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Letters: Scaling, root planing

March 19, 2018

Dental insurance companies are a thorn in the side of providers, and they are adept at creating frustrations by delaying and denying justifiable claims. In the Feb. 5, ADA News article "ADA Resources Can Help Dentists With Scaling, Root Planing Claims Process," author David Burger notes that periodontal scaling and root planing have the highest frequency of dental claims denial. I agree with the article, and there is a reason for this high frequency of denial. Deep scaling and root planing is the most over utilized and abused modality in dentistry. Ethical dentists will readily attest to the fact that second opinions for the procedure inarguably demonstrate that the procedure is frequently not justified. Because the indication for deep scaling and root planing is highly subjective, the procedure is ripe for abuse. I can't recall a single article in our literature that addresses this ethical dilemma. State dental boards and organized dentistry have been disturbingly silent about this overutilization.

The relative dearth of demand for dental procedures that have historically occupied dentists, in conjunction with the over production of dentists we have witnessed over the last decade or so have cultivated the environment that has fostered the overutilization of deep scaling and root planing we now witness. Dentists will unfortunately, but understandably, seek to justify their existence.

Stephen D. Carter, D.D.S.
Snellville, Georgia