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Over the past year in clinic, there have been several instances when I was asked by patients which toothpaste, toothbrush, or dental gizmo I would recommend. At first, I was caught off guard. I, myself a dental student, don’t even know what toothpaste I’m using half of the time (I usually use whatever is at home or on sale). Over time, these questions became more common and required me to have a better answer for my patients. Pre-clinic and classes do an adequate job of preparing us for clinic, but some parts, like patient recommendations, are left out.

 

The most common question I have been asked has been the use of a power toothbrush versus a manual one, followed by the use of an automated flosser over traditional flossing. Having used only a manual toothbrush and traditional floss, I never knew how to answer these questions. I usually went one of two ways: Either share my oral hygiene routine with the patient or repeat what I have heard other student dentists tell their patients.

 

Recently, Waterpik and Sonicare both conducted lunch and learns at Midwestern University School of Dentistry. This was a great opportunity to learn about the two products, and to be more aware of all the different dental products available to us. As dental students, we have ample resources to help guide us in performing clinical procedures. In this case, I realized that lunch and learns conducted by ethical manufacturers present valuable opportunities to learn about other important parts of our lives as dental caregivers. There are also ample resources available online, such as evidence-based articles, reviews, and websites such as THENEXTDDS, to support us as future practitioners.

 

Throughout our career, we will face many challenges. It’s important to realize that we have multiple resources available to supplement our classroom learning and put to use chairside. The more we use these resources and become better educated on dental products, consumables, and at-home treatments, the more knowledgeable we then become to suggest products that are tailor-made for each patient.