Objective: To investigate the extent to which dental hygienists target their efforts toward patients’ oral hygiene instruction.
Method and Materials: A population of 179 dental hygienists who attended an annual meeting were given a structured anonymous questionnaire to assess information regarding their habits of instructing patients about oral hygiene measures.
Results: The dental hygienists were females aged 21 to 68 years (mean age 39.05 ± 18.18); 49.7% worked in private practice, 21.7% in public practice, and 28.57% in both. Overall, 70.9% reported that they provided oral hygiene instruction to all their patients; 28.5% to most of their patients; and 0.6% reported that they never provided oral hygiene instruction. Among the participants, 54.5% reported giving instruction at every treatment, 41% at every periodic treatment, and 4.5% only on first meeting. The reasons for not instructing their patients included: lack of time (21.7%), the patients know how to brush (61.5%), and the patient appears uninterested (23.6%). Most of the participants (77.7%) reported giving the same hygiene instructions for patients at high and low risk for caries and/or periodontal disease.
Conclusion: Participants did not use enough demonstration methods in order to improve their patients’ performance. Dental hygienists should pay more attention to instruction and education regarding oral hygiene preventive measures. Dental practitioners employing hygienists should encourage oral hygiene instruction programs in their clinics. Those programs should include repetitious demonstrations and reinforcement in order to improve overall outcome and prevention of future disease.
Keywords: brushing, instruction, interproximal brush, prevention, rinsing, toothpaste, toothpick