Your job as a dental practice is to help your patients achieve and keep good dental health. That means it’s also your job to make sure they know why a healthy mouth is important and what they should be doing at home to look after their mouths.
When giving advice, it helps if everyone in the team is consistent with their messages, so discuss and agree on your key dental home care tips and ensure the whole team is on-board with communicating them. Here are some simple tips that you can start putting into action…
Do tell patients why good dental health is important
Remember, it’s no longer enough just to remind patients that they might want to keep their teeth filling-free. The new enemy is gum inflammation, which we now know is linked to whole body health. Check out the evidence and advice on www.efp.org, and develop a practice philosophy of informing patients why it is important, as well as what they need to do to keep their gums healthy.
When it comes to what patients can do, most practices start with the advice that everybody should brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes. If you have a favourite between the manual and electric brushes available then tell your patients why you choose yours. Follow this up with extra tips such as using a pea-sized squeeze of fluoride toothpaste and to spit, not rinse!
We now know how important it is to remove plaque from all surfaces of teeth, including between teeth. Again, promote brushes or floss. Tell your patients what your favourite is and why – but do stress to patients how important technique is, and how your hygienist or health educator can help them be more effective in controlling plaque in order to control gum health.
Encourage patients to limit sugar and acid attacks
Do explain the process of plaque damage to teeth and gums and explain how sugar feeds bacteria and acid disrupts the surface of teeth. Give advice on alternatives to sugar and acidic food and drink, and do ensure your patients know about having periods of rest between eating and drinking episodes.
Regularly review and promote your dental health messages
You can communicate this to patients through the practice’s leaflets, posters and social media. But don’t forget that it is the verbal messages that patients most often respond to. When dentists, therapists, hygienists and nurses all tell the patients the ‘same things’ the messages can start to take hold.