Successful communication is fundamental to good clinical practice, allowing people to inform, be informed and to exchange information effectively. This is crucial to understanding the patient’s reason for attendance, their medical history, to explain treatment needs, gain consent and provide appropriate preventative advice.
There are three main elements of communication: words, tone of voice and body language. Verbal interaction accounts for just 7% of transmission, while tone of voice is estimated to convey 33% and non-verbal elements 60%2. Practitioners must provide patients with clear, jargon-free messages, explaining problems and procedures effectively and precisely. Understanding the issue and treatment protocol can enhance compliance, as well as minimise the risk of complaints2.
Research has shown that there is often a substantial gap between patients’ expectations and dentists’ understanding of those expectations. It is suggested that dentists sometimes believe they know what patients should want, rather than finding out what they do want. According to one survey, problems with dissatisfaction were attributed to issues regarding the information patients receive and the ‘responsiveness’ of the practitioner. In another, individuals complained of being excluded from treatment decision-making. Bad experiences with previous dentists and perceptions based on media reports of dental malpractice can also contribute to a patient’s lack of trust3.
Clear and concise communication is therefore crucial to avoid any discrepancies or misunderstandings in the information exchange. This is particularly true with nervous patients, as anxiety can impact on the complex process of communication, making it more difficult to hear, retain and comprehend information. Utilising modern technology to provide images of the problem can help to enhance communication and relay messages to patients. It is also beneficial to provide written material or reports that can be taken away and read at home.
The CS 3500 intraoral scanner from Carestream Dental takes communication to a whole new level. Available as a stand-alone solution, or as part of the integrated CS Solutions CAD/CAM restoration portfolio, the CS 3500 provides practitioners with precise true colour 2D and 3D digital impressions. From realistic digital models to printable reports, the CS 3500 teamed with CS Model software makes it easy to communicate and share information with patients.
Relaying information clearly and effectively enhances understanding, treatment adherence and the overall patient experience. Utilising the latest in innovative technology helps make patients feel more involved in their treatment and provides an effective means to convey information, even when patients are suffering from dental anxiety.
For more information please contact Carestream Dental on
0800 169 9692 or visit www.carestreamdental.co.uk
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 Jones, L. M., & Huggins, T. J. (2014). Empathy in the dentist-patient relationship: review and application. The New Zealand Dental Journal, 110 (3), 98-104.
 Dougall, A., & Fiske, J. (2008). Access to special care dentistry, part 2. Communication. British Dental Journal, 205, 11-21.
 Apelian, N., et al. (2014). Humanizing clinical dentistry through a person-centred model. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 1 (2): 30-50.
 Karydis, A., et al. (2001). Expectations and perceptions of Greek patients regarding the quality of dental health care. International Journal of Quality Health Care, 13 (5), 409-416.
 Redford, M., & Gift, H. C. (1997). Dentist-patient interactions in treatment decision-making: a qualitative study. Journal of Dental Education, 61 (1), 16-21.