7 ways to promote oral health during orthodontics

August 3, 2016
Erinne Kennedy
Erinne Kennedy

Have you ever had a tough time convincing your patient to brush and floss? After this week’s recent debacle about no flossing, I think we can all agree, improving oral hygiene is a challenge for most patients. With anti-flossing ads stringing across every media site, let’s review seven ways you can increase oral hygiene in your orthodontic patients.

Have you ever had a tough time convincing your patient to brush and floss? After the recent debacle about no flossing, I think we can all agree, improving oral hygiene is a challenge for most patients.

With anti-flossing ads stringing across every media site, let’s review seven ways you can increase oral hygiene in your orthodontic patients.

Hygiene menu and smart goals

A hygiene menu is a revolutionary idea for allowing patients to choose their hygiene, that I recently heard when learning about the DentaQuest Institute in Massachusetts. No one can do a 180-degree turn during appointments, it takes small reachable goals and time. Creating a color-coded menu with different activities: drinking more water, eating healthy snacks like nuts and cheese, brushing two times per day, flossing one time per day, using your water pick one time per day, or allowing the toothpaste foam to sit on your teeth after flossing. These are just some of the healthy habits that you can place on your menu. When your patient comes in allow them to choose their new goal, and give them a sticker etc. when the set a goal. Then on the way out, have everyone in their office ask them about their new goal This encourages positive behavior that they want to do!

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Rewards card

I am sure you all have at least one Best Buy card, Panera card or Giant Eagle card. Today, every store has a promotion card that encourages shopping and allows for increased marketing, so why can’t you? Create a card for your dental office and place points on the card for good behavior to increase compliance. Examples include: excellent oral hygiene, being on time, not losing a bracket, no missing an appointment, referrals, tagging your office on social media or participating in community service. These points can be exchanged for super killer prizes or gift cards on your office website.

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Tokens

Tokens are similar to the rewards card-they give points based on good behavior. This is one of the old-school methods in increasing oral hygiene but I think that it is particularly good for young kids. They have some tangible treasure in their hand when they leave so that it is easier to understand.

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App-based collaboration

Using an app to track oral hygiene and then rewarding patients based on how frequently and how many times they performed oral hygiene is a great tool that can be integrated into the tokens or reward card system. Perhaps each patient can receive one point per two-minute brushing performance and five points for flossing with braces (come on, SuperFloss is tough!)

More on apps: Kolibree smart toothbrush and app aids both children and adults

Give-away baskets/prizes

Give-away baskets are amazing for referrals or number of weeks without a lost bracket. Tickets can be used to enter the raffle for each referral submitted, each week without a lost bracket or share on social media. Every month or so you can raffle the prize, take a picture with your winner and use this as an amazing internal marketing source and patient motivator.

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Patient of the month 

You can select the “patient of the month” and interview them. Kids love recognition and love to see their smile in your office. This can be something that they work toward and you can even take a video (with permission from the parents) and promote their awesome oral-hygiene practices in your practice. A new Sonicare or Waterpik is always a great prize for patient of the month!