Since their founding in 1995, American Dental Partners, Inc. (ADPI) has made it their mission to empower dental professionals to deliver high quality, preventative care. Today, with 22 unique group practices in more than 285 locations nationwide, ADPI supports more than 800 dental hygienists with the resources they need to educate patients and positively impact the well-being of their communities. One of these resources is their practice of conducting Caries Risk Assessments.
Dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay, affects more than 97% of the global population at some point in their lifetime. ADPI has helped their supported affiliates create a process where hygienists are able to conduct a modified, evidence based Caries Risk Assessments and identify treatment and prevention methods that suit the unique needs of each patient.
Caries management by risk assessment, known as CAMBRA, is a method where the Dental Hygienist (or other clinician) considers a variety of risk factors to determine the cause of dental caries, and identify preventative solutions. These solutions may include a combination of behavioral changes, chemical based supplements (such as fluoride applications or a prescription strength home remedy), or minimally invasive procedures.
American Dental Partners has created an abbreviated form for dental hygienists to use to conduct these assessments. Instead of the lengthy, in-depth forms that are commonly used in academic circles, ADPI hygienists use a more simplified questionnaire designed to reveal the same environmental and behavioral risks associated with their patient. Data can be easily logged into the patient’s profile as part of their proprietary practice software. This information empowers the hygienist to focus on an individualized plan for the unique person that sits in front of them, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The use of caries risk assessments allows dental hygienists to partner with their patients and focus on preventative care and education. Instead of fixing a cavity, the goal is shifted to preventing tooth decay from starting in the first place. This autonomy, combined with in-house continuing education events, professional development opportunities, and leadership training, give Dental Hygienists a more well rounded base for establishing their career. They have the opportunity to become strong advocates for their patients, and reap the rewards of building lasting relationships with both their community and their peers.