A recent survey, featured in 'The Dentist' magazine for December 2016, found that one-in-five people admitted to not cleaning their teeth over the weekend.

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Whilst a quarter said it was due to hangovers most claimed that unless they were going out to meet people they couldn't see the point? It juxtaposed this fact with another finding that people who work from home often do so in their pyjamas, perhaps slipping on a top if having to participate in a Skype meeting.

What this reveals is that a sizeable number of us won't really look after ourselves unless we think other people will see that we are slovenly.

Behaviour change is a darn' hard effect to pull off, and one that dentists and hygienists are constantly battling to achieve. We humans are a funny lot; pride ourselves on being the most rational amongst earthly species yet time and again proving that our motives are often little more than vanity.

Faced with this, there seems little point in condemnation, rather we have to accept that such things have great motivational force.

Figuring out what motivates our patients and recognising the fact that not everyone resonates to the same note could help address the problem of behaviour change. By customising how we speak to people to get them to think seriously about the advantages of cultivating new habits we may achieve our goals. Advertising knows this lesson and will appeal to a number of underlying motives when planning a campaign. Explaining how a car works is less effective than saying how it will enhance your status. Making people feel that they are special or 'exclusive' - 'for the few' by offering the 'latest' inter-dental brushes or toothpaste. These are tried and tested methods and have an effect.

So maybe if you are having a hard time getting through to some of your patients, it might be time to re-think and ask them what would get them to change, what matters to them? Here, getting to know your patients, their buying habits, who they are and what motivates them becomes priceless information that can be used to bit-by-bit effect that necessary change so that you can help them to help themselves.