I have chosen OHI as my topic for this one because good OHI is vital to success of all other aspects of dentistry but it is too often not done well by a lot of dentists (myself included).
Earlier this year I started producing new pt introduction packs (I have talked about them previously on here). As part of that pack I put down some basic OHI on paper. By doing that I realised that it is a rare occasion when I actually verbally give all that info to a pt and even if I did it is highly likely they would be overwhelmed by all the info and switch off.
So I then decided to have that OHI printed on A4 sheets and give them to people who I felt really weren't doing very well with their daily cleaning. But I quite quickly found that if you give people a single flimsy A4 sheet almost everybody folds it in half and then half again and puts it in their pocket almost certainly to never be read again.
So I then made the font smaller and cut them down to A5. This only meant that people were just folding them once instead of twice.
At this point I decided that I needed a different format. So I sat down one Saturday and carefully reworded the text making sure it provided all the information I wanted but was sparse enough that I could fit it all legibly onto an A6 postcard. I hoped that by having a more substantial piece of card in their hands they might pay it more attention. I added my logo in the corner and my branding and practice phone number on the back and got 1000 copies printed off. With the benefit of hindsight this was the single best dental decision I have made this year.
3 months down the line I have given out approximately 500 of the cards and the process of running through the information with my patients has become second nature. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. New patients think it is a very nice touch and my more established patients are getting far better OHI than I have given them previously and really seem to be paying attention to it.
You need to be careful in how you implement it. There is no point in doing the exam and then saying as the pt leaves "take one of those postcards about brushing on the way out". People just won't read them. I do the following:
Full exam as normal. discuss any treatment needs. And then say something along the lines of:
"Good daily cleaning is key to minimising your risk of problems with your teeth and gums. I am now giving all of my patients written information about the routine that I think works best." By stating that you give these cards to all patients you are making it clear that you aren't giving this card just to that particular patient because they aren't brushing well. It instead shows that you care enough to want to ensure everybody gets the best help you can provide.
You then give them the card to hold in their hands and then talk them through the key points and show them on a model what you mean about brushing technique and how to use interdental brushes.
I have been amazed by the number of people who I know have not listened much to my previous verbal OHI but are coming back with much cleaner teeth having been given one of these cards.
When I have given out all of these cards I will get them reprinted with a few tweaks to the writing and I will be making a similar but simplified version specific to OHI for children. Obviously you may give OHI very effectively in a different way (and if you do I would very interested to hear it) but this is what I have found works wonders for me.
Dr Chris Harper