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Explain, Teach, Trust – the power of empowerment

The TePe InfoPod  is one such example and provides simple diagrammatic explanation of periodontal breakdown, a superb graphic detailing why an interdental brush is more effective than floss in sites where clinical attachment has been lost and details how to use an Interdental brush. Great to use at chairside to reinforce your explanations.

Establishing a mutual cooperation and responsibility between the patient and the clinician for the management of periodontal disease in particular is critical to a successful clinical outcome. The patience and time required to establish this for both parties should not be underestimated.

The “when”, “with what” and “how” part of the advice is more effectively received if tailored to the individual patient. I don’t think that we are ever surprised to know that no single method, cleaning aid or cleaning programme for biofilm control suits all.

When”:  Oral hygiene measures can be undertaken at any time of the day and should fit in with the patient’s daily routine. It is the time spent cleaning and thoroughness rather than the frequency of technique that is most important. (Honkala et al 1996).

“With What”; Whilst evidence for efficacy of a specific oral hygiene aids must be taken into account , often what the patient prefers to use and is therefore more likely to use is the more effective option.

“How”: The actual techniques used to accomplish biofilm control will vary according to the specific needs of the patient and depend upon for example: the manual dexterity of the patient, gingival architecture, physical access to the oral cavity, depth of pockets, size of the tongue, fraenal attachments.

Timing of any clinical intervention as part of this process is also critical to long term  success. Patients are more likely to appreciate the importance of the role of their own home care routine if they see the positive results in reduction in inflammation , discomfort and pocket depths without any initial clinical intervention .

So, explain to  them using visual aids, teach them in the mouth and on models and trust them to do it for themselves,  you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.