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.
How You Process Information
Some Common Phrases You Might Use
Your Dental Communication Advice
|By forming pictures,
visualizing procedures using phrases that help paint pictures. You try
to understand the dentist by understanding the verbal pictures the
|“I see what you
“I can visualize that”
“Shed some light on”
“Take a look at”
“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
|By 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”
“Loud and clear”
“Voice my concerns”
|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
|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.