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How to Increase Patient Compliance With Gum Health Physical

Nov 24, 2017 

Author: Jessica Raymond-Allbritten, CRDH, BASDH

Encouraging patient compliance can be difficult with patients who have poor home care habits and a history of periodontal disease or gingivitis. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, 47.2 percent of Americans have periodontitis. This widespread dental disease can be prevented and reduced with proper patient education and compliance. However, for several reasons, many patients don't grasp the information at their hygiene appointments. Gum Health Physical (GHP) helps you break down common barriers to increase patient compliance.


Barrier: "My dental hygienist shows the mirror but I can't see what she is pointing at."

Patients often don't understand what you are trying to show them in a mirror, or they can't see the difference in structures. Taking intraoral photographs and using analogies, tooth diagrams and a GHP report can help your patient better understand what you see. Using your intraoral camera in conjunction with GHP can help you educate patients on structures, areas of concerns and plaque control. Patients may not see the plaque and tartar until you show them what it looks like with a before-and-after comparison of the cleaning. Showing the patient the video about the progression of gum disease, found in the patient education section of GHP, can be extremely useful in teaching patients what can happen if they don't take action.

Barrier: "I don't remember what she says when I get home."

Your recommendations and instructions will help your patients improve their oral hygiene, but only if they can remember the details. Research published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine shows that patients immediately forget 40 to 80 percent of the information provided by their health care professionals. A custom report from GHP reminds patients which areas they need to focus on, which products you recommended and their systemic risk factors. You can send this report via email or give patients a printed copy at the end of their appointment. For older patients who may be less tech-savvy, print two copies of the report so that they can keep a copy with them while shopping for oral care products you have recommended and keep another copy on their bathroom mirror.

Barrier: "I learn better by seeing a picture, not by listening."

Many patients are visual learners. Seeing as well as hearing your recommendations may make them easier to remember. GHP has many videos under the patient education tab as well as an interactive probe that you can use to educate patients on periodontal disease and home care instructions. Keep patients' probing charts and interactive probes side by side on your computer screen can help you educate them on their current periodontal health. Using the GHP flip chart chairside may increase patient compliance, too. If you don't have a GHP flip chart, contact your local Colgate sales representative to check availability.

Barrier: "I can't see or ask questions while my dental hygienist is working."

When you are working in your patients' mouths, it is difficult for them to communicate with you. Avoid talking to your patient while you're polishing or using the ultrasonic, as these also cause too much noise and background distraction. Try to have discussions before you start and while hand scaling, and then recap the discussion at the end of the appointment. Always ask your patients at the end of their appointments if they have any questions about what you discussed during their appointments.

Barrier: "I feel vulnerable lying flat on my back."

Patients prefer face-to-face interactions. Standing, sitting above patients or talking to them while they're lying back may make patients feel negative towards you and the information being discussed. The best way to communicate with your patients is with them sitting up and facing you, so make sure to adjust their seat and your seat appropriately when you're talking to them.


  • Use GHP to help the patient understand periodontal therapies and their importance.
  • Create a customized report for each patient. It only takes a couple of minutes and gives them something tangible to take home and reference. This report can help keep the patient motivated at home.
  • Follow up with your patients with a phone call or a future visit to see how they are doing with your recommendations.

Why It's Important

Improving patient compliance is key in improving your patients' oral health and oral hygiene habits. Gum Health Physical is a tool that helps to eliminate barriers and increase patient compliance. It's a free digital platform that can be accessed on PC, Mac and tablet, making compliance more convenient than ever.

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