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Who Should Perform Dental Scaling? Essay

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Updated: Mar 13th, 2022

Introduction

Periodontal therapy or removing etiologic agents in the dental system is a serious undertaking that requires similarly serious attention and handling. If not well handled it may lead to dental plaque, inflammation, or other unwanted complications. The processes involved in dental scaling include the removal of teeth stain, plaque, and calculus from the root surfaces and the crown. It is therefore imperative that a qualified person is left with the business of dental scaling. There is a danger today in medical or dental officials of delegating such tasks to junior officials at the expense of more qualified personnel for unconvincing reasons such as low cost of payment (Lory, 2009).

Dental scaling

The profession of dental hygienists is in danger of major decline after the introduction of legislative bills in some states allowing board-approved assistants to carry out dental scaling. Such legislation would mean that licensed and more qualified dental hygienists will have fewer responsibilities as they are delegated to dental assistants (Lory, 2009). Should a responsibility of that nature be left to a less qualified person when there is the availability of qualified people who have received extensive training on dental scaling? I have nothing against on job training. What I am against is giving a medical responsibility to a less qualified person when a qualified person is available.

Dental scaling and periodontal care require licensed individuals such as dentists and dental hygienists to perform these procedures. One of the reasons cited for approving dental assistants to perform dental scaling is the shortage of dental hygienists. Dentists in the state of Kansas for instance have described the shortage of dental hygienists as widespread while others say it is restricted to rural areas. The state of Kansas in 1998 changed the law to allow dental assistants to scale supraliminal parts and polish the tooth. A licensed dental hygienist or a dentist is however required to complete the cleaning (Hinton, 2007). In my opinion, this is not only tedious but also wastes time. All the work of dental scaling and periodontal therapy should be left to one individual.

Another question that arises in this procedure is whether the client is aware that the individual attending him or her is not sufficiently trained in dental scaling. Dental hygienists are for instance trained extensively in preventive medical care, oral hygiene, cleaning, scaling, and root planing. They not only provide instructions for suitable dental care but also take prescribed radiographs and dental sealants. They, therefore, have wide-ranging skills and scope on dental matters. In my opinion, any patient requiring dental scaling would be inclined to think that a qualified person is taking care of him or her. Plenty of dental assistants can and have performed dental scaling. But the question is whether I would trust a dentist or his assistant to perform periodontal therapy on me. I would require my dentist to perform those tasks and not his or her assistant. If the dentist is not available to perform those duties, then I would require the services of a qualified and licensed individual and in this case a dental hygienist. If an unwanted complication or an unexpected development occurs, I am not convinced that a dental assistant would be able to handle the situation. The assistant will have to call the dentist to examine the situation. For this reason, I would rather have one qualified and licensed individual taking care of my dental problems.

Conclusion

Dental associations have cited the reason for allowing dental assistants to perform periodontal care as due to the shortage of dental hygienists (Hinton 2007). In my opinion, this is not the solution but rather aggravates the problem. Dental associations should instead come up with programs geared towards increasing the number of dental hygienists.

References

  1. Hinton, Barbara J.: (2007) overview of dental scaling issues.
  2. Laughter, Lory: (2009) Not my doctor.
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IvyPanda. 2022. "Who Should Perform Dental Scaling?" March 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/who-should-perform-dental-scaling/.

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