Test driving Oral-B’s electric toothbrushes and speeding up the educational process

Test DriveKai King talks to DH&T about Oral-B’s try before you buy programme and how it has helped speed up the tooth brushing educational process.

As consumers we can all be reluctant to embrace new technology unless we’ve experienced it and can see for ourselves the benefits afforded by its use. That’s why Oral-B invited four hygienists to demonstrate the use of its Test Drive trial programme to other dental professionals at this year’s BDA Conference. The new Test Drive trial programme allows both dental professionals and their patients the chance to try Oral-B’s power toothbrushes without having to worry about cross infection concerns. Now everyone can experience the product without having to buy it.

DH&T talks to Kai King, one of the hygienists who demonstrated Test Drive to visitors at the conference, about her experience.

DH&T: How did you come to work on the Oral-B stand at the BDA Conference?

Kai King (KK): I was invited by one of the Oral-B reps; we always talk gums whenever we meet, whether it is at the practice or at courses and exhibitions. He knew of my experiences working with periodontal cases and my longevity in the job of dental hygienist and I suppose he was looking for passion and enthusiasm in his demonstrators and as anyone who has met me will know, I am both!

DH&T: What were you required to do on the stand?

KK: Demonstrate how to test drive the Oral-B toothbrush directly inside each person’s mouth, while explaining the cross infection prevention routine P&G has devised in order to be able to do this safely and repeatedly whether in an exhibition or practice environment.

This is a world first! Manchester was the first place in the world to test drive the toothbrush heads in a person’s mouth safely and with almost no risk of cross infection.

The new Cross Action brush head was also introduced at this event. Another first for Manchester. We were given our own sample to trial and I must say I am impressed. The softness of the bristles together with the new angled design makes the Cross Action ideal for everyone to brush thoroughly, but especially useful for periodontally compromised patients.

DH&T: What feedback did you get from those that tried the trial programme?

KK: Lots of fun and giggles. And I would say 95% positive for my visitors, once they’d got past the idea of ‘dribbling in the sink’ in an exhibition hall!

The Oral-B stand was designed very well to prevent the person test driving the brush from being on full show to the masses passing the stand each day, but the footfall was so high on the stand, the popularity of Test Drive meant that there was nearly always a queue to trial the brush. Everyone I trialled this with enjoyed the experience and felt that the electric brush made an improvement over their manual one.

Many found that their gums were bleeding when they spat out, prompting a conversation about gingivitis and how the brush was improving their adequacy in oral hygiene.

DH&T: How important do you think it is to actually demonstrate proper brushing technique to patients?

KK: Vitally important! It is the fundamental technique that they will use to improve plaque control in their mouth. It is important to be able to demonstrate brushing techniques in the patients’ mouth and then getting them to repeat and understand how the bristles should feel on the teeth and gums is essential. Show me and I’ll watch, tell me and I’ll listen but involve me and I will learn; Test Drive allows this involvement.

Generally, people rely heavily on the mirror when brushing their teeth and gums at home in the bathroom. When coaching my patients I always ask them to ‘get their head down over the sink and dribble as much as possible’, this way they are focused on the feel of the bristles and inevitably improve their oral cleanliness.

Just imagine you have a hair in your mouth. How do you remove it? Not with the help of a mirror! You use the tips of your fingers and your tongue to search out the tiny hair in your mouth. Your fingertips and your tongue are highly sensitive to textures, you can feel for that hair and find it without the need of vision. Now imagine using that thought when brushing – look down and feel your bristles as if they are your fingertips around each tooth, instantly you brush more effectively.

The mirror focuses you on what you can see and we all know where the plaque builds most and it’s not where you can see to remove it!

DH&T: How do you believe the trial programme is going to change people’s brushing habits?

KK: Experiencing how the brush works and feels while it’s working in the mouth enables the patient to then go home and repeat the procedure again and again consistently well. Therefore, if they already own an electric Oral-B electric toothbrush, they can instantly improve their mouths at home. And for those hesitant to buy an electric toothbrush, once they have experienced the test drive feeling in their mouth, I think they will be much more likely to go out and buy the product. Cost is a barrier to some people, so being able to ‘try before you buy’ is ideal for these people. I believe it will increase the amount of patients/people that improve their oral health as they have experienced the sensation of correct brushing technique and have the ability to repeat this time and time again.

DH&T: What about cross infection?

KK: Oral-B has developed specialised handles and replacement heads to ensure the safe trial of its toothbrush. A sealing insert within the head helps prevent saliva entering the handle. To provide extra protection, a disposable sheath covers the handle itself. After cleaning and disinfection, in line with international standards, the handle is then ready to be used again with a fresh head.

Each Test Drive kit contains the specialised handle, 50 replacement heads, 55 sheaths and a cleaning a disinfection instruction manual.

DH&T: Do you have any advice you’d give to hygienists using the programme in practice?

KK: Be enthusiastic about Test Drive, it will help you in your work.

Yes, thoroughness of plaque control is the key to health, so teach the patient a routine that they can remember and repeat easily.

My routine is called ‘TLC technique’, we all need a lot of tender loving care to maintain our mouths in a healthy state. So to carry out TLC:

  • First brush where your tongue fits against your teeth
  • Then brush where your lips fit against your teeth
  • Finally brush where you chew your food – TLC.

Bend your head down over your sink and ignore the mirror, dribble and spit as you go but always return to the place that you stopped the brushing and continue the routine from there.

If you are right-handed, start with the lower right at the last tooth on the tongue side. Place the brush on the tooth with the edge bristles just touching the gum line and follow the routine, not taking the toothbrush out of your mouth (dribbling is good). Then move to the upper right last tooth near your palate where your tongue fits and repeat the three stages.

In total you will have brushed around your teeth six times, three on the lower jaw and three on the upper jaw.

If you are left-handed, start lower left and continue as above.

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