Back to the basics: Bacteria, brushing, and oral health

Back to the basics: Bacteria, brushing, and oral health

What is the single most important factor that determines oral health? What do we as dental professionals do that affects our patients the most? You know those patients in your practice whose mouths are pristine? What do you suppose is the reason behind that? Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS, brushes up on the answers to these questions, as he seeks to combat periodontal disease and make a lasting impact on the quality of patients’ lives.

OF ALL THE THINGS WE DO as dental health-care professionals, which one is the most important … the most impactful … the one that has the ability to improve the quality of our patients’ lives the most? Is it anything in the restorative realm? Does it have anything to do with edentulousness? Is it an aspect of endodontics or oral surgery or tooth movement? Does it involve the use of costly dental equipment? Does it require very esoteric knowledge or a lot of continuing education and certifications?

It is none of these. But the fact that it is none of these does not diminish the importance of restorative, endodontic, orthodontic, periodontal, or oral surgical specialists and procedures or highly sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic equipment and devices. All are vitally important and irreplaceable when the need arises.

How many times per year do the vast majority of patients visit our offices for any type of hygiene appointment? Two to four times per year, obviously. Of course, there are exceptions, but let’s put that aside for now. So, for each of the other 361 to 363 days per year, who is acting as their hygienist?

What is the single most important factor that determines the health, or the lack thereof, of the mouth? It is the population of bacteria, which reproduce every few hours. It is a constant struggle to keep bacteria in check.

Think of your patients whose oral health is pristine … those whose mouths couldn’t look better. Why is that? Does it have something to do with how they picked their parents? Absolutely. But beyond that it is because their daily home-care regimen is effective, and they never slack off. Think about those patients whom you have turned around, because no one ever told them how to take care of their mouth, and now they are walking billboards for oral health.

When a patient presents to the dental office, especially new patients, with any level of periodontal disease, why is that? Every patient’s oral health is a direct reflection of their home care. If they have any level of periodontal disease, something has to change.

Do you want to have a lasting impact on your patients and gain loyal missionaries for you and your practice? Show them how to brush. Just something to think about.

Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS, has practiced general dentistry in suburban Philadelphia for more than 30 years. He is a speaker, advisory board member, consultant, and key opinion leader for several dental companies and organizations. He lectures on a variety of topics centered on understanding the impact dental professionals have beyond the oral cavity.


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