Oral health in difficult timesNews
Posted by: The Probe 9th June 2020
Delivering a clear, simple yet strong oral health message has never been more important, as well as supporting patients with their daily home-care.
If you haven’t seen your routine patients – or your colleagues! – as often as you would have liked, you may have been working ‘outside the box’ to spread the word about how essential maintaining a clean and hygienic mouth is.
When you can’t see patients face-to-face, social media can be incredibly useful for getting a message out and the practice website is a great platform to reiterate simple points for everyone who can’t come in for appointments. How you present any content will be entirely up to you – are you a family practice, is your patient base elderly? Write as if you were talking directly to your patients; use your own “voice” and keep your tone light, but informative and to the point. It’s probably fair to say that a lot of us have been struggling with an information overload for a while now – appropriate humour could also go a long way!
Think about your youngest patients too. With schoolchildren across the UK enjoying an unexpected break from their classrooms, your website could be a great way to teach them about how maintaining their oral hygiene will protect them from developing all kinds of serious conditions in later life, as well as helping them to feel good and stay healthy. If they have a clean mouth, they’ll want to keep smiling every day, too. If you have the skills, maybe you could make a short video, or use animation.
It’s good to talk!
It’s about being proactive and finding ways to stay connected. The patient-practitioner relationship is built on trust and communication. Once something resembling “normality” has been reinstated, we will all have been reminded how it’s so important to listen, as well as to talk – to have a genuine conversation with everyone we see in our practice and to really get to know them.
Listening to what people say, how they say it and what they don’t say can give dental practitioners so many clues about their personal barriers to achieving optimal oral health. Maybe they’re confused about dietary advice, or brushing technique… Over the last few months, we’ve all realised that face-to-face appointments, with the chance to find out all about our patients, their lives and their unique circumstances, are a privilege.
Simple and clear
Implementing simple, yet effective oral hygiene measures will help all of us to stay well and healthy every day and for years to come. They are a central part of self-care. Oral hygiene is as important as keeping our body clean. Good, effective tooth brushing will remove optimal plaque and bacteria; daily cleaning must be supported by the right food choices and drinking plenty of water. The connection between oral health and all-round good health is clear; we can also factor in finding time to exercise every day – which we’ve learned can be something as simple as a 30-minute workout with your family, courtesy of Joe Wickes! – and getting some fresh air.
At the other end of the scale, there is the importance of finding inner calm too. Stress and anxiety will have consequences for physical and oral health. The preventive message must include ways to switch off, for your patients – and don’t forget about you, either. Exercise, especially outside, is a great stress buster, but when this is difficult you could recommend, or try for yourself, switching your phone off for the afternoon, enjoying a good book in the bath, or attempting something new and creative. There are meditation apps to try too, some of which have been tailored specifically to children, who may have been left feeling anxious by recent events. True good health is about staying healthy in mind as well as body.
Taking care of each other
Anyone working in a healthcare profession may be frustrated over what they haven’t been able to “fix” lately. What we can do is keep delivering a message of self-care and why it’s so important to have a proactive, responsible attitude to staying healthy, which includes oral health too. When we return to brighter days, our relationships with our patients will be stronger than ever, with the prevention message never louder. Simple yet effective habits, quality products and tools, including the correct brush – like those found in the TANDEX range, which includes interdental and UltraSoft options – will keep your patients smiling.
The events of this year have taught us how we must all take care of ourselves, and those around us, to stay well every day. Once normal service is resumed, we’ll be even more motivated to deliver care that keeps everyone we treat in good health for as long as possible.
Author Kimberley Lloyd- Rees on behalf of Tandex
Kimberley graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2010, where she now works as a clinical tutor in Dental Hygiene and Therapy as well as working in practice. She has spent her career working across a variety of specialist private and mixed dental practices, for the MOD and volunteering her time to a dental charity in Nepal.
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