The Difference Between a “Dental Chart” and a “Periodontal Chart”


Not all dental charting is created equal.  Sure, there is the standard set of 32 teeth, and everyone should chart restoratively as well as record pocket depths, but our experience shows that there is a vast difference between how a General Dentist and a Periodontist chart cases.

The key here is not only in which data fields are recorded but also how the recorded data are viewed.

Dentists typically do not collect detailed clinical information beyond the status of their restorative needs and when they do it's often just screening data (CPITN or BPE).  They usually will refer patients when they find periodontal issues such as deep probing depths or mucogingival deformities.  As a result, most dental software products especially those included in practice management software, are only designed to accommodate the general dentist’s needs and leave an open-ended platform if further analysis or documentation/ details are required.

Dental charting often includes a separate chart for restorative findings and for probing depths.  When treatment planning it is vital to readily see both detailed periodontal data and the restorative condition in one view.  Since general dentists are mostly concerned about recording data related to the dentition itself, their charts tend to focus on the progression of decay and the status of existing and or planned restorations.

So, for Periodontists, it’s much more complex as we consider everything around the tooth that supports the dentition.  Multiple disciplinary clinical evaluation is often necessary, and a robust matrix of views to compare findings and their calculations can significantly impact the efficacy of the process.

The following data collection components are essential for comprehensive Periodontal charting.

  1. Attachment levels/ loss- calculation
  2. Furcation with a class II horizontal component
  3. Gingiva
  4. Bleeding and Suppuration points
  5. Plaque and Calculus
  6. Mobility
  7. Comparisons

So, what makes for a great Periodontal chart?

3 key elements of effective Periodontal charting.

  1. Speed and efficiency.

Even the most efficient Periodontists’ take upward of 20 minutes or more to collect the necessary data to be recorded for a full periodontal examination.  When a charting platform is limited to what data can be entered and or requires extensive efforts to collect the data, there is no possible way to complete it accurately within the short time allotted.  The only way to enter information quickly and in real-time is to have the right type of environment, robust enough to include all the necessary components, but without manual effort.

One of the most overlooked components of manual chart entries is the time added to your workload when the findings do not have a place on the odontogram itself.  The clinician is then required to draft each entry from scratch.  Every time the chart entry is drafted from the ground up it's like “reinventing the wheel” and is the primary reason for chart completion backlog. 

  1. The ability to automatically calculate attachment levels saves time and reduces manual efforts.

The mental energy it takes to manually calculate things such as attachment levels, not only take up unnecessary mental bandwidth but also limit the judgment and capacity of the entire team.  When calculations are already being created as the data is entered, it eliminates the need for your team to guess and or wait for the answers/ results.  And it's tidier.  Neat!

We are in the age of computer technology.  It's counterintuitive and unnecessary to make calculations manually.  It leaves too much room for error and reduces the productivity of the entire practice.

  1. Comprehensive side by side comparison views.

Flipping pages back and forth comparing data between visits is not only exhausting and confusing, but it also leaves more room for error.  Periodontists often evaluate several years in comparison all at one time.  PANDA Perio enables you to toggle between up to 5 visits all on one page so that no detail is overlooked.  Take a look at how PANDA compares periodontal charting click here.

In summary, the primary reason to use a specialty Periodontal chart as opposed to using a chart for general dentist boils down to bandwidth.  Periodontists are usually storing detailed information in their minds and often adapt to doing extra work. Even though Periodontists themselves are trained to tolerate this level of detail manually, there is the danger that they can become so immersed in the details they more easily lose sight of the bigger picture.  Studies show that spending much of your resources on details which could be automated, detracts from your bottom line and productivity.

Periodontists often ask: Why PANDA Perio and what makes it stand out among all the other products on the market?

PANDA Perio excels and is superior to other products for the Periodontal practice because it was designed by Periodontists.  Our co-founders spent years negotiating various options until they concluded that it had to be very comprehensive in the way data is collected, and somewhat flexible and customizable to address their individual needs since this can vary significantly between each provider.  It's so customizable that there are already fields to record and track potential COVID-19 cases.

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