When patients see an Orthodontist, it’s presumed that they will correct the malocclusion and give the patients a pleasing smile. It must also be presumed, with confidence, that they will be proactive in their oral hygiene care. Every office should have a system in place to ensure oral hygiene success. Here’s how we have implemented specific systems to instill that confidence in our practice. It starts with a clear practice philosophy: Excellence in all aspects of patient care. Part of our practice philosophy is that good oral hygiene is crucial to a positive orthodontic treatment outcome. While orthodontists are usually not the patient’s first introduction to an oral health professional, they are overseeing their care at a time when additional oral care challenges have been presented.
Fixed orthodontic appliances provide impediments to care requiring dexterity and techniques to clean around braces and arch wires. Unfavourable outcomes of demineralization and caries can lead to negative perception of results regardless of malocclusion correction. Given the challenges, we have a responsibility to ensure patient success around them.
All our team members are committed to oral hygiene protocols with clearly defined responsibilities and roles at each visit. Having these roles clearly defined allows for a systematic approach to oral hygiene care. We have proved that these goals can be upheld in a large volume orthodontic practice. If having a defined system in place has worked for us, it can successfully work for you in your practice.
PATIENT COMMITMENT TO ORAL HYGIENE STARTS WITH THE INITIAL BANDING APPOINTMENT
At the initial banding appointment, immediately after the braces are applied, the patient receives oral hygiene instructions along with a Crest & Oral-B Ortho Essentials Kit. The Crest & Oral-B Ortho Essentials Kit is comprehensive, providing all the peripherals needed for their care including a Power Brush. Our instructions include demonstrating the hygiene techniques and use of peripherals. We have dedicated a separate room to oral hygiene instruction. We believe a dedicated room provides an undistracted environment where the patient, their parent and any siblings can participate in the discussion of oral hygiene. We have found that a one-on-one approach and this dedicated time starts our patients off on a path to success. It also shows the parents our commitment to oral hygiene. As part of the treatment, we recommend that patients keep up their hygiene appointments. We provide a newsletter to the area’s oral health professionals describing the instructions we provide and the contents of the Crest & Oral-B Ortho Essentials Kit. Having everyone informed of our protocols allows our commitment to the overall care of the patients they have entrusted to us to be recognized.
ORAL HYGIENE CONTINUES AT EVERY APPOINTMENT
Patients return for orthodontic adjustment appointments, on average every 8 weeks. At the adjustment appointment we monitor the progression of wires and brackets and score their oral hygiene. We use the display cards provided by Crest & Oral-B to provide a visual reference for the patients as to their brushing efficiency. We use the 1 to 5 scale on the card to record their hygiene score in the patient’s chart at each appointment. If necessary, the hygienist provides instructions and reviews their brushing technique at that same visit. Areas of concern are presented, discussed with the patient, parent and, if necessary, general dentist.
THE REMOVAL OF BRACES IS A TIME TO CELEBRATE
A patient with a corrected malocclusion and beautiful smile with no demineralization or caries is a success. After removal of the braces, we provide chairside instructions for continued care. The Oral-B power brush orthodontic head is replaced with a traditional head as they can continue to use the brush long after their active orthodontic treatment is complete.
OUR SYSTEM REFLECTS OUR ORAL HYGIENE PHILOSOPHY
Even with a high volume of patients, our system provides that every patient is monitored and counselled to ensure we consistently provide optimal oral care. Having a partner like Crest & Oral-B that offers a comprehensive kit like Ortho Essentials and instruction peripherals has allowed the Ortho offices like ours to easily integrate this system into their practices.