As a practice we always want to be progressive with initiatives that will lead to better health in our patients. We began to research products that would allow us to stay ahead of dental disease. It was evident that xylitol was at the forefront of research, so after reading many articles Dr. Chris and the hygiene team attended a course on the benefits of xylitol given by Lisa Stillman the NE Xylitol Educator. In this course, everything we had read and heard about xylitol was confirmed and we came back excited and anxious to create a protocol that would be easy to implement and effective in preventing tooth decay.
How did you implement Xylitol into the office?
We decided we wanted to evolve our practice by steering away from the “drill and fill” mentality, so we immediately turned our focus on creating a strong xylitol protocol that would lead towards the prevention of oral disease in our patients. We spent countless hours learning about different products that contained 100% xylitol, the number of grams in the products, and how to best integrate the products throughout the day. It lead to the creation of a protocol that was easy to follow and ensured the correct frequency and therapeutic dosing throughout the day.
What were some of the roadblocks implementing Xylitol into the office?
When we first introduced xylitol, it became evident we would need to equip our entire team on how to recommend xylitol in therapeutic dosages. We had several hands-on training meetings with our administrative team, assistants, hygienists, nutritionist and doctors. During these, we reviewed the amount of xylitol in each of our products to ensure a strong understanding on how to recommend therapeutic doses for each of our patients. To ease the process, bookmarks were created listing the products available in our office. Upon recommendation of xylitol products, we use these as a guide to insert the correct amounts of xylitol to be taken after every meal. This process allows us to calibrate our recommendations, so that as a team we are all on the same page on how to recommend the products. For the caregivers, the bookmarks have created an easy way to follow our recommendations after they leave the office.
How receptive are the patients?
The majority of our patients have been incredibly receptive when we encourage the use of xylitol. They are excited that our recommendations are easy to follow, they love going home with a bookmark that reminds them of the correct amounts of xylitol to use, and are most excited because they know their children will not fight them on eating candies or chewing gum that prevent tooth decay. For parents who are hesitant, their concerns relate more to what the cost of such a program would be. When they learn they can implement therapeutic doses throughout the day for as little as $10 a month or .33 cents a day they then understand that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to change the condition of the mouth from a diseased state to a healthy one.
What results are you seeing in terms of Patients oral hygiene, tooth decay?
After a year of implementing our protocol, we experienced an incredible drop in the number of children being diagnosed with tooth decay. Before we started this program, we had two to three rooms that were fully scheduled for restorative procedures. Three years after implementing our program, we are so proud to say that we are down to one room and the majority of our established patients are now enjoying an oral environment that is not riddled with disease. The patients who are being treated for restorative procedures are our new patients who were never educated on how to prevent tooth decay, or our patients who have not been compliant with our program.
How has the community reacted?
Our parents are so excited about our passion for oral health. They realize we really care about their children and appreciate the time we spend educating them about xylitol and how to prevent tooth decay. They are also overly impressed that we have a full-time nutritionist who can recommend dietary practices that will also lead toward balancing the pH in the mouth and leading to a healthy oral environment. This has really prompted an influx of new patients to our office who have been referred by our established families.
How has this helped with team building?
We have always had an incredibly passionate and educated team, but through this process we have really worked together to ensure comprehensive preventive education for our caregivers. It is great to go home at the end of the day with a smile on our faces knowing we once again made a difference in the lives of our patients. As a team we are proud of our efforts and excited to share our experience with dental professionals who are ready to join us in changing the face of dentistry.
Has this helped with practice building?
While many of our established patients are no longer being seen for extensive restorative care, we have been able to establish a strong hygiene department who treat patients for preventive visits. This is not to say that we are no longer providing restorative care, because we always have the patients that are new to us who come in with a mouth full of cavities, or established patients who just don’t follow through with the program. However, we can proudly say that if a patient comes to us with a disease mouth, you better believe our entire team will jump on board and work as hard as we can to inspire caregivers and equip them with the necessary tools to change the oral environment from a diseased state to HEALTHY state!