How To Help Your Patients Adopt Best At-Home Oral Care Practices
As a dental professional committed to helping your patients achieve optimal oral health, you know supporting them to adopt better at-home practices is key. You are your patient’s greatest ally in realizing better oral health, but encouraging the formation of new habits is never an easy task. The following tips for helping your patients adopt best at-home practices are derived from research8 about supporting the behavioural changes that will lead to better oral health outcomes.
Your Recommendations Make All The Difference
- Advice from their dental professionals is the #1 reason patients give for adopting new oral health care habits.
- 81% of Canadians report that they would use a mouthwash if it was recommended to them by their dental professional.8
Set Specific Goals
- Determine with your patient which aspect of their oral health they would like to improve (e.g. reduced gingival bleeding).
- Establish a sense of authentic motivation based on the patient’s desire to see specific changes.
Commit to Specific Changes
- Encourage your patient to commit to specific behavioural changes that could bring about specific desired oral health outcomes (e.g. daily flossing and rinsing to reduce gingival bleeding).
- Ensure that your patient feels that these changes are attainable and realistic.
Create Realistic Plans
- Create a realistic plan that supports the formation of new positive habits (e.g. encourage your patient to keep dental floss in several locations and antimicrobial mouthrinse visible on the counter).
- Empower and encourage your patient to take improved oral health outcomes into his or her own hands.
Compound the Recommendations
- Recommendations are most effective when both dentist and hygienist make the same oral health care recommendation to the patient in the same visit. So ensure that your dental team regularly reiterates recommendations.
Give Patients the Tools They Need
- Empower your patients to adopt better at-home oral health care practices by ensuring they have the right tools to succeed on their own terms.
Point the Way to Resources and Tutorials
- Let your patients know about the resources that exist to help them form positive oral health care habits (e.g., the CDA’s website, or the CDHA’s website).
- Point the way to specific online tutorials or give your patients literature that will help them to recall the specifics of proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing technique.
ESSENTIAL TIPS AND TOOLS FOR YOUR YOUNGER PATIENTS
You already know that 48% of Canadian children have tooth decay by the time they reach 12 years of age.9 Start them off right, with the right tools and techniques:
- Ask parents to encourage healthy habits by setting a good example, and making sure their kids understand the importance of brushing, flossing, and rinsing (for children 6 years old and above).
- Allows kids to pick out their preferred toothbrush, toothpaste, and a kid-friendly fluoride rinse. It gives them the freedom to make decisions and gets them involved with their personal oral care hygiene.
- Reward their healthy behavior with stickers or other small prizes, and helps them form healthy habits.