Pitfalls of pharmacy prescription toothpaste
Compliance is key
Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: quick and easy tips to keep you up to date and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Hayley Buckner: Hello, everyone. I’m Hayley Buckner here again for Elevate Oral Care and the May 2021 TIPisode. Through the last series of TIPisodes, you’ve heard us mention the importance of prescription-strength fluorides for patients at moderate to high risk for tooth decay. The ADA has guidelines recommending these patients receive this treatment to lower their risk and to prevent future decay.
The daily application of a high-strength fluoride product will benefit patients much more than even a fluoride varnish application from your practice can provide [sic], and we’re not just talking about kids here. Adults need these therapies too.
Many offices carry these products and dispense or prescribe them to patients as needed, and we encourage this system as it’s the most effective at providing medication and treatment for patients. However, the majority of dental offices don’t have products on hand to provide to patients and rely on the pharmacies to deliver the product that they prescribe.
For drugs such as pain medications and pill-form drugs, this might be okay. However, when it comes to prescription toothpastes, there are many pitfalls that the traditional prescription process just doesn’t handle well.
For example, if your dentist prescribes one tube of 5000 parts per million fluoride dentifrice to be used twice daily in place of the patient’s regular over the counter toothpaste, what are the potential issues that can happen here? Well, first, think about the products that the pharmacy might have on hand.
There are 3 common sized packages: a 1.8 ounce tube, which is the most common size in pharmacies; a 3.4 ounce tube; and a 4 ounce tube. One will only last a few weeks, while the others will last three months or more, but the patient might be on a six-month recall. So, to correct this, we write for 5 refills of the 1.1 percent sodium fluoride dentifrice. That might be correct for the 1.8 ounce product, but if the patient gets the 3.4 ounce product, that prescription might provide therapy for 18 months. In pill-form medications, the prescription denotes a number of pills. With tube-based products, it’s just a tube with no set volume.
Another issue is what’s inside or not inside the product that’s being prescribed. Many of the brands available in pharmacies do not contain abrasives. If the instructions say to use in place of your toothpaste, the patient will no longer have the benefit of abrasive plaque and stain removal. They may start to see plaque buildup and even stains from coffee, wine, and other things, and that’s not a complaint that most offices want to have from their patients returning.
On top of the product issues, there’s the compliance issue as well. Patients have to take the prescription to a pharmacy, which often has to order the product and receive it on another day, and then pick it up. This means multiple trips to get their product, which is driving compliance down.
To simplify things, we recommend dispensing at-home products like a 1.1 percent sodium fluoride toothpaste directly from your practice. Again, this is the most effective way you ensure your patients get what they need. So dispense if you can.
However, if your office can’t or doesn’t want to dispense, we’ve partnered with healthwarehouse.com to make home delivery of prescription toothpaste easy. They’ll even follow up for refills and renewal of prescriptions. We’re calling the program Elevate Right, and it’s easy to begin.
Simply download the prescription form, fill out your practice information, and print out several copies to use. Then, when you need a prescription, just fill in the patient information, check the products, the quantity, and the flavors you want, and send it to healthwarehouse.com, and they’ll do the rest.
If you’re using electronic prescription process [sic], the process is even easier. Simply preload one of our 5000 parts per million fluoride dentifrices in your prescription, choose healthwarehouse.com as the patient’s pharmacy, and click submit.
To learn more or to have one of our preventive care consultants help set your practice up for using the system, just call 877-866-9113 or visit us at elevateoralcare.com/staffmeetings.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.