iTOP teachers explain why they recommend this prophylaxis training to all dental professionals

You cannot learn a great brushing technique from a book.

Since 2006 more than 20,000 dental professionals and students have participated in Individually Trained Oral Prophylaxis (iTOP) seminars in more than 60 countries around the world. Five iTOP teachers shared with us their experiences of how the practical knowledge from this unique form of education has impacted their practices and their relationships with patients.  

What is iTOP?

iTOP – individually trained oral prophylaxis – is a systematic way to learn optimal oral health management, through hands-on training (Touch to Teach) on the use of selected tools and techniques. iTOP covers a widely accepted, effective and non-traumatic way of learning good oral care. It’s a principle based on practicing our knowledge on a daily basis for ourselves and, eventually, for our patients.

Individually instructed oral care routine means sustainable good oral health for life! This is the goal, and the philosophy, of iTOP. Through iTOP training, we become mentors for our patients. We don’t just manage their oral health issues, but coach them so that they can benefit from our experience and knowledge. 

Since 2006, over 20,000 professionals in more than 60 countries around the world have attended iTOP seminars.

“It helps to teach patients to distinguish between mediocre and well-designed products”

Elna Van Der Ham, RDH, dental hygienist, South Africa

“I have had the privilege of being in practice for 43 years now, but iTOP – since it became a part of my daily routine – has revolutionised the way I think and perform with my patients. I had a literal ‘lightbulb moment’ whilst attending an iTOP training in Prague 2014. 

We always think we know the best daily routine for good oral hygiene – the routine we practice ourselves, and that which we teach others. But when you take stock of your techniques and implements, the moment of truth comes when you realise that it is individual training that is imperative for both the clinicians, and their patients.

Biofilm plays a significant role in the oral cavity. iTOP explores this role, and by gaining knowledge and understanding we can motivate and inform our patients to see the systemic benefits of excellent oral health. Using the correct, and well-designed, brushes and interdental aids play a critical part in the daily routine of good oral care.

iTOP has access to excellent products and we are able to teach patients to distinguish between mediocre and well-designed products. Everyone falls in love with the vibrant colours, but also the delicate gentle feel of the toothbrushes, interdental brushes and solo brushes. The solo brush, touch-to-teach and the rosary technique are unique ways of adding value to the daily routine. 

The iTOP philosophy is based on two core beliefs of the course’s founder, Jiří Sedelmayer: that ‘a clean tooth cannot be sick’ and ‘you cannot learn a great brushing technique from a book’.

I have implemented this philosophy, as well as the iTOP techniques, in my practice with great success, thus empowering both myself and my patients to achieve excellent daily oral hygiene routines and ultimately reducing the systemic impact that derives from bad oral health. There is scientific evidence to back up the iTOP philosophy and therefore we can, with great confidence, recommend iTOP to every clinician and patient.”

“iTOP is a totally new concept in preventive dentistry”

Fabio Angelini, dental hygienist, Italy

“I found out about iTOP just one year after my graduation as a dental hygienist, and when I felt as though I was working beneath my true potential. iTOP, and the iTOP people, spread light into my daily work routine, and into my future career as a professional dental hygienist.

From the first meeting I felt like someone was showing me that my own ‘idea of working’ was possible, was already there and, furthermore, was very well organised! This inspired me so much to go further on this journey. Thus, a few years later, I became one of the youngest iTOP lecturers.

It allowed me to guide my patients to heal themselves, on their own, by teaching them precise techniques, giving them the right instruments and always motivating them to improve their abilities. In this way I always achieved their trust, and together – as a team – we’d achieve biofilm balance, which in turn leads to what we were looking for: good health. 

iTOP showed me how hard it could be to teach someone what I call the ‘Art of brushing teeth’, but also the clinical benefits that originate from these efforts. This creates a totally new concept in preventive dentistry, that allows us, as professionals, to create a solid basis for lifelong oral health.”

“iTOP both teaches and improves the skills needed to be an effective hygiene trainer”

Jagoda Weihönig, dental hygienist, Poland

“During iTOP training I learned the fastest and most effective way to prevent gum and tooth disease. To illustrate the results of iTOP in my practice, I always share this story and pictures:

“A patient aged 35 came to the hygiene office. The first photo was taken before the hygienisation. The second picture I took two weeks after the procedure – after the hygienisation and iTOP training. The results speak for themselves!

In addition to mechanical cleaning, I also ran a brushing lesson using the method developed by Dr. Sedelmayer, called touch-to-teach. Hand in hand, I practiced with the patient cleaning the most difficult places in the mouth. Thanks to this, the patient has clean teeth not only on the day of professional dental hygiene, but every day. The patient was taught effective, non-traumatic brushing in critical areas – the interdental spaces and the gingival sulcus.

It was the efficient control of biofilm in these places with appropriate techniques and tools that made it possible to achieve such a spectacular effect in just two weeks. We see an improvement, and the gums are not damaged from brushing because a non-traumatic approach is used.

The course both teaches and improves the skills needed to be an effective hygiene trainer. It shows you specific methods which, when implemented, give you immediate results and a progression that will head towards perfection. Your knowledge and skills can guide your patients, and keep them healthy –– this is the iTOP school.

That’s why I’m not afraid of sick patients, because I know exactly what to do to help them. This is the whole purpose to, and satisfaction behind, my work – patients’ health!”

“This course made me understand what brushing my teeth actually means”

Dr. Camelia Roman, dentist, Romania

“iTOP was a game-changer in my professional and personal life. And it is the same for anyone who attends this seminar, because it is the only seminar in which prevention is taught. The approach is completely different, by any means, to what we are used to and to what we are told in universities.

The seminar fills the huge gap we face in terms of dental prevention, and shows us how having good general health can begin in our mouth. Actually, this course made me understand what brushing my teeth really means, and I can say I’ve only known how to properly brush my teeth since I attended iTOP, even as a dental professional!

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“After iTOP, the way I practiced dentistry changed completely because now all my patients know the importance of their interdental spaces, and together we can practice how to properly use an interdental brush, which can have a higher impact than you can imagine on your overall health.

This course therefore gave me a mission to spread its philosophy and teach my patients, and my loved ones, about the impact of prevention in long term.”

“It’s a great reminder of how important preventive care is”

Stacy Atnip, RDH, BS, dental hygienist, USA

“iTOP is one of the most enlightening and motivating courses I have ever attended. After being in the dental profession for over 25 years, it was a great reminder of how important – now more than ever – preventive care is in our world. 

The practical course provided me with new tools, tips and ideas that I not only implemented for myself, but also for my patients. It has also allowed me to start the much-needed conversation in regards to preventive care with many colleagues. Taking the time to have the sometimes difficult conversation with co-workers as well as patients in regards to explaining ‘WHY’ our teeth and/or gums are not healthy and what one can do to change that, from behaviour to using different tools and techniques.  

It has motivated me in a way that I feel refreshed and renewed as a dental professional, about the importance of something as simple as looking for certain safe and effective criteria when choosing a manual toothbrush, and how proper techniques can make a very big difference. Not to mention the powerful yet often overlooked flossing alternative – the interdental brush, which has been overwhelmingly accepted as resulting in improved home care, reductions in bleeding and better patient motivation.”