periodontist! He initially encouraged her to pursue hygiene and she, in turn, encouraged him to return to school for his periodontal graduate degree. Sheree worked in clinical hygiene for over 10 years in a periodontal specialty practice and found she had a passion for the periodontal challenged patient and wanted to share her knowledge with others.

She has spent the past 20 years teaching dental hygiene students the concepts of periodontal disease with many of her former students stating she is an inspiration who makes learning fun. Her academic and periodontal passions flourished as she founded, developed, and was the Associate Dean of Dental Sciences of two separate dental hygiene programs at Baker College (Port Huron and Auburn Hills locations) with a focus on periodontics.

She began presenting CE courses when she and her husband were asked to present a course on periodontal disease at a community college. From there, she soon learned her passion for educating others extended beyond the classroom. Sheree and Dr. Benson Duff were married for nearly 30 years until his passing five years ago from cancer.

Sheree is passionate about her two children who serve as reminders to keep balance in her life, especially when the rigors of academic life begin to settle in. She is also passionate about teaching both students and faculty and enjoys mentoring individuals about concepts or techniques. Lastly, she is passionate about the clinical treatment of periodontal disease to improve lives.

She has been an ADHA member for as long as she can remember and recently retired from full time academia and is now seeking new challenges and goals. She would like to focus her time and energy on volunteer dental work, presenting more continuing education programs and generally continuing to make a difference in others lives. She would like dental hygiene programs to partner with larger universities to better transition current dental hygiene students, who possess almost a full bachelors degree, to complete their requirements upon dental hygiene graduation.

Sheree feels that that the amount of critical thinking and writing in a dental hygiene program would surprise the normal consumer. Hygienists are extremely well educated and with a full bachelor's degree that would solidify and verify the profession's knowledge and status while preparing for the future.

Dedicated, compassionate, and humorous are words Sheree uses to describe herself. Despite recent changes in her life, she remains passionate about dental hygiene and its future while expressing gratitude for successes she has had in both private practice and academia. She hopes to continue to spread her knowledge and expertise to others for years to come. Learning valuable life lessons from every patient and every student is a privilege for her, one that she is grateful to have had the opportunity to experience.

For more information on Sheree or her programs contact her at [email protected].

Thought for the month:
Happy Holidays and Happy, Healthy New Year to all!

This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!

-- D.M. Dellinger

Dental Handpiece Maintenance and Repair – 2 CEUs

The course for December is, "Dental Handpiece Maintenance and Repair." Use Code ANDEC13 for 50% off. The discount off regular price of $49 to $24.50 will last through Jan. 12, 2014.


Dental handpieces have evolved significantly over the years, and they remain a vital part of dentistry today. The care and maintenance of these instruments is essential to preserving not only the life of the instrument but its proper function as well.

While traditional air driven handpieces are still a mainstay in dentistry, electric handpieces are now being more widely used. The newest technology takes components from both electric and air driven handpieces.

Understanding how to clean and maintain these handpieces and their components properly will help the clinician achieve optimal results. Knowing when to replace or rebuild handpiece turbines and its pros and cons, and knowing who to send the handpiece to for repairs is essential for quality and turnaround times.

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