Improving patient compliance


  Posted by: The Probe      27th March 2020

The removal of plaque through a combination of at-home oral care and professional intervention in practice is the cornerstone of achieving excellent oral health. Success ultimately depends upon good patient compliance with recommended oral hygiene regimens. Dental professionals strive to emphasise the importance of oral healthcare to patients, yet there are many individuals who still fail to look after their teeth and gums properly. This leaves them vulnerable to future complications, including oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontitis. Indeed, the statistics paint a concerning picture in relation to patient compliance with even the most basic of oral care exercises.

According to Simplyhealth’s Consumer Oral Health Survey 2019, four out of five adults in Britain recognise the importance of prevention, with 84% agreeing that the better they look after their teeth and gums, the better chance they have of avoiding costly and invasive dental treatment in the future. However, despite public awareness of the need for preventive oral care, 23% of UK adults still only brush their teeth once a day. Even more alarming is the fact that 33% say they never floss, while 1% admit that they don’t brush at all. Moreover, 11% think that they don’t need to visit the dentist regularly. With patients’ oral health at stake, how can clinicians improve compliance and convince patients that prevention is important?


Listening is a skill that every dental professional should aim to master. There is a lot to be said for simply engaging with patients and finding out a little bit about their lifestyle and oral hygiene habits. It is vital that you actively listen to what they have to say, as this is key to building a good patient-practitioner rapport. In turn, patients are more likely to trust that you have their best interests in mind, which increases the chances that they will comply with recommended treatment. Gaining a better understanding of the patient will also enable you to tailor your professional advice and guidance according to their individual needs and preferences.


Once you have an accurate picture of the patient’s oral health, you will be in a better position to offer the right support. It may be worthwhile using visual aids and props during discussions with the patient in practice. It is important to clearly explain the risks and realities of their situation, providing relevant information that will be useful to the patient, without using a lot of technical jargon. For instance, if a patient has gingivitis, you can explain that problems with their gums can be stopped, reversed and prevented from reoccurring so long as they improve their oral hygiene. Furthermore, you can stress how important it is that the patient acts now, as gingivitis can develop into a much more serious and irreversible condition.


Patients have to want to make improvements for oral hygiene to be effective. There is no better way to do this than by using praise and positive reinforcement to motivate patients about their oral health. Fear and financial constraints are the biggest barriers to dental care – patients don’t need another excuse not to seek professional support, so it is essential that you avoid nagging them wherever possible. Instead, reassure them that routine oral care and visits to the dental practice are worthwhile, cost-saving exercises. By motivating patients rather than chastising them, you are more likely to find that oral hygiene compliance improves.


Recall appointments are vital to ensuring that patients maintain a high standard of oral care at home – proof that they are will be evident upon their return to the practice for a professional examination and cleaning. These recall appointments will also provide you the opportunity to regularly review the patient’s oral hygiene techniques, enabling you to offer advice and guidance on how they can improve their regime and boost oral health. After you have gone through all the effort of getting the patient to schedule a recall appointment, it is essential that you remind them to attend the appointment through persistent and consistent prompts.


Armed with knowledge about their condition, patients require the tools to maintain good long-term oral health. This is when you can recommend the use of products that will empower patients. For example, traditional chlorhexidine (CHX) mouth rinses offer optimal protection against plaque, and can be prescribed to patients with acute dental problems, as well as those at high risk of oral disease. However, these solutions are associated with adverse side effects such as discolouration and disrupted taste. As such, consider recommending the new Perio Plus+ product range. Designed to effectively combat plaque, Perio Plus+ combines CHX with CITROX® – a natural bioflavonoid extracted from bitter oranges. The joint performance of these ingredients is scientifically proven to afford greater efficacy than CHX alone, with minimal risk of adverse side effects to encourage high patient compliance.

Many dental professionals would agree that compliance is one of the most challenging aspects of clinical practice. Although success is not always certain, clinicians can help improve compliance through patient education and empowerment, which takes but a little time, effort and patience.

For more information please call 01480 862084, email or visit

About the author

Dawn Woodward is National Sales Manager at Curaprox UK

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