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Strategies for Non-Compliant Patients

Date: July 01, 2021

Author: Mandy Dennis, RDH

Do your patients return for their preventive or periodontal care with no changes in their oral health or oral hygiene status since their last visit when you provided your recommendations? Do you occasionally wonder if your voice has been heard or if you are making an impact at all? How are you recommending care? Making the same home care recommendation on appointment after appointment will only cause frustration for patients and us as their clinicians. Patient compliance can best be achieved when recommendations use methods that help us reach the end goal and meet the needs of that individual patient.

What works best?

1. Motivational Interviewing. The goal of motivational interviewing is 'to have patients voice the need for behavior change.' If a patient doesn’t see a problem, discussing a solution will not help. As hygienists, we should help our patients see an area where their oral hygiene isn’t as strong as it could be, or where their gingival health is poor. Should a patient mention that they have had bad breath and that it’s bothering them, giving them a solution which will directly help is more likely to help with compliance.

2. Encourage accountability. More people tend to follow through and comply when they have a way of tracking their success. Electric toothbrushes aid in brushing, however if a patient doesn't understand where they are missing, it could be wasted time. Colgate's new hum toothbrush with bluetooth technology and an app lets patients see where they are successfully brushing and where they need to be giving more time and attention. Doing this at home will also give patients privacy while they improve their brushing. The app includes a points system for rewards, enabling the patient to use awarded points to obtain more products for better homecare, such as brush heads.

3. Show your patients, don't just tell them. How often do you show your patient what's going on? Are you focused on helping them understand or do you fly through a conversation? Everyone comprehends and learns differently. The key to success is utilizing the right resource and method for that patient. Colgate's Gum Health Physical is a phenomenal free online resource that allows the clinician to actually note any changes in periodontal health and recommendations in the patient report, and to send videos that relate to periodontal disease to their patient. Logging into the website in the morning and having the resource available can be a quick resource to help the visual learning patient.

4. Does your patient focus on facts? Many people want to know the details. They want to know how things are. If your patient focuses on facts, knowing where they stand could make a huge impact. This doesn't mean we are focusing on negative aspects or criticizing our patient. Using caries risk assessments to identify their caries risk level may help them follow through with our tailored advice based on the assessment. Giving the patient a goal for improvement on their next visit and then reassessing it can also help reinforce what they have accomplished when improvements occur.

5. Children need encouragement too! There are multiple resources for helping children and families on Colgate's Bright Smiles Bright Futures website. Activities, games and handouts are available for children of all ages and can help them get on a healthier oral hygiene routine!

6. Give the patient directions on your recommendations. There are many patients who are listening to your recommendations, however they may go to the store and not find the product you are recommending. It is not uncommon for patients to dismiss the recommendation and find an alternative, which may be far from what you were asking them to get! This item may or may not go on the grocery list again for the next visit. Colgate's Professional Direct takes the trip to the store out of the equation. There's no chance they won't find the product you recommended as it's delivered straight to their door. Your patient doesn't have to wonder or try to remember what you said, or get the wrong thing. As their dental professional, you can make recommendations straight from the office and send the link to their phone or email. All the patient has to do is click and receive! It's never been easier to be product compliant!


- Listen to your patient. Listening will lead the conversation!

- Find out what technique works best in motivating your patient

- Make it easy for patients to be product compliant by giving them direct access with CPD

Compliance is only good as the communication between you and your patient. Listening and following through will help to ensure your patient is on a track to improved compliance and better health.

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