It’s been over a year since we all began living in our COVID-19 inspired modified reality. As industry professionals, we know the importance of regular dental hygiene appointments and we have a responsibility to ensure our patients are protecting their oral health.
In a recent survey conducted by the CDHA, it was found that 6 in 10 Canadians have not seen their dental hygienist since March 2020.
As you know, there is a strong connection between oral health and the rest of the body. A multitude of research exists on the link between periodontitis and systemic health problems.
Without proper oral hygiene and professional care, defences against bacteria are reduced, cavities can develop, and gum disease can take hold. Over time, this can exacerbate underlying conditions, and even contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or stroke.
Now, more than ever, it is important to have a strong immune system to fight off viruses and infections, and yet patients are not making that connection back to dental hygiene.
We have a duty of care to ensure our patients understand the importance of being seen for their professional cleanings.
Why are patients not keeping their dental hygiene appointments?
Surprisingly, the number one reason is not due to concerns about possible exposure to COVID-19. The top reason patients cited for not keeping their dental hygiene visit is that they view it as something that can be put off. In other words, they don’t recognize the significant role it plays in their health and well-being.
What does this tell us?
This tells us that we as dental professionals have an opportunity to do a better job educating patients on the connection between oral health and systemic health, so that patients understand how important it is to keep their dental hygiene appointments.
What can we do about it?
Closing this knowledge gap requires consistent and frequent communication with patients across all roles within our practices in order to be effective.
There are simple, effective strategies that you can incorporate into your practices today to promote the importance of dental hygiene visits.
Dentistry plays a fundamental role in the overall health of our patients. Helping our patients understand the importance of dental hygiene can only bring about positive results for both patients and practices.
About the Author
Dr. Baluta graduated from the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Dentistry in 1987 and is proud to have spent 30 years practicing in his home town of Winnipeg, with 28 of those years as owner of Odyssey Dental Care located in Transcona. He is a Member of the Canadian Dental Association, Manitoba Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, and the International Association of Orthodontics. Dr. Baluta is a Clinical Instructor at U of M College of Dentistry and a Chair of the Communications Committee at the Manitoba Dental Association (MDA). He was the recipient of the President’s Award of Merit from the MDA in 2017 for his long-term volunteer work and chairmanship of the Open Wide program at the MDA.