The biggest fear Periodontists face when introducing the new AAP classification system on staging and grading

Uncategorized Jan 10, 2020

“Will my referring doctors accept it?”

Communicating with your referring doctors is paramount to maintain loyalty with your referral base.  Communication disruption due to confusion in information delivery can be very unsettling for the referring practice. 

Once your referring practices become accustomed to you and they understand your style of communication, they rely on consistency.  They want to feel confident with you just as though you were an integral part of their own team.

Referring patients to you requires an establishment of trust by both the referring doctor and the patient.  If you are unable to articulate your message clearly the entire system can become disrupted.

Miscommunication is a common problem and often, it's attendant misunderstanding will lead to the wrong conclusion on the part of both patient, and doctor.

It may seem like change would be a difficult thing for them to accept.  By the same token, no one wants to be left behind in a field as rapidly changing as dentistry.  Neither are they willing to be considered antiquated in their own practices while others embrace the newest, and best techniques.

So, what do they really want?

Your referring doctors look to you to keep them apprised and up to date of the latest advances in the specialty of Periodontology.  This may not mean they will adopt every single idea and philosophy, but they are looking to you for the answers.   

The problem is, very few people have time to fully educate themselves on every topic. Only so much time is available for doctors to commit toward education and they must focus most of their educational energy on topics affecting their own practices, and goals.  

If they start to feel confused or left out of the loop, they could potentially seek the information from a different provider who appears to have more to offer them. 

The question to be answered is:

"How can you help them?"

Don’t surprise them.

While it may seem that giving them the information in advance would take more time, the reality is that if you send them something quick, simple and tangible, they will have an opportunity to read it at their leisure and digest the contents.

Send them a letter in advance of the change to explain what to expect.  PANDA Perio offers a FREE sample letter in our downloadable AAP classification quick reference guide (click here to get the guide)

Remember, tailor the information delivered to your audience.

Education by fire hose does not produce the same results as a bit more gradual, and easier to understand introduction.   

Don’t send them the entire manuscript from attending a fully-fledged Periodontal course.  Narrow it down to just the pertinent information they would use.  Explain how it relates to the care they provide, be sure to focus on the viable part relating to THEIR practice.  Supporting the patient through the Periodontal process in your practice can only happen via careful coordination with their practice.

Use simple links to resources so they know where to go if they want more information. (PANDA Perio also offers a FREE AAP classification quick reference guide that has been narrowed down for the general dental practice. (Click here to get the guide)


Open the door of communication to welcome questions.

Be sure to remind them that you are there for them and have their best interests at heart.  This is key; we all want to win by providing the latest, and best procedures thereby becoming exceptional in the eyes of our patients.

Let them know that this change has been difficult and confusing for many people and they are not alone if they are feeling unsure.  Encourage them to come to you for questions feedback and of course always suggestions.

Your referring doctors will love it if they feel like you are welcome to their suggestions and how their case presentation is being delivered to the patient.

Maybe they will opt to discuss most of the staging and grading ramifications in their own consultations, potentially making your job much easier!

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