Never Assume!

Quick Take-Aways!

  • You never know what a patient’s dental care routine is until you ask them!
  • Just because your patient is an educated, well-to-do person… that doesn’t mean they are taking proper care of their teeth!!!
  • It’s important to set a realistic goal for improving their hygiene before the next appointment.

Today, when I asked my 3-month perio maintenance patient what his home care tools looked like and his response was….” I use mouthwash a couple of times a day. I should probably brush my teeth but I just rinse and go”.

I was never so thankful I had to wear a mask all the time !!!! I was really proud of how well I kept my composure. I listened and then went into a chat about what it means to be on Perio maintenance and the importance of mechanical removal of plaque and how brushing would really improve the overall outlook of having his teeth for his whole life.
Now, let me back up… This patient is a 33-year-old male with, clear medical history, and fit as a fiddle.. like working out at the gym kind of fit. Extremely intelligent!! As in, literally, a Nuclear Engineer!!

After processing through all of this, I took a look inside his mouth. Took intraoral photos and proceeded to Co-Diagnose with him. Including my patient in the overview of what his teeth and gums actually look like and reinforced the importance of mechanical removal of plaque.
I asked him if would commit to a singular goal of buying and using a power toothbrush before his next appointment. He responded, “Yes, I can do that!”

A few things passed through my mind after he left the appointment. Was he struggling with a mental health issue? How does he not brush his teeth!! Then I moved into more strategic thinking…

Is it possible no one ever discussed brushing????
Perhaps he is having a mental health issue AND we never taught this gentleman about brushing his teeth. At some point, we provided scaling and root planning on this patient and he has still been returning like clockwork; coming every 3 months for his maintenance. Hmmmmm

As a leader In my practice, I am always looking for the takeaway. The teachable moments. His intraoral photos made the cut for my next training slide show. Let’s not forget to review home care with our patients else they all come in with “magic shell” like deposits on their teeth. It’s ok to keep stating the obvious and get our patients to make commitments to change. Asking this gentleman to participate in completing a goal for our next hygiene appointment was a strategic play to have him take action and feel accountable. We can not assume our patients are solid on the basics of home care.

Jennifer Kender, 30-Year RDH

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