We all know that Periodontal Disease is a tricky topic to bring up with our patients! How do we bring it up? First things first, focus on the words you are using to portray the message you want patients to receive. 

Interesting how “bloody gums” becomes more emphatic when described as “hemorrhaging gum tissue!” The goal is to elicit behavior change and the focus on the “emotion” does just that. 

So how do we invoke and emotional response? By using graphic photos.  

“Mrs. Jones, let me show you an example of what permanent bone loss looks like!” From this conversation you can then assess the patient’s reaction and begin to motivate them to take action with statements like, “We need to arrest this process with appropriate therapy!  While we cannot correct periodontal disease, we can hopefully maintain it at this level and prevent further bone loss, leading to permanent tooth loss!  I sure would hate to see this happen to you.  What are your thoughts on this?”

The overall objective is to instigate patients to take action now, with a sense of urgency.  If we tip toe around the issue and use words like “might” or “some time” this causes patients to think that the “low level simmering disease” in their gums is OK!! Phrases like, “Procrastination is expensive” can move patients to action.  When doing your perio exam, call out findings and explain what the numbers mean, furcation, bone loss, bleeding gums etc,  This engages the patient in the process and raises responsibility levels in most.

People are shocked that Periodontal Disease is linked to various systemic conditions like:

- Heart disease

- Low Birth Weight

- Diabetes

- Erectile Dysfunction

Capitalize on that which is the “hot topic” of concern for the patient therefore causing the patient to want to get scheduled for treatment as soon as possible!

Patient education is always key in persuading them to take action.  Changes in stress levels, health, and diet could all be contributing factors in their change in periodontal health.  Begin your visit with “Is everything OK” if the patient appears out of sorts for example. Show that perio disease is below the gum line where there is no oxygen, therefore we need to provide therapy every 3 months for the rest of their life. Handle insurance objections if necessary with the need to keep their teeth. Provide take home information and clinical rinses and tooth paste like Peridex, and Clin Pro etc.

You are the catalyst for change, go “full throttle” in the name of patient dental health!