What it Takes to Succeed at CAMBRA Implementation

You want more for your patients. The endless cycle of drill and fill, the time spent breaking bad news to patients who are feeling hopeless about staying cavity free—you are done with equaling misery in your patients’ minds. You’ve done your research and you’re confident that CAMBRA methods provide you with a meaningful way to treat your patients and break the misery cycle. Now you’re left with the big question, i.e., how do you start? How do you implement CAMBRA principles into your practice successfully and improve patient care and outcomes? What are your stepping stones on the path to CAMBRA success?


Your first stepping stone to success: Staff Buy In

Without your staff on board, your efforts are sunk before they have begun. It’s vital that they understand the CAMBRA principles and how they are going to be implemented in your practice.

The good news is your staff is probably just as frustrated with treating the symptoms of caries disease only and want what is best for your patients. Being able to offer something better is likely to appeal to them.

Still, a new philosophy of patient care with a new flow of treatment will require some adjustment by the entire office. In addition to explaining the why of your switch, you will need to explain how your office will implement the new workflow.


The next stepping stone: Staff Education

Now is an excellent time to invest in targeted professional development for your staff. The better your staff understands CAMBRA dentistry, the better the care they can provide. Some training to ensure everyone has the necessary knowledge will aid your success (For instance, there is an insurance code for a CAMBRA evaluation, which does not help if no one on staff knows about it).


Stepping stone three: Pick a CAMBRA form, and make it work for you

There are CAMBRA evaluation tools available, forms to fill out for each patient to systematically quantify caries risk. You should adopt one form and use it consistently in your practice. The CAMBRA evaluation is the tool that lets you shift your practice to wellness focused, proactive disease management, so make sure you and your staff consistently use the tool, and use it to its greatest effect.

Schedule time with your staff to evaluate the form at 3 or 6 month intervals. It’s important to take some protected time to make sure the tool you have selected is working for your office. You should discuss if simple modifications to the form, specific to your your situation, that will make the evaluation tool more useful and/or easier to use.


Skipping out to stone four: Offering the appropriate preventative tools for your patients

Because CAMBRA focuses on treating caries disease process rather than just disease symptoms, it has a different kit of tools than drill and fill Dentistry. If you recommend antibacterial rinse to a patient, it is helpful if they can find an appropriate antibacterial rinse.

Make sure you have the tools you are recommending to your patients available for them. This will increase patient compliance with treatment plans. The goal is not for you to become a retail boutique. The goal is ensure your patients have access to the medicine they need to treat their oral disease.


The fifth stepping stone: Patient Buy-in

Even if you’ve convinced your staff this is the best way forward, you’ve retrained and refocused, picked the right CAMBRA tool for you and sourced appropriate care products, it won’t help your patients if they don’t understand the benefits to them. You will need to put some effort into patient education.

It is worth taking the time to explain to a patient why 6 months of remineralizing products are better for them in the long run than a quick filling of a developing white spot lesion. The new focus may take some people by surprise, but if you explain how and why the treatment change is for them, you will have a chance to improve care as their partner in health, not alienate them.


These five stepping stones build the path for succeeding at CAMBRA implementation. It is well worth the effort to improve patient health and outcomes.

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