Re-establishing routine with a twistNews
Posted by: The Probe 12th August 2020
Following a period of interruption to normal dental services, many patients may be late for their routine check-up. In the perfect world, people would have used the extra downtime they’ve experienced recently to hone their oral hygiene skills and improve their daily routines. After all, time restrictions are often blamed when patients admit to not cleaning interdentally every day, so without this barrier over the past few months, many will have had the opportunity to improve.
Of course, we have to be realistic in accepting that not everyone would have taken this approach. Indeed, for many, the lack of routine will have had a detrimental impact on various parts of their life. For example, you will have seen many a confession about weight-gain during lockdown, as the immediate proximity of food proved too much of a temptation for those of us confined to our homes as we continued to work, attempted to home school the children and/or looked for new ways in which to fill our days. Coupled with the restrictions on exercise, this will have spelt trouble for many-a-waistline and had an impact on our oral health.
As we gratefully look forward to the return of full-service dentistry – though likely not as we knew it before – the time has come to consider how we encourage patients to re-establish healthy dental routines. Much of this begins with education and communication. As dental professionals, it has always been our responsibility to give patients the knowledge and tools they need to optimise and maintain their oral health between appointments. Not only does this remain unchanged, but it has also possibly become even more important.
Indeed, many dental professionals continued to communicate with patients throughout the lockdown in order to promote dental hygiene and offer a source of support if anyone had questions or concerns. As the world starts its slow journey towards the new ‘normal’, the messages need to adapt accordingly. Remind patients why it is so important to look after their teeth and gums. They also need a refresher on what they should do and when to optimise their oral condition at home. As appropriate for your practice, let your patients know when they can and should book appointments with the dentist or dental hygienist. They may require some reassurance before attending the practice, so be sure to tell them about the already high infection control protocols in place and how these have been stepped up even further for their safety.
Future-proofing patients’ health
As we don’t yet know what the months or even years ahead hold for the world, it is important to future-proof patients’ oral health – just as you will be future-proofing your business. It’s necessary to think about what can be put in place now to help patients maintain their dental health should the provision of dental care change for good, or we face another lockdown.
One idea is to invest in tools that enable remote services. For example, the state-of-the-art treatment monitoring software solutions currently available utilise artificial intelligence to support the delivery of dental care for a wide range of patients. Previously focused on orthodontics, the technology is evolving rapidly to expand its potential for other clinical scenarios. In addition, we are all now more than familiar with video calling platforms – is there a way you can use these to communicate with patients, give them an opportunity to ask any questions or even to conduct treatment consultations?
By offering services, you can continue to communicate with patients, supervising and supporting their treatment whatever the future brings. An added advantage is the greater convenience that working in this way will provide for both the dental team and the patient even during ‘normal’ circumstances. You will benefit from enhanced efficiency in your daily workflows, while your patients reduce the costs and time needed to travel to the practice.
Another way to protect patients going forwards is to ensure they have the right tools to retain a high standard of oral hygiene at home. The WaterpikÒ Water Flosser range of solutions is an excellent example of products that facilitate high-quality oral care maintenance in the long-term. There are more than 75 scientific studies supporting the effectiveness and safety of the range and it is also accredited by the Oral Health Foundation for added peace of mind. Products are clinically proven to be up to 93 per cent more effective at reducing bleeding and up to 52 per cent better for reducing gingivitis than traditional string floss,[i] as well as more being effective at reducing plaque than interdental brushes. [ii]
As some sort of normality resumes in the dental world, helping patients re-establish healthy routines to protect their oral health now and in the future is key. We don’t know what’s round the corner and preparing for all eventualities is the best way to protect both the dental practice and its patients.
For more information on Waterpik® products please visit www.waterpik.co.uk. Waterpik® products are available from Amazon, Asda, Costco UK, Boots.com and in-store, Superdrug online and in stores across the UK and Ireland. To book a free Waterpik® Professional Lunch and Learn, visit www.waterpik.co.uk/professional/lunch-learn/
[i] Barnes C.M. et al. Comparison of irrigation to floss as an adjunct to tooth brushing: effect on bleeding, gingivitis, and supragingival plaque. J Clin Dent. 2005;16(3):71-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16305005
[ii] Goyal CR, Lyle DM, Qaqish JG, Schuller R. Comparison of water flosser and interdental brush on reduction of gingival bleeding and plaque: a randomized controlled pilot study..J Clin Dent 2016. 27: 23-26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28390208 [Accessed 27th March 2019]
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