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prevention International magazine for oral health No. 1, 2017

opinion | saliva testing a message to patients that interdental cleaning matters. The average patient sitting in my chair does not know how to floss properly; this needs to change. A smartphone to measure, monitor and educate for prevention That is why education and motivation are our primary goals. In the US and many European countries with a good percentage of dental hygienists, we have a tremendous opportunity to educate patients together. During treatment, a great deal of conversation takes place between the hygienist and the patient. If 10 or 15 minutes of this conversation is dedicated to education in a fun way, we are able to become very powerful promoters of oral health. As smartphone use continues to in- crease, oral health promotion via texting has the potential to be a great tool to improve oral health in the global commu- nity. Text messaging should become the most common and effective way to edu- cate patients about their oral and overall health. We have developed a free app to promote overall health for patients, den- tal students and dentists. We named it Text2Floss to focus on the importance of flossing, brushing and rinsing. We also started the oral health PH2OH initiative to deliver new technology for pH saliva testing. Why saliva? Salivary pH testing can play a sig- nificant role in helping to improve oral health by assessing pH as a risk factor for dental caries and dental erosion. It can also be used as an educational tool to engage patients in monitoring and maintaining their self-care. Saliva test- ing, through tools such as the PH2OH app, can be introduced to patients as a follow-up to discussions about oral hy- giene and preventative recommenda- tions and as a way to help remind them and motivate them about maintaining their oral care at home. In the US, saliva-testing and exami- nation tools are used by the dental team to educate patients, assist in preventative treatment planning and properly select dental materials to initiate changes in the patient’s oral health and hygiene. Dental professionals can measure salivary pH with a pH level test strip or litmus pa- per. Placed in a saliva sample, the paper turns a different colour depending upon the pH of the saliva. This colour changes from red (indicating a strong acidic state; pH < 3) to dark blue or purple (indicating a strong alkaline state; pH > 11). Inform the patient right where he or she shops Despite the technological advancements, there is still a major gap between dental care received at the practice and that practised at home. In the US, the aver- age person purchases oral health care products from retail shops and pharma- cies; however, there is no interaction with a health care professional. One may ask a pharmacist at Walmart, but he or she is more likely to merely read the instruction leaflet, not provide advice. That is why I founded Smile Health. The Smile Health centre was created as an inviting environment with a boutique setting for consumers who are not pa- tients yet. Those consumers can ask all sorts of questions at the centre. We also have a clinic behind the glass. We are open six days a week in a more afflu- ent area with heavy traffic. I think that the location is key to success: I wanted the centre to be outside of a mall, but still close to it. The centre only provides state-of-the-art products, such as from Swiss brand CURAPROX. The notion of the Smile Health cen- tre reflects the simple idea of a healthy mouth. Good oral health is not just a lack of pain; it is functionality. I tell my teenage patients that they have to keep their teeth healthy for at least another 60–70 years. Think about the house you live in, the car you drive and all those things that you use on a daily basis. The idea of prevention is to engage individu- als about total care. We have to be the leaders in moving consumers toward a healthy lifestyle. september 2017 37

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