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    How do you communicate with your dentist?

    Good dental health doesn’t just depend on how often you brush and floss your teeth or on the technical skill of your dentist. It also depends on how well you and your dentist communicate with each other, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing education.
    By improving your ability to communicate with your dentist and by recognizing ways to help your dentist improve communication with you, you’ll go a long way toward improving your oral health.

    “The problem with patients communicating with us is that sometimes we don’t understand exactly what they’re asking for,” says Barbara Rich, DDS, FAGD, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. “By the same token, we may be using terms that the patient doesn’t understand, and the patient may need to ask for further clarification.”

    People generally have three approaches to communicating, according to an article published recently in General Dentistry, the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry. Those communication approaches are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

    If you can determine what mode of communication works best for you, you may be able to provide clues to your dentist for improving his or her communication with you.

    Communication Approach
    How You Process Information
    Some Common Phrases You Might Use
    Your Dental Communication Advice
    Visually DominantBy forming pictures,
    visualizing procedures using phrases that help paint pictures. You try
    to understand the dentist by understanding the verbal pictures the
    dentist paints.
    “I see what you
    “I can visualize that”
    “Shed some light on”
    “Take a look at”
    “Crystal clear”
    “Sight for sore eyes”
    Ask the dentist for an
    intraoral camera to demonstrate a condition in the mouth. Ask the
    dentist to show an illustration or draw a diagram to emphasize the main
    Auditory DominantBy using sounds and patterns
    to think and communicate. Pictures are translated into word patterns.
    You may ask more questions and expect more accurate and detailed
    “I hear you”
    “That rings true”
    “Sounds good”
    “Loud and clear”
    “Voice my concerns”
    “Same wavelength”
    Ask your dentist for detailed
    answers to your questions, because answers to you are very important.
    Ask the dentist to slowly explain concepts so you can fully understand
    Kinesthetic (Sensation or
    Feelings) Dominant
    By thinking in terms of
    sensation or feelings. You translate thoughts into patterns of feelings
    or sensation, and assign a high value to feeling when communicating.
    “Come to grips with”
    “Get a handle on it”
    “Pain in the neck”
    “Get the drift”
    “Tough as nails”
    “Hard as a rock”
    You’ll need time to develop
    feelings about the dentist, your surroundings, and the proposed
    procedure. You won’t do well with pictures or long explanations. Ask the
    dentist for a model of teeth so you can feel it with your hands.
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