Survey explores keys to patient adherence
to homecare recommendations

Majority of respondents recommend patients use OTC fluoride mouth rinses

About 61% of surveyed dentists often recommend that patients use of an over-the-counter fluoride mouth rinse, and teenagers were most-often cited as an age group to receive the recommendation from dentists.

Those key findings were from a 2021 ADA Vendor Showcase survey, conducted on behalf of ACT, to learn more about dentist preferences relating to fluoride use and homecare recommendations. The email survey, conducted in early 2021, was sent to 131,000 dental care professionals in the United States, netting 1,367 responses. About 1,324 of the respondents were dentists.

When asked if you routinely recommend the use of an over-the-counter mouth rinse to patients, the majority of respondents report they do. Responses included:

  • Yes, often: 61%
  • Yes, sometimes: 25%
  • Yes, but not very often: 9%
  • No: 5%

For the small percentage of respondents who do not routinely recommend an OTC fluoride mouth rinse, the reasons were because the practice offers in-office fluoride treatments or it has not been a focus of a homecare regimen. Only two respondents from this group say that patients do not see the benefits to oral health, and two other respondents report that patients are expressing resistance to fluoride use.






Interestingly enough, dentists or health care professionals report recommending use of an OTC fluoride mouth rinse to most age groups, and teenagers were most frequently noted by respondents.

When it comes to patient adherence to homecare recommendations by patients, the survey sought to better understand adherence rates and the impact of communication strategies to improve homecare.



Results include:

Q: On a scale of 1-10, please rate your average adult patient's knowledge about fluoride and its benefits? 1 = little understanding about fluoride and its benefits; 10 = strong understanding about fluoride and its benefits for oral health.

On average, survey respondents rated their adult patients with a 5 rating on a scale of 1-10. Total number of respondents for this question was 1,308.

Q: Which age groups are most likely to adhere to your recommendations to use an OTC fluoride mouth rinse? (Respondents were permitted to check multiple responses.)

  • Children (6-12): 30%
  • Teenagers (13-19): 24%
  • 20s: 26%
  • 30s: 38%
  • 40s: 37%
  • 50s: 38%
  • 60s: 40%

Q: What communication tactics have generated the strongest results after recommending a fluoride mouth rinse?

  • Consistent education reminders: 69%
  • Demonstration/instruction about the proper way to use a fluoride mouth rinse: 25%
  • Product samples: 62%
  • In-office discussions about fluoride benefits
  • Follow-up communications regarding the patient visit and care recommendations: 20%
  • Take-home information regarding fluoride and/or fluoride mouth rinses: 27.17%
  • Other: 3%

Q: What oral health conditions would precipitate the recommendation for an OTC fluoride mouth rinse? (Respondents were permitted to check multiple responses.)

  • Decalcification/white spots: 80%
  • Dental decay/caries: 89%
  • Root caries: 73%
  • Acid erosion: 45%
    Dry mouth: 59%
  • Use of removable/partial dentures: 25%
  • Lifestyle/poor oral hygiene practices: 76%
  • Other: 9%

Respondent profile

About 97% of survey respondents report being a dentist. The remaining respondents identified their role in practice as hygienist, dental assistant, office manager and other.

The average age of the respondent base was 44.

By practice type

  • General dentistry: 1097
  • Pediatric dentistry: 91
  • Periodontics: 33
  • Prosthodontics: 21
  • Dental Public Health: 15
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: 11
  • Endodontics: 9
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: 3
  • Orofacial Pain: 3
  • Dental Anesthesiology: 1
  • Oral Medicine: 1
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: 0

By practice size
Number of dentists in the practice

  • One: 40%
  • Two: 28%
  • Three to four: 20%
  • Five to six: 4%
  • Seven to eight: 2%
  • Nine or more: 6%

Number of hygienists

  • One: 41%
  • Two: 23%
  • Three to four: 23%
  • Five to six: 8%
  • Seven to eight: 2%
  • Nine or more: 3%

Position in practice

  • Owner: 46%
  • Owner–group practice:9%
  • Associate: 19%
  • Associate–group practice: 8%
  • Employee: 6%
  • Employee–group practice: 5%
  • Independent contractor: 3%
  • Not in practice: <1%