Can a Perio department be profitable for your dental practice?

Recently I have been doing research with my clients to see what percentage of their patients are being treated for Periodontal disease. It has been very eye opening for myself as well as the doctors. The average has been under 20%! According to the ADA, the CDC and RDH magazine, it is between 50-80% of your patients have periodontitis. So the $400K question is why are only 20% being treated?

I think there are a few answers to this question. First, we are probably treating most of these patients for periodontitis but only billing for a healthy mouth cleaning. If your hygienist is spending 20-30 minutes with a Cavitron in their hand, but billing for a D1110, you are just leaving money on the table and billing incorrectly. I am finding that this is way more common than most doctors realize. The reason for this, is we are afraid to tell the patient that their oral health has deteriorated and perhaps we have been over treating and under billing. Fear is the answer for sure.

The second reason I find many patients aren't being treated for Periodontitis is because there appears to be confusion the definition. Just seeing the range in prevalence between the ADA, CDC and RDH magazine proves this. How can all 3 sources have a range of 50-80% of your patients have periodontitis? I am not a clinician thus can't answer this question for you. I would suggest that the doctor and hygienist have a sit down to discuss this and if needed, get your favorite Periodontist to do a lunch and learn for you on this topic. They clearly will have the answer.

Once you get on the same page regarding the diagnosis, what impact will treating this disease have on your practice? Well of course, the answer varies a bit depending on your fee for doing D4910. But it could be as high as $1000 per day with two double quadrants per day. How would you like to have another $1000 per hygienist? I would think it might be worth some discussion. If that figure is accurate for you and you have 2 hygienists, it could add up to $400,000 per year!!! I hope I have your attention with that figure.

Clearly the economics of treating Perio can be profitable for any dental practice. You will need a plan in place on how to communicate the change in need to the patients so they accept and schedule treatment. This will be a crucial step. If you have questions on how to do this please feel free to contact one of our coaches and they will guide you.

To learn more, watch the video below.

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