When people hear the word “dentist,” they may think about routine exams, cavity fillings, root canals, and other procedures.
But your profession is much more than the procedures that you carry out. It also includes a lot of consultation and discussion.
Some of that consultation may refer to consumer dental care products about which patients want to know more.
Here are some strategies to try to help you get patients practicing good dental hygiene with proper products.
Teach Them about Oral Health & Hygiene
While it’s often considered common knowledge, you may still encounter patients who don’t have the education needed to understand good oral hygiene. Some may have grown up in households that didn’t prioritize oral health. Others may be from a generation where dentures are a fact of life after a certain age.
Regardless of their reason, it’s important for you to teach patients why they need to take care of their teeth. Educate patients about the possible connection between dental plaque and arterial plaque. You can also explain to them that a study has shown that inflammation of the gums correlates with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. The bottom line of your patient communication: good dental hygiene is important for overall health.
While some patients are going to experience dental problems no matter how well they take care of their teeth, make sure they know that using dental care products faithfully can minimize the number of procedures they'll need to experience over time.
Demonstrate How Patient Can Correctly Take Care of Their Teeth
Once you've established how important it is for patients to take care of their teeth, the next step is typically to showcase proper care. You can approach this essential task in a variety of different ways, depending on the kind of practice you have.
One approach is to play a video demonstrating proper brushing and flossing techniques while patients are in your waiting room. This can be an effective approach if you practice pediatric dentistry. Kids may watch the videos while they are waiting, and parents can watch while their children are in the back having their teeth cleaned. As a result, a short video on dental hygiene can provide a lot of important information in a short amount of time while shortening patient visits by giving them introductory information.
If you'd rather not have the distraction of a video screen in your waiting room, your dental hygienists can take the time to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques, as well as the importance of using mouthwash.
Important tips could include:
- Make sure to purchase a soft-bristled brush that you replace once the bristles are worn or once every two months.
- Keep the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line.
- Use short, circular strokes to reach the inside and outside of each tooth, remembering that you can only brush a couple of teeth at a time.
- Brush the gum line as well as the surface of the teeth.
- Two minutes is how long it should take.
- Insert floss between teeth with a gentle, sawing motion.
- Curve down into the area where the tooth meets the gum.
- Aim to scrape off substances lodged between teeth.
- Don't worry if gums bleed at first. With a regular regimen, the bleeding will stop, and your gums will feel great.
Explain What’s Essential (and What isn’t)
Give your patients the lowdown on what essential dental care products they should have at home:
Toothpaste is one of the most important innovations in oral healthcare. It’s a necessity for any individual, regardless of their age, to keep the enamel in their teeth strong. Explaining that teeth and enamel do not “heal” or regenerate like other parts of the human body can often drive home the point of regularly brushing with toothpaste.
Toothbrushes are crucial to everyone’s oral health. Fortunately, today’s toothbrushes feature a variety of innovative features — like soft bristles and bristle curvature — that help anyone find a toothbrush that’s comfortable for them. Finding the right toothbrush can make it more pleasant for a patient to brush their teeth and, consequently, exhibit better oral care.
Floss is important because brushing only reaches about 60% of a tooth’s surface. The rest of the surface is between neighboring teeth, which bristles can’t reach. That’s why floss is so crucial, as it can remove plaque buildup and bits of food to keep teeth from decaying. Highlighting the fact that flossing is a supplement to brushing, and not an extra chore, can help motivate patients to start and maintain the habit.
Bruxism is a leading cause of tooth damage, which can cause tooth decay and other permanent oral damage. Patients are often asleep when this activity takes place, making the need for a specially-fitted mouth guard essential. However, patients who don’t show signs of bruxism may not require a mouthguard, even if they’re concerned about it.
By helping to control the amount of bacteria, mouthwash can reduce the chance that a patient will develop gingivitis, which makes it an essential dental product for many.
What isn't necessary?
Teeth whitening agents, whether in toothpaste or kits, don't help prevent decay or reduce bacteria in the mouth. Patients also don't need a fancy toothbrush. A standard brush with soft bristles is just as effective when used properly.
Treloar & Heisel for the Guidance You Need to Grow
Whether you are just beginning your career, managing a thriving dental practice or starting to think about retirement, the Treloar & Heisel team has more than 60 years of experience advising dental professionals. For resources, support and the insurance you need to help protect and maintain your practice, call us today.
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