Science + Tech

Talking to your patients about consumer oral care products

The patient interview is one of the most critical parts of treatment planning and developing a rapport with our patients. Listening to our patients is a skill we should master, especially when they are telling us about the oral hygiene products they’re using at home.

As consumers, our patients are exposed to a wide variety of dental care options, and although it is not the product that determines the oral hygiene status, it is something we should not overlook. Patients commonly ask for advice on how to best maintain their oral health, which sometimes includes questions about specific products they have seen or heard about. In addition, they could be using unconventional forms of oral care or even trying out trends they come across on social media. This type of information may not be openly disclosed in the patient interview, which is why it’s important that we prompt them to discuss their home oral care habits. Then we can provide necessary intervention and give feedback in their continued effort to maintain oral health. 

In addition to listening to our patients during the interview and asking the right questions about their hygiene routines at home, we must stay informed about the products available to them over the counter, just like we do with our prescription products. One way we can do this is by learning about products that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance

Established in 1931, the ADA Seal of Acceptance program evaluates the safety and efficacy of dental products. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the ADA, “two out of three consumers responded that the ADA Seal on a product simplifies their purchasing decision.” Products are available for consumer reference on the ADA website. 

Oral health is influenced by many factors, so an individualized approach should be taken with every patient. The ultimate goal is to promote the integrity of our profession and, most importantly, provide what is best for our patients, which includes reliably recommending products and practices to help guide them. This discussion also can serve as an educational opportunity to help patients set realistic goals and outcomes when it comes to their everyday oral hygiene and ultimately improve our communication with them.

~Melissa Matick, LECOM ’22

Melissa Matick

Melissa Matick is a second year dental student at LECOM School of Dental Medicine in Bradenton, FL. She is an active member of the American Dental Student Association, a registered dental hygienist (RDH) and conducts oral health care product research.

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