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    A size 35 soft toothbrush: Missing in action (Part 1)

    Making sure that oral hygiene products you recommend to patients are easily available can make all the difference to the oral healthcare practices.

    Over the past 30 years, I have often been thwarted in my attempts to locate a size 35 soft toothbrush in a grocery or drug store, so I can imagine the frustration patients feel trying to follow my home care recommendations at home. 

    It is obvious that size 35 soft toothbrushes do exist, but for patients they are missing in action; available in the marketplace somewhere, but not where they actually shop. It’s no wonder they look so forward to the goody bag at appointment’s end.

    Additionally, I have faced difficulty supplying each patient with the exact products for their individualized home care, as stocking the supply room with the plethora of choices can be financially challenging for any dental practice. Adding to the challenge are individual state’s regulations that do not allow dental offices to stock prescription hygiene products, stock in bulk or sell products such as MI Paste or Braun automatic toothbrushes.

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    Many hygienists have been stymied trying to steer patients in the right direction for hygiene products. Rather than allowing the marketplace to dictate your patients’ oral hygiene care, be assertive in your search for oral hygiene products you provide or recommend to patients: Subscribe to hygiene periodicals, paying particular attention to articles that discuss the science of home care and prescription products; ask dental supply sales representatives to share samples of products that benefit your patients; and attend dental conventions and search out vendors with product samples available. 

    It is wise to sample products so that you can give first-hand advice on their use and palatability. It is helpful to have firsthand knowledge of products before passing on products or recommendations to patients and dentists, as an unpleasant taste or smell may stop a patient from using a product more than once.  

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    Finding the elusive toothbrush (and other hard-to-find products) may require an active search of your community resources. To get started, create goals that involve reconnaissance at the local grocer, drug and warehouse stores as well as online searches. Check the grocer and drug stores nearest your practice for toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and additional adjunctive home care products and check the dental supplies at warehouse stores for automatic toothbrush specials.

    Rarely will these searches yield an actual size 35 soft brush but knowledge of what is stocked is invaluable and as a side benefit it is possible that, if asked, your local retailers can special order products. Many of the best OTC products are found online but research involving cost and availability will be necessary to encourage patients to purchase and use the most effective products.

    The last step in loading your dental hygiene product arsenal is to create a catalog of resources for your hygiene department. Your catalog should list websites, specialty stores, grocers and drug and warehouse stores that carry recommended favorite home care products. Consider gathering and regularly updating this information to alleviate the frustrations of both patients and dental care providers who find so many recommendations missing in action.

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