February is Gum Disease Awareness Month and the perfect time to focus on the importance of periodontal health.
Unfortunately, bleeding gums don't concern a large portion of the population — but, as every dental professional knows, they should. Patients don't realize that bleeding gums can be a symptom of periodontal disease — so they brush it off and avoid the necessary care to stay healthy.
These patients aren't alone: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 47.2% of adults ages 30 and up have some form of periodontal disease. This number increases drastically to 70.1% in those 65 and older.
Many of these patients won't pursue treatment, and studies have shown that patients that don't attend regular periodontal maintenance appointments have more tooth loss than those who do. So how do you get these patients back on track? It starts with having an office culture focused on periodontal health and the importance of treatment compliance. Here are three solutions you can prioritize now:
Empower patients with education
Since 75% of periodontal disease can be diagnosed in the hygiene chair, helping patients understand their condition and the consequences of not getting treatment is essential to ensuring they engage with care. Communication between hygienists, dentists, treatment coordinators, and patients should be open, honest, and ongoing.
It's essential to explain to patients with periodontitis that this condition requires regular follow-up. Periodontitis can be destructive, resulting in bone loss which may eventually cause tooth loss if not addressed. Stress that halts the disease's progression requires specialized treatment along with lasting improvements in an oral hygiene routine — it takes both parties working together as a team for success!
Having resources such as printouts, handouts, and online educational materials is a great way to supplement a patient's understanding.
Be strategic with appointment-related communication
One of the most effective ways to ensure patients attend their periodontal follow-up is through proactive appointment reminders. Sending notifications (either verbal or digital) closer to the date of a recall appointment has been proven to increase patient attendance significantly.
How you communicate with patients is almost as important as what you communicate. By personalizing your reminder messages, such as creating templates with patient-specific information and addressing the patient by name, you can make them feel more comfortable and remind them of why their appointment is necessary.
You can also target patients' specific needs and concerns. For example, for a patient who has periodontitis but is worried about cost, you could send them information about financing or alternative coverage options available at your practice.
Remove cost barriers to care
Your office's greatest flight risk is patients without adequate dental coverage and unfortunately, the majority of patients cannot pay upfront for care. Given the limitations, exclusions, and nuances of traditional coverage options, membership plans offer the simplest and most profitable solution to make necessary preventive and treatment services more accessible.
With traditional coverage options like dental insurance and discount plans, patients are stuck dealing with enrollment processes that often come with delays in benefits which leads to more roadblocks in order to receive necessary treatment.
An innovative membership plan solution powered by Kleer can help simplify enrollment and provide immediate access to care — increasing the likelihood of catching periodontal problems early and maximizing opportunities for education and discussion around treatment options.
When an office utilizes a Kleer-powered membership plan:
- Patients can sign up in your office or from any device and select the plan that best serves their preventive or periodontal dental needs.
- Only a patient name, phone number, email address, and payment are required to enroll.
- The sign-up process takes less than 2 minutes, and benefits start immediately. Once enrolled, patients can review benefits, manage payments, add family members, and contact your office from the Kleer Patient Portal.
Patients who receive periodontal care have better health outcomes
Patient education and removing cost barriers are essential for driving treatment compliance for periodontal disease. When patients return regularly and are confident in accepting recommendations for further treatment, it simultaneously increases overall practice performance and profitability. Ultimately, the benefits create a symbiotic win-win for the practice and a patient's periodontal health.
To learn more about how Kleer's membership platform can support your periodontal patients and provide an improved patient experience, request a consultation today.