Educating the Patient

When educating the patient on home care techniques, it is best to perform the “show and tell” method. Studies have proven better plaque removal when the patient received supervised home care instructions versus giving the patient the tools with no explanation.20 When a technique is shown within the patient’s mouth, a hand mirror should be provided for the patient to watch the dental professional’s demonstration. The dental professional should explain how to position the toothbrush or adjunct and why it needs to be in this particular position. The patient should then perform the technique while the dental professional checks and corrects, if needed. This method is used as an evaluation of the patient’s understanding of the home care instructions. For younger patients, it is best to get the parents involved.

Be sure to provide home care instructions for each of the products recommended to the patient. It is helpful to show the patient where the directions are located on the packaging and to explain the directions step-by-step to avoid any confusion. Thorough researching and understanding of the product’s effectiveness will make you more comfortable making recommendations to patients; also, you will be looked upon as “an expert in the field” by the patient.