I have been giving out Oral Hygiene Instruction postcards to every patient for just over a year. Now that I have just taken delivery of my third version of them I thought I would bring them up again here incase anyone hasnt seen them.
When I adopted the idea of OHI postcards as a way of improving the quality of the OHI advice I give to my pts I was expecting that they may only help a small percentage of the pt base. I thought I was already quite good at OHI and therefore most pts wouldn't really need one of them. But I have been amazed at the response and very quickly they became integral to my checkup appointment. Over the past year I have given out almost 2000 of them to my patients, local schools and charities.
With the third version I have now added a bit more advice on the back of the card about the hazards of sugar and smoking. I have also decided to create a simplified version aimed at younger patients (The blue and grey card).
I find these have really helped in numerous ways:
- Pts who were doing OK but maybe always forget one part of the routine (e.g. Not rinsing after brushing) come back the following time improved.
- Almost every new pt comments on how much of a good idea they are and are surprised that their old dentist wasn't this thorough.
- The pts that return for a second time with poor OH get a wake up call when I give them a second card and they realise they aren't following any of the points on it. It used to feel like I was telling these pts off but now with the postcard the emphasis has changed because the pt realises themselves that they have chosen to ignore my advice.
If you are going to start implementing something like this you still need to be careful about how you do it. There's no point just putting a postcard in their hand as they walk out. I sit everybody down and give them the card to hold and read while I talk them through the main points using a demo model, toothbrush, interdental brushes etc. Then I advise them to put the postcard in the bathroom to remind them of my advice when they clean their teeth. This will reinforce my advice but hopefully it is also strengthening the pts relationship with me and the practice acting as a reminder for them to return for appts and if I ever move it may make some pts more likely to want to follow me.
Dr Chris Harper