Community pharmacists have a huge role to play says Elaine Tilling, head of clinical education for TePe…


Many people don’t know that standard brushing alone cleans only 60% of the tooth’s surface, leaving the remaining surfaces at risk to the build-up of bacteria and plaque.

Moreover, gum disease is extremely common, affecting three out of every four adults over the age of 35 in the UK. This indicates a clear need for greater awareness on how to tackle the issue of poor oral health.

When it comes to matters of oral health, community pharmacists are often the first port of call for advice. This provides pharmacists with a significant opportunity to educate customers on the importance of looking beyond the toothbrush to protect teeth and gums and offer a tailored recommendation on maintaining a good oral health regime.

A pharmacist recommending a routine oral health plan will first need to understand the customer’s individual situation. They may have plaque build-up, gum disease or require a visit to the hygienist – which pharmacists should advise customers to do at least twice a year.

It’s also vital for pharmacists to communicate to customers that effective plaque control through regular brushing and interdental cleaning can reduce the inflammation that is associated with gum disease.

So what products are available for the pharmacist to recommend to the consumer in the battle against poor oral health? Dental accessories have become increasingly popular in recent years.

However, dental floss and dental tape have declined in the last 12 months, with volume sales falling by 11.1%. On the other hand, interdental brushes, which are easier to use and, in most cases, more effective than dental floss, have made customers aware that there are alternative products available to protect and look after your gums.

In fact, use of interdental brushes has shown to be the most efficient way to remove plaque between the teeth. For instance, TePe Interdental Brushes, developed in collaboration with dental professionals, are specially designed for cleaning between the teeth, where regular toothbrushes cannot reach.

Not only do 94% of dental hygienists recommend TePe Interdental Brushes, TePe is also the main interdental brushes brand available in many pharmacy chains, growing ahead of the category by 9.7% vs. 6.7%.

So, what still needs to be done? To raise awareness of the products available to help maintain good oral health, merchandising decisions in pharmacies are key.

For customers who are worried about poor oral hygiene, pharmacists should consider merchandising appropriate products, like TePe Interdental Brushes at the counter where a purchase may be easier.

Finally, encouraging customers with bleeding gums to seek out information is vital. Pharmacists have a fantastic opportunity to highlight the importance of regular visits to the dentist and hygienist, empowering the customer to take action.

If a customer is not comfortable having a conversation about oral health with the pharmacist, then it is important that there is relevant literature available at various touch points in-store. For example, cashiers including an oral health information guide with every purchase could help to increase awareness of the solutions available, using information readily available from NHS sources.

As one of the first points of contact for advice when it comes to issues like oral health, community pharmacists offer a hugely important service to their local neighbourhood.

With this in mind, community pharmacists should work closely with the dental profession to learn more about the range of solutions available, so that they can advise customers on how best to invest in their teeth and gums so that poor oral health can be effectively tackled.

Interdental Brushes are designed to reach the gaps between the teeth and below the gum-line. TePe Interdental Brushes clean 40% more of the tooth’s surface than regular brushing and help to remove plaque from between the teeth which if left can cause gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.


TePe is a leading Swedish oral hygiene company.