For some patients, a dental office can be intimidating, whether due to experiences such as dental anxiety or just a lack of awareness of how dentists operate. For dentists, communication is an essential aspect of establishing a rapport between them and the patient and can help talk to their patient about dental issues. Establishing ways for patients to communicate with their dentists can help ensure that they understand the information they’re receiving and that they’re getting the best care possible. But how can dentists help patients with their communication skills? Here’s what studies say about the topic and what we recommend for patients.
How The Dentist-Patient Relationship Matters
Having healthy oral health often comes with patients understanding what their dental health means for them. When handling a dental consultation, health advice often presented to them can be forgotten or agreed upon without genuinely understanding the information presented. For dentists, this can present a considerable problem when establishing good oral hygiene practices for patients and can lead to poorer dentist-patient relationships. Studies such as those found in the American Public Health Association correlate with a lack of health literacy.
According to the study, health literacy refers to the understanding patients have when presented with their health. Through a path model that established telephone surveys for over 36 rural areas throughout northern Florida, the study correlated high amounts of health literacy with better self-rated oral health. Higher levels of health literacy resulted in better patient-dentist communication. By arguing the importance of health literacy, communication steps should be improved on both ends of the spectrum when handling oral health.
How to Speak To Your Dentist
So, what does health literacy have to do with your dental appointment? Health literacy improves your dental experience. Taking the time to understand what your dentist tells you is vital to receiving better oral healthcare. Finding ways to improve your communication skills with your dentist can overall help you have a healthier smile all around. Here’s what we advise for patients seeking better oral health:
- When Presented With Information, Ask: Asking about why your teeth have developed in a certain way or why you may be experiencing that infection in your gums is essential because it can help relieve fear and give you the information needed to make proactive choices.
- Talk About Your History: Your medical history can present deep insights for your dentist, as they can look at the potential causes that may have led to your current oral health situation.
- Encourage Your Dentist to Explain: If you’re beginning to experience fear related to your procedures, ask your dentist to explain their procedures. By encouraging a show and tell method, they can proactively give you a better experience with your appointment.
- Be Curious About Your Health: Being a proactive health member significantly improves how much information you retain in appointments and helps you control how you handle your health.
These pieces of advice we hope can help you build a trust-filled, long-lasting relationship between you and your dentist because communication is vital for you and your health.