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    5 ways to get your patients to brush their teeth

    Getting your patients to brush on a consistent basis can be a challenge, but these tips can help your patients realize the importance of good oral hygiene.

    When it comes to motivating your patients to brush their teeth, there are never enough ideas to try. “Really, when it comes down to it, we have to be a mini psychologist,” says Tina Clarke RDH, BSDH, MED, a clinical hygienist and dental hygiene teacher at Oregon Technical School. “We have to figure out what will motivate our patients to make healthy lifestyle changes.”

    Talking about eating healthy snacks, brushing between meals and avoiding foods that stain teeth is all part of discussing good hygiene. “I encourage all oral health care providers to continue learning about motivational interviewing and intervention with their patients,” Clarke says.

    Related article: 6 things to say to get your patients to clean in between their teeth

    Here are five tips that may help you to motivate your patients to brush on a regular basis.

    1. Use the intraoral camera

    Using an intraoral camera to show the patient what is actually happening in his or her mouth can be an eye-opening experience. “I often hear, ‘Gross! That is what's in my mouth?’” Clarke says.

    Removing a small amount of biofilm and showing it to your patient can be helpful, too.

    2. Lead by example

    “We often notice patients miss brushing areas along the gum lines along the cheek sides of the teeth,” says Rudi As-Sanie, DDS, who practices in Dublin, Ohio. Demonstrating how to properly brush hard-to-reach spots can help patients improve their oral hygiene habits.

    “We suggest to patients to have ‘soft cheeks and lips’ to make sure the toothbrush has enough room to get beyond the lips and cheeks,” As-Sanie says. “For the back teeth, we tell patients to close down about halfway. Patients might think they should open wide to get all those hard-to-reach areas, but a slightly closed soft mouth is the key.”

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