BSDHT Ambassador Robiha Nazir – championing interdental cleaning
Dental professionals know how important interdental cleaning is as part of an effective oral hygiene routine. Whether by using string floss, water flossers, interdental brushes or other means, cleaning between teeth makes a big difference to oral health.
So, why are patients failing to clean interdentally, and how can dental hygienists and therapists help patients introduce interdental cleaning into their daily routines?
British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) Ambassador for 2020 and dental hygienist Robiha Nazir discusses interdental cleaning and how to help patients see the light…
“One thing I’ve noticed as a dental hygienist is that interdental cleaning is still a topic we need to discuss more thoroughly with patients. From my experience, although patients have an awareness of the importance of flossing, a lot of them still don’t do it. This makes it clear that we need to change our approach to how we educate patients regarding the topic.
“I’ve spoken to patients and they’ve been shocked about the potential impact that not cleaning interdentally can have. This tells me that these people aren’t getting proper information about interdental hygiene, and this is something that dental therapists and dental hygienists are ideally placed to address.
“Like brushing teeth, interdental cleaning should become a habit. I once read somewhere that forming a habit takes 66 days, and this is what we need to achieve with our patients. Past this mark, the muscle memory of the body kicks in, and if they then choose not to floss or interdentally clean it has to be a conscious choice.”
A better attitude
Robiha continues: “I’d say around 80% of my patients do clean interdentally, but not always on a daily basis, which makes the habit hard to form. That’s why I always make sure that I work with my patients to give them the relevant information and help them develop a better attitude towards interdental cleaning.
“Tell patients about periodontitis and the associated risks that this disease brings. Tell them that brushing the gums is just as important as brushing their teeth – it’s amazing how many people incorrectly believe that brushing gums can damage them.
“One example I like to use is to compare interdental cleaning with other hygiene routines – would you shower and not wash every part of your body? This helps patients think about interdental cleaning as a routine necessity instead of something that can be avoided.”
“The most important thing is to find a method that works for them. We need to be honest and say that different choices suit different people, but there is a winning method for everyone. I like to see how their current method is working and try to make it perfect.
“If someone is using string floss, show them how to use it properly and how to get the best results. If this doesn’t work suggest another method such as water flossing or interdental brushes and show them how to use these properly too – every patient will have a preference and the results will vary, so find the solution that works best for them.
“This will also encourage them to adopt interdental cleaning as part of their oral health routine. Find a solution that suits their lifestyle and doesn’t feel like a huge daily chore is essential.”
She adds: “I joined the BSDHT because I wanted to be part of a Society where my love for my job could be celebrated. Working as a dental hygienist is not always easy, so when the chance to become an Ambassador for the BSDHT presented itself I wanted to apply.
“Using my position as a BSDHT Ambassador I want to put extra energy into encouraging interdental cleaning and making sure that patients are getting accurate information on the topic. I also want to promote the benefits of being part of a Society to other dental hygienists and dental therapists.
“The BSDHT has always been very supportive and they understand and help everyone who needs assistance. This is a resource that should be treasured.”
For more information about the BSDHT, visit www.bsdht.org.uk
Top photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash