As registered health care providers in New Zealand we must comply with the requirements and guidelines laid out for us by the New Zealand Dental Council.
These state that any patient wishing to see a dental hygienist must have their oral conditions fully assessed and diagnosed by a dentist first. That dentist must then determine if an appointment with a dental hygienist is appropriate, i.e. the patient may have advanced gum disease and require treatment with a periodontist (gum specialist) instead (this is, the treatment needs of the patient could go beyond the scope of practice for a dental hygienist). The dentist also needs to ascertain if there are more pressing needs in the patient’s mouth which should be dealt with first.
Once you have seen a dental hygienist, it is likely they will advise a regular maintenance appointment for you every 2-12 months depending on your gum health. Similarly, you may need to see the dentist every 3-12 months for re- examination appointments depending on your overall oral and medical health.
We understand that a lot of people have limited time these days and convenience is always appreciated, so it makes sense to book both the dentist and hygienist together, so you only need to come once rather than twice. When we do this we also offer a fee reduction for the dental exam from $80 to $55 (plus the fee for any necessary x-rays).
At McKeefry Dental we call these “joint appointments” – they are a team approach to looking after your oral health. We, the dentist and the hygienist, can discuss all areas of your mouth to collaborate on the best plan for you moving forward.
Should you wish to have a separate examination appointment with the dentist prior to having your hygiene appointment, you are welcome to do so at the regular $80 fee (plus the fee for any necessary x-rays).
If you are ‘overdue’ for your examination by some time you must be re-diagnosed by the dentist first before returning to having these “joint appointments”.
Responsibilities of the dentist/dental specialist – New Zealand Dental Council:
“Examination and timely advice on procedures
In relation to examination and timely advice on procedures and in keeping with the clinical guidance and/or clinical supervision relationship between the dental hygienist and dentist/dental specialist, the dentist/dental specialist should:
a) be the first team member to examine any new patient
to a practice to diagnose the disease processes for that patient – the dentist/dental specialist formulates an overall dental care plan and makes a referral to the hygienist where appropriate;
b) be responsible for the initial assessment of the patient’s medical history (as part of the patient’s overall treatment plan) and be available for advice regarding the subsequent medical history reassessments performed prior to, but associated with, on-going hygiene treatment/maintenance;
c) collaborate with the dental hygienist regarding the ongoing periodontal health status of the patient receiving hygiene treatment – the dentist/dental specialist should provide an ongoing yearly review of the periodontal status of the patients within his/her practice;”