Gail just got back last week from the dentist and was happy to find out she could replace her missing tooth with a dental implant. Her dentist told her it would be 3-6 months to get the final porcelain-fused metal crown and three to four appointments including gingival augmentation surgeries, a healing ca, and fabrication of a provisional restoration.
She ran into her friend Bill and chatted about the new implant she was going to get. Bill said he had an immediacy “Same Day” implant and only one surgery.
Gail wondered why her friend Bill only had one appointment, (or was it two?) and she thought; “Why didn’t my dentist tell me about that kind of implant”? “Why do I have to have all these appointments?”
Well, Gail calls her dental office and wants to know why she isn’t getting a “Same Day” dental implant like her friend Bill. The receptionist is confused, the doctor is busy with a patient, can he call Gail back?
Ah… confusion between patients, doctors and kibitzers, an age-old problem not only in dentistry and medicine, but practically any other human endeavor. How about the auto customer, garage mechanic, friend that had the same car problem and his mechanic fixed it cheaper and “better”? Now cars are cars and no big deal, but when it comes to our health we want to be informed as possible. Right? Well the answer is yes, but does that really happen and if not, how can we as dental patients make it “better” for real?
In this article, we’ll give you some tips on interacting effectively with your dentist and equally as important, what kind of interaction you should expect from your dentist. Also, as an added bonus, you should be better able to manage kibitzers, if not auto ones, dental ones.
Patient/Dentist Communication Problems
If you look at what Gail’s dentist told her above, you may notice some unfamiliar dental terms; “gingival”, “augmentation”, “healing cap”, “porcelain fused to metal crown”.
You might also notice that Gail really didn’t know very much about her implant treatment except to repeat what her dentist told her. And her friend Bill gave Gail incorrect information about his treatment. Bill meant “immediate” implant, not “immediacy” and there are no implants treatments that only involve one appointment.
So why does it matter? And the answer is as long as there are no misunderstandings along the way, maybe it doesn’t. But, there’s the rub, misunderstandings happen. Better to try and eliminate or minimize them.
Here are some common problems that happen in dentist/patient communications.
Patient Centered Issues
- “The doctor/dentist is always right” patient mind set.
- Patients don’t understand dental terms or what procedures may involve
- Patients don’t ask about other treatments available.
- Questioning my treatment may mean the dentist will get upset.
- Patients rarely respond to the question, “Have any questions”.
- Patients routinely sign consent forms without really understanding them.
- Patients routinely forget 60-80 percent of information given to them by healthcare givers.
Dentist Centered Issues
- Dentist uses dental terminology in explanations to patients
- Dentist rushes through patient consultations
- Dentist doesn’t explain alternative treatments.
- Dentist neglects to include the patient in the treatment process.
- Dentist accepts “No” routinely as the answer to “Any questions”.
Effective communication is a two-way street. Numerous studies show that patient and healthcare providers who establish genuine rapport describe better outcomes, less stress and anxiety and a solid foundation on which to build future mutual satisfaction. There are some basic principles for establishing effective and honest communication in a healthcare setting.
Patient: Ask for explanations that you can understand in plain language.
Dentist: Practice using analogies, similes and layman's terms to explain dental procedures. Be willing to draw a sketch or use other visual media during consultations and at chairside.
Patient: Practice active listening. Concentrate on the discussion at hand.
Dentist: Ask patient to summarize the discussion, consultation, etc.
Patient: Ask what alternative treatments are available.
Dentist: Be prepared to discuss alternative treatments (pros and cons)
Patient: Take notes and bring someone with you.
Dentist: Encourage patients to fully engage in understanding treatment goals.
Patient: Do some research on the dental procedure(s) recommended for you.
Dentist: Suggest sources where patients may obtain accurate information i.e., American Dental Association, American Academy of Periodontics, etc.
Other Patient/Dentist Considerations
Study after scientific study shows that the main factor in patient/dentist satisfaction comes from caring and excellent communication and genuine mutual respect between patient and provider. Other mutual considerations include:
Financial arrangements are fully understood.
Patients feel free to express dental anxiety issues in an empathetic setting.
Patients understand the need to be open and honest so that a trusting relationship can be established.
Dental staff exhibit the same interest and establishment of a solid commitment to the patient regarding nonclinical services.
If you are looking for an empathetic family oriented dental practice where patient/dentist communication comes first and you are encouraged to apply the principles in this article to establish an open and honest dentist/patient relationship, Evolve Dental care in Allentown is who you should contact at our website: http://www.evolvefamilydental.com/
Drs. Amir and Sunny Mojahed besides providing quality and affordable family dental care, believe that the patient comes first and subscribe to the principle of establishing a solid caring empathetic relationship with every patient.
“At Evolve Dental Care, LLC, we value our patient relationships, making it our priority to deliver gentle compassionate care that you deserve from a dentist in Allentown.”