Start Flossing, Stay Flashy

Every dentist knows that one of the hardest things to impart on your patients is the importance of flossing. Everyone brushes, a little or a lot, but many people almost never floss! This can be seen in the increasing number of in between teeth cavities, root canals, and other procedures due to the over-emphasis on traditional brushing.

Your practice thrives on the frequency of cleaning appointments, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality of care when it comes to educating your patients about the importance of their personal dental hygiene. Everyone knows they shouldn’t rely on their dentist as the “make or break” for whether or not their teeth look their best. It starts at home.

Some tips for those with patients who have chronic flossing problems:

  • Specialized electric toothbrushes claim to reach areas where flossing can’t. While they may do a better job of surface brushing, nothing does the job better than traditional floss.
  • Water-Pik brand equipment also claims to have a high rate of cleanliness for the value. For some people this may be true, but for others with routine and frequent trapped food particles, the ease of flossing is a better bet in disengaging plaque from in between teeth.
  • Encourage your patients to keep a diary of their oral hygienic practices for you both to see what is working and what isn’t. Do they floss after every meal or just at night? Reinstate the importance of frequent flossing regardless of whether or not it feels like you have “something in your teeth.” Plaque doesn’t discriminate feelings!

Of course, the aftercare product kit that your patients receive from you should be indicative of your goals. Does your aftercare kit contain a new toothbrush? Floss? Toothpaste? All of these items are more than sufficient to remind your patient of their oral health importance. A friendly, unobtrusive reminder after each cleaning should motivate your patients to return to you with less pain, better cleanliness, and a more satisfying cleaning process.

No matter what we do as dentists, many patients will be initially resistant to encouragement to start or continue flossing. As with any personal hygienic procedure, it takes time and routine to establish effective results. Yet, if your patient is complaining about frequent cavities or recommendations for more cleanings, you can help them along the path by telling them what they should do at home.


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