Dental Tribune Switzerland
At the symposium, participants learned more about how to teach patients perfect brushing habits and motivate them to actively implement them. (Image: Curaden)

A programme for perfect prevention—seventh iTOP Symposium takes place in Vienna

By Curaden
October 06, 2021

VIENNA, Austria: Thirty top-level iTOP instructors recently met in Vienna for the seventh iTOP Symposium—a week full of brushing and oral health lectures. Individually trained oral prophylaxis (iTOP) is a hands-on prophylaxis training programme for dental professionals and students aimed at enabling them to perfect their biofilm management skills. The symposium, which takes places each year, serves as a recall for all lecturers in order to keep their skills up to date and to ensure continuous top-notch education in their respective countries.

The techniques and philosophy behind iTOP were developed over 20 years ago by Czech prophylaxis pioneer Dr Jiří Sedelmayer, but remain as revolutionary as ever in universities and dental practices. To this day, practical oral hygiene training is still largely absent from the curricula for dental students, and restorative treatment remains the main focus. The iTOP programme works by turning patients into active participants in their own health. Thanks to the programme’s “touch to teach” approach, dental students or practising professionals receive individual, hands-on instruction about the right tools and techniques for optimal biofilm removal, which they then pass on to their patients.

According to chief iTOP instructor Dr Lucie Sedelmayer, iTOP’s preventative philosophy will play an ever greater role in the dental practice of tomorrow, as patients become increasingly better informed about health and prevention, and as oral hygiene takes a more central place in the practice. “Dentists are realising that perfect oral health is not just a theoretical concept but also something that is achievable with the right tools and techniques,” Sedelmayer said.

Involving patients to the maximum

Changing patients’ lifelong brushing habits requires a great deal of motivational and communicational skills. A lecture by Portuguese dental hygienist Dr Mário Rui Araújo stressed the role of individual behavioural change in iTOP. “Dental professionals can change the behaviour of their patients, but this change is built upon the individual relationship that we manage to establish with each patient,” Rui said. “There is no one-fits-all solution here; therapy needs to be seen as an opportunity of the moment. Treatment planning should include an assessment of the patient’s behaviour; if a patient is self-aware and able to self-monitor, this ensures good treatment outcomes and good health in the long term. Patients themselves should be part of the strategy, and continuous feedback from us as dental professionals is essential. Behavioural change is a process, not a single event.”

A much-needed protocol for orthodontic patients

Patients undergoing orthodontic treatment are at an increased risk of caries and gingival inflammation. This year’s iTOP Symposium put specific emphasis on orthodontitis and the development of an oral hygiene protocol for orthodontic patients. “Without proper oral hygiene instruction, the combined inflammation of orthodontic forces and gingival biofilm is a mess,” Ecuadorian Dr Carlos Molina said. “Dentists and dental hygienists need to be in constant contact with orthodontists. Without an oral hygiene protocol that takes individual needs into account, the patient is at risk. When orthodontists go through the ortho-iTOP training and then instruct their patients, the perception of orthodontic treatment as a risk for oral health could become something of the past.”

“If health were seen as a continuous project, the costs for society would be minimal. That is why our collaboration with universities will remain a key priority,” Curaden managing director Christine Breitschmid summarised. “Dental professionals should not leave patients in the dark and let their health depend on a yearly cleaning or quick-fix. If people have better knowledge about themselves and form good habits, their lives and health will change for the better.”

Dental students or practising professionals interested in taking part in an iTOP seminar can contact the lecturer in their respective country.

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