New Year's Dental Resolutions: How to Help Your Patients Succeed

DATE: Dec 13, 2016 
AUTHOR: Jessica Raymond-Allbritten, CRDH, BASDH

With the New Year fast approaching, your patients may be starting to think about their New Year's resolutions. They are not easy to keep, though. Out of the 45 percent of Americans who set a resolution, 24 percent fail to stick to it, estimates Forbes.

As the calendar flips to the new year, people may wish to make resolutions to improve their oral health. With the right support, they may reach their goal. That is where you can step in. Educating, planning and motivating are ways you can help your patients achieve better oral health and complete pending treatments to fulfill their New Year's dental resolutions.

Educate

Education is an important step in helping patients keep their New Year's dental resolutions. Patients need to know the value of proper home care, recall frequency and treatment needs. Patients might not modify their habits or commit to treatment if they do not understand why changes need to be made in the first place. For example, if patients do not realize why it is really important, they may question your suggestion to floss every day. Flossing is inconvenient for some, and if the benefits are not clear, a patient may decide that adopting this habit is not worth the while.

To illustrate your points, and depending on areas of concern for a particular patient, you can use X-rays, intra-oral photographs, probing depth charts, disclosing solutions and educational videos to show your patients what they need to do to make a difference and the benefits that may result from their treatment plan.

Once patients are ready to commit to their New Year's dental resolutions, you can help them form a plan, guide them throughout the process and keep them motivated.

Make a Plan

Creating a customized plan for your patients allows them to focus on pending treatment and improving home care. Once the plan is set, your patients will know what steps they must take to complete their objectives. As each step is completed on their treatment plan, your patient can check off each item. Putting a check mark on the list can be rewarding because when patients look back, they can see how far they have come. Counting how many steps remain can be equally rewarding because it shows how close they are to achieving their goal.

For patients focused on improving home care, Colgate has developed an easy-to-use, free, educational tool called Gum Health Physical. You can customize a printable report that patients can tape to their bathroom mirror. A tangible checklist that shows their progress may help them stay motivated. For an on-the-go reference, you can email the report so that your patient can be easily accessed by smartphone.

Motivate

Keeping your patients motivated is key to success. For example, you could call, email or text a short motivational phrase before they arrive for a procedure or in between hygiene recalls. Some patients may not complete their oral health goals without motivation or reminders of what they are trying to accomplish.

According to a Nielsen poll, 'staying fit and healthy' is the number one New Year's goal set by Americans. If your patients are committing to eating better and going to the gym, this is a great opportunity to discuss the link between oral and systemic health. Remind patients often that all their hard work to improve their dental health will pay off and may help their overall health.

Celebrate

Once patients achieve their New Year's dental resolutions, acknowledge that. Your office could celebrate this milestone by awarding them a goody bag of free samples. Printing a certificate of completion may be rewarding to children and preteens.

Takeaways

  • Educate your patients with visual aids to help them understand how to reach their oral health goals.
  • Formulate a plan to help guide your patient to the finish line.
  • Motivate patients with encouraging calls, emails or texts, and celebrate their success.

Why It's Important

Dental hygienists can play a role in New Year's dental resolutions by educating, guiding and encouraging their patients to achieve better oral and overall health.