During orthodontic treatment – whether with fixed appliances or aligners – patients are at heightened risk of dental caries and gum disease, which, if allowed to develop, can jeopardise the success of the treatment.
Minimising complications during treatment is essential and with a legal duty of care to protect the interests of patients it is imperative that orthodontists thoroughly plan their oral hygiene provision by establishing good practice protocols, processes and providing staff with the training necessary to ensure consistent and professional care for their patients.
In the UK, only a handful of specialist orthodontic practices employ the services of a dental hygienist, most often leaving the responsibility for oral health provision and education to a nurse. Contrast this with North America and continental Europe where patients are required to see a hygienist at least once every three months.
While most practitioners recognise the value a hygienist would add to the team ,they are reluctant to take this step out of deference to referring dentists. The solution, according to Dent-O-Care, is to ‘up-skill’ existing clinical staff by improving oral hygiene awareness and putting in place procedures to help ensure that the practice is able to fully meet their duty of care by taking responsible for patient’s oral health.
Dent-O-Care has more than 20 years’ experience working in partnership with practices to improve the provision of oral hygiene services and have, over the last two years, gained extensive experience in the area of orthodontics, working with the likes of Total Orthodontics and Dentalign.
A mutually beneficial relationship as Grant Harris, Partner at Total Orthodontics attests: 'Over the last two years, we have worked with Dent-O-Care to put in place a clear set of oral hygiene protocols, coupled with regular compliance audits to ensure that standards don’t slip. To complement this we have introduced specialist products which are fit for purpose and instigated an on-going regime of staff training. This partnership has delivered immediate and long lasting benefits for both our patients and the business.'
Recognising the extent of the potential risk to which practices are exposed, Dent-O-Care has decided to extend it current offering by launching a range of oral hygiene services specifically for orthodontic practices.
The company has recently recruited and trained a team of clinical advisors, all of whom are highly experienced dental hygienists. The team is headed by Amanda Gallie, a dental hygienist and therapist who has held teaching posts at King's College London and Sheffield and is a former BSDHT council member.
Available to go into practices and work with all members of the team, the services provided by Dent-O-Care clinical advisors include:
Developing Best Practice protocols: working with orthodontists to define oral hygiene processes and procedures bespoke to the needs of the practice and their patients. This is an essential stage in ensuring that staff members are clear about what is expected of them and that patients receive a consistent, high quality level of service irrespective of which member of the team is providing the treatment.
Compliance Auditing of Best Practice protocols: once established it is important that practice owners have confidence that practice protocols are being adhered to and implemented in the desired way. Best Practice protocol audits involve one of Dent-O-Care’s Clinical Advisors spending time in practice observing the team at work and assessing staff adherence to best practice guidelines. Following this practice owners are provided with an objective report detailing the findings of the audit, with recommendations on areas for improvement or further consideration.
Selection of appropriate products: a key factor in raising patient oral hygiene compliance is to make sure that they have the most effective products available for the treatment they are undertaking. Dent-O-Care’s Product Specialists have a comprehensive knowledge of what is available on the market and are experienced in assisting practices to optimise their product offering, ensuring that they stock the most appropriate products for their patients.
Oral hygiene training: of all the dental specialties few have as many oral hygiene implications as orthodontics. Whether a patient is undergoing fixed brace or aligner treatment their risk of caries and gum disease is significantly increased immediately treatment begins. It is therefore paradoxical that unlike general practice few specialist orthodontic practices employ the services of a hygienist or having anyone on staff experienced in oral hygiene. This course will provide clinical staff with a thorough understanding of the risks associated with orthodontic treatment and the tools for bridging this skills gap.
Ethical sales training: orthodontic practices are businesses and need to be run accordingly. Performed correctly over-the-counter sales can be a win/win situation for patients and practices. Dent-O-Care is able to offer ethical skills training to optimise this aspect of patient service. Depending on the number of staff involved these course can be run externally or in the practice and as an added bonus both training courses provides those who participate with verifiable CPD.
Dent-O-Care also provides practices with a specialist range of orthodontic oral healthcare products – about which Richard George, a Partner at Total Orthodontics said: 'As the only oral hygiene range specifically formulated for orthodontic patients, VITIS Orthodontic is the most appropriate to the needs of our patients.'
To complement the new service Dent-O-Care has also produced a range of free patient education training materials including two oral health training videos which participating practices can feature on their websites or provide direct to patients, along with personalised patient treatment plans and printed leaflets, to reinforce the in-practice training they receive.
Full details of the new service including an opportunity to view the videos and all the materials available to reinforce the provision are available by visiting http://bit.ly/10Iv0p8
Complementary Oral Hygiene Audit
To celebrate the launch of its new consultancy service, Dent-O-Care is offering one specialist orthodontic practice the chance to win a free ‘gold standard’ audit. One of its Clinical Advisors will spend the day in the practice and assess staff performance in providing the gold standard of oral health provision to patients. Following the audit the winning practice will be provided with a report detailing the advisors findings and recommendations, as well as a full loaded VITIS® orthodontic stocking unit containing a comprehensive range of specialist oral hygiene products.
How to enter: Simply register on http://bit.ly/10Iv0p8. Enter your details on the contact page and Dent-O-Care will draw the name of a practice to win this prize after the closing date of 31 July 2013.