What Strategies Encourage Patients to Maintain Better Oral Hygiene?

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    Dentist Magazine

    What Strategies Encourage Patients to Maintain Better Oral Hygiene?

    To uncover effective strategies for encouraging better oral hygiene, we've tapped into the expertise of dental professionals, from a Registered Dental Hygienist to a CEO with a focus on patient care. They offer strategies such as tailoring advice to individual patient values and leveraging social media to provide tips. Alongside these expert insights, we've included additional answers that range from gamifying dental routines to using visual aids for education, providing a full spectrum of techniques to foster patient commitment to oral health.

    • Tailor Advice to Patient Values
    • Identify and Correct Risk Factors
    • Remove Obstacles to Oral Care
    • Provide Regular Oral Health Feedback
    • Gamify Dental Hygiene Routines
    • Reward Consistent Dental Visits
    • Educate with Visual Aids
    • Leverage Social Media for Tips

    Tailor Advice to Patient Values

    Motivating patients can be a challenge, as no one patient is the same. There is no 'cookie-cutter' answer. Taking the time to listen and determine what the patient values helps me to focus my verbiage to be in tune with what is most important to them. In addition, I always evaluate their health status or concerns and link them to their oral health state. There is no brick wall that separates the mouth from the rest of the body; therefore, if there is an infection or disease in your mouth, it is circulating throughout your entire body. 'Let's work together to get things back to health for overall body health.'

    Melissa BartelsRDH, Dental Excellence

    Identify and Correct Risk Factors

    Periodontal disease is the technical term for the degradation of your gums around your teeth, caused by your immune system reacting to bad bacteria. This can be made more severe by medical conditions such as diabetes, lifestyle habits such as smoking, or poor oral hygiene techniques. The key is identifying which risk factor may be causing someone to suffer from this preventable disease, and correcting it. For example, I've had a patient who brushes three times a day, flosses, has never smoked, and has visited a dentist every six months for as long as they can remember. Despite this, they still had severe gum disease, and we were at a loss on how to fix it. In the end, it was discovered the patient was brushing their teeth exceptionally well; however, the brushes did not contact the gum line, where all the bad bacteria hide. A simple correction to this eliminated their gum disease within a few months!

    Michael Anaman
    Michael AnamanDentist & Clinical Advisor, Brush Fresh

    Remove Obstacles to Oral Care

    I've found the single best strategy is to find ways to make it easier for them to maintain better oral health. People may not maintain good oral health for several reasons. They might have arthritis that makes it hard to hold a toothbrush, or maybe they have a gag reflex. They may work until late at night, are tired, and just want to go to bed. One thing I've discovered is no one has poor oral hygiene habits because they're lazy. There is always an underlying reason.

    It's my job to find out what it is and remove it in some way. That could be telling them about an electric toothbrush to buy, giving them a coupon for a water pick, or showing parents a great-tasting toothpaste that kids will love. Once you remove the obstacle, they will perform better oral care.

    Steve Mascarin
    Steve MascarinCEO, Taunton Village Dental

    Provide Regular Oral Health Feedback

    Creating a system where patients receive consistent feedback on their oral health can significantly motivate them to improve their hygiene practices. Regular updates from dental professionals regarding the state of one's oral health help in making the abstract idea of 'dental health' more concrete and understandable. This could take the form of scheduled discussions or reports after each visit where progress is clearly noted.

    Patients tend to respond positively when they see tangible improvements or recognize the need for change. Encourage scheduling the next check-up to keep the feedback loop ongoing.

    Gamify Dental Hygiene Routines

    Incorporating elements of play and competition into the routine of teeth brushing can transform it from a chore into an engaging activity. By introducing challenges that reward users for brushing consistency and technique, individuals may become more invested in the state of their oral health. For instance, a mobile app could provide daily or weekly challenges that track progress and celebrate achievements.

    This gamified approach can create a sense of accomplishment and make oral care something to look forward to rather than avoid. Dive into a brushing challenge and see your oral health improve!

    Reward Consistent Dental Visits

    Offering tangible rewards can be an effective motivator for patients to stick to their dental check-up schedules. When they know that maintaining consistent visits could lead to rewards or recognition, patients might feel an extra push to keep their appointments. Rewards need not be extravagant; even modest incentives can forge a strong association between positive dental habits and the benefits derived from them.

    This strategy harnesses the natural human affinity for rewards to enforce good habits. Schedule your next visit now and start earning rewards for your commitment to oral health.

    Educate with Visual Aids

    Utilizing visual aids to educate patients on the risks associated with poor oral hygiene can have a powerful impact on their behavior. Through clear images and diagrams, patients can better understand the potential consequences of neglecting their oral care. This method helps to demystify complex dental conditions and can instill an urgency to adopt preventive measures.

    When individuals are confronted with the real-life implications of neglect, they are often more likely to take action to prevent such outcomes. Ask your dentist about the risks of poor oral hygiene at your next appointment.

    Leverage Social Media for Tips

    Harnessing the power of social media platforms to disperse oral hygiene tips and tricks is an innovative way to reach a broad audience. Short, engaging posts can remind patients of best practices and introduce them to the latest products or techniques that could enhance their dental care routine. Social media's interactive nature allows for a two-way conversation where patients can ask questions and get advice promptly.

    Dental practitioners can thus forge a community focused on the shared goal of better oral care. Follow your local dental clinic on social media and join the conversation on maintaining healthy teeth and gums.