Dental Home Care Surges During the Pandemic

January 4, 2021
Chris Koski
Chris Koski

Chris Koski is the CEO of ProBiora Health®, which offers a proprietary line of comprehensive oral-care probiotics for people and pets. She served on the board of the company that developed the product line, Oragenics (OGEN), a pharmaceutical research company. As an advocate of the ProBiora3 product line on the board, she recognized the competing resource challenges of drug development and consumer product marketing. After an extensive search for a strategic partner, Oragenics sold Chris the ProBIora3® oral-care probiotic product lines in 2016.

Home oral health care grew in importance as the coronavirus 2019 disease pandemic made access to dental care more difficult.

When dental offices began to shut down in March due to the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, no one was sure how dental staff, patients, and dental suppliers would be affected. While dental offices were scrambling to source expensive PPE and re-design their operatories, patients were worried about having to delay oral care. Treatments like such as root canals, gingivitis, or caries were on hold. Routine cleanings were suspended. For manufacturers, traditional routes to dentists and hygienists, in-person visits, evaporated. Communication lines went silent, as offices locked down.

Dental suppliers had their own challenges in terms of calling on practices and keeping the supply chain moving. From our perspective as a dental supplier of oral-care probiotics, we were incredibly impressed with how our dental partners pivoted their focus to advising patients on how to best maintain their oral health at home. And they far exceeded our expectations. They used videos, newsletters, and phone calls to make sure their patients understood that their home dental care was a high priority during the shutdown.

Many of our dental offices transformed themselves into public health resources, right before our eyes, as our national sales manager Pete Maroon explained. According to one of our industry partners Patti DeMatteis, of Dental Hygiene Excellence (DHE) a dental coaching company, she also saw it first-hand with her clients.“Many of the DHE practices did reach out to patients, in the beginning, to reschedule upcoming appointments and certainly reminded them then of how they could keep their mouths healthier until the reopening of their dental practice,” says DeMatteis.“ They were good about including products they were already taking, and recommendations on what they could actually add to their daily routine. Many practices put out special newsletters and social media posts with how to stay healthy during the shutdown.”

At Probiora Health, we had to pivot too. We shifted our communications with dental offices to support their outreach with information on how ProBiora Health products could maintain oral health during the pandemic. We also went directly to the consumer with this message. The tide turned when it became clear that good oral health could be a preventive measure against post-COVID-19 bacterial infection complications. That message really resonated, and our customers took notice. Our sales began to rebound, and by the third quarter, they leaped by 17 percent over the first quarter. Clearly, the message of preventive oral care resonated with both dental offices and patients.

Dr. Sarah Poteet, a Dallas dentist who favors an integrated health approach, uses oral-care probiotics in her practice routinely.“It helps restore resilience to the biome, and that’s essential to good overall health. Since most of our patients already embrace the idea of oral-care probiotics, we simply integrated use of the product reminders with other general health messages on our social channels.” Dr. Poteet also has been pleasantly surprised to see an influx of new younger patients into her practice since the pandemic began.“They seem to understand how dentistry relates to overall health and want to make sure they are taking care of themselves in all aspects. That was a positive we saw coming out of the pandemic.”

With the widespread distribution of vaccines on the horizon, dental practices can expect an improved 2021. We’d all like to forget 2020, but we hope one lesson learned will stay with us: excellent dental home care benefits everyone.