Ask Kara RDH: What would you do if you’re being questioned on probing depths?

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My Director of Operations had her friend come in for a cleaning last week. She had not been to the dentist for ten years but has excellent hygiene. My Director of Operations got mad at me because she didn’t need a deep cleaning. Probing depths were healthy with no bone loss or inflammation present. She is now having the Owner question me but won’t say anything to me personally. I have never been questioned about my probing depths. Now they are posting a job opening at my office but say it’s to add a part-time position, which I find hard to believe due to us being slow. Advice, please!

This is not a fun situation to be in at all. You are abiding by the standard of care. Meaning, you are treating the patient according to what they present with; if they present healthy, there’s no need to commit malpractice and over-treat. The Director of Operations, of all people, should understand this; even if only for liability purposes.

I’m going to go ahead and assume there was a doctor exam, so the doctor that saw this patient should be able to back your treatment choices. You may want to have a chat with them about this patient.

Don’t hesitate to show the patient’s radiographs to whoever decides to talk to you. Point out the fact there’s no bone loss, radiographic calculus, widened PDL, etc. Justify yourself using facts. Have them talk to the doctor who did the exam too.

It does seem deceptive to tell you the job posting is for hiring another hygienist when the office is slow. Unfortunately, you will have to let that one play out to see if they are truthful. If they do let you go, I would encourage you to look at is a blessing in disguise. An office that doesn’t back up your treatment recommendations and wants you to over-treat isn’t an office you should work at. Further, you should work in an office that shares your patient care standards. I really hope this isn’t the case and just an isolated incident. I wish you the very best of luck!

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Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP
Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP, is a co-founder and the chief content officer of Today’s RDH, an independent educational publishing company for dental hygienists, encompassing articles, a podcast, virtual continuing education events, and self-study continuing education. Today’s RDH was launched in 2018 after Kara built her social media presence with her largest following on her Facebook page, Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH, which was created in 2013. An Oregon Institute of Technology graduate, Kara has a deep passion for spreading knowledge about the importance of oral health and its association with systemic health. Kara’s passion extends to helping other hygienists understand current protocols and evidence-based research – all with the goal of lifting dental hygienists and the dental hygiene profession. Kara was recognized in 2020 as one of the Top 100 Women in Media for her entrepreneurship as a co-founder of Today’s RDH. In 2022, she was recognized by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association for their Standout Seven Award in the Entrepreneur category. Kara lives in Vancouver, Washington, just outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Ben, and their four Chihuahuas. When she’s not working, Kara loves riding the Oregon Dunes on her quad, spoiling her Chihuahuas, and spending time with her close-knit family.