How we are getting our patients to floss more
For better or worse, dental professionals can't force their patients to floss. This dentist found that certain patients were more receptive to improving their oral home care when offered a different product... and they also, curiously, stopped canceling their appointments at the last minute. Read more here!
AS DENTAL PROFESSIONALS, WE KNOW HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO FLOSS. Although we have seen and heard much controversy on this subject, the truth remains. We know that if you eat a turkey leg or ear of corn and you do not floss, it is assured that you not only have living germs still in your mouth, but that you will also have some leftover turkey or corn saved in between your teeth for later on in the day!
Flossing is essential, but as dental professionals, we can only lead a horse to water. We can’t make our patients floss at least once or twice every day! However, I have found something very helpful that is increasing my patients’ desire to floss and take better care of their oral hygiene.
Now before I mention what it is, I just want to mention that I am not a salesperson for this product or in any affiliation program with this company. I just sell its products at my dental practice. The product that has made flossing much easier for my patients is a Waterpik water flosser. Waterpik’s research actually claims that a water flosser is more effective than a minty piece of string. I am not sure how entirely sure that is, but I do know that this product is more appealing to some of my patients and influencing them to floss more.
A water flosser vs. string floss
Many of my patients who claim they floss come back with the same plaque buildup visit after visit. However, I have been noticing my current patients who are water flossing come back with less plaque buildup, and they are hardly ever no-shows. This new way of flossing has built awareness in my patients who are using it, and their no-shows and last-minute cancellations have significantly decreased.
For example, a couple of patients who frequently cancelled appointments at the last minute decided to purchase a water flosser. Now they see how their dental hygiene is improving and they are aware when it is time for their recall. I am not saying a water flosser eliminates no-shows or cancellations. Overall, I am not sure exactly how a water flosser influences our patients, but I have seen an increase in completed recalls with the patients who have purchased a water flosser, and I have definitely seen better oral hygiene from them. This has especially helped my patients who are going through ortho.
Conclusion and questions
What is your opinion? Do you prefer to do it old-school and show your patients how to use a string floss? If so, what do you say to get your patients to floss continuously and more? If not, have you used an air flosser or a water flosser? If so, how is it working with your patients?
I plan to continue to use and sell this product in our dental practice. Our patients love it and it has really benefited our office. It really makes me excited for the other things in the works that will change and transform dentistry.
Editor's note: This article first appeared in RDH eVillage. Click here to subscribe.
Andrea K. Choi, DDS, graduated from Loma Linda School of Dentistry in 1994. Dr. Choi also holds a master’s degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine, which qualifies her to provide holistic and alternative care for her patients. She founded and maintained a very successful private practice in the city of Perris, California. She has also opened up a private dental practice that focuses on cosmetic dentistry in Rancho Cucamonga, California, in 2010.