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Speaking With a Dentist: Things to Ask, Tools to Use

A dental office visit can be intimidating for some patients, especially when you’re meeting a dentist for the first time. But communicating with a dentist is the key to building trust and getting the best in dental care. Effective communication helps patients understand their dental treatment options, eases dental anxiety, and provides a better outcome for cosmetic dentistry work. A dentist’s training includes not only clinical skills, but patient education and communication as well. And with excellent communication between you and your dentist, your dental appointments should be more comfortable.

Dental Terminology

Dentists do use a whole different language! Just like doctors, dentists use medical terminology to describe your teeth, dental conditions and procedures. However, most dentists will “dumb down” their dental terminology for those of us who don’t have access to a medical dictionary.

If your dentist doesn’t speak in layman’s terms, ask him or her to repeat the diagnosis or prescribed treatment in a way you can comprehend. Professional dentists want you to know what’s going on with your teeth so you can take the appropriate steps to strengthen your dental health. They may even appreciate your feedback, which can help them improve their practice skills!

Want to Talk About It?

Communicating with a dentist is also the patient’s responsibility. It’s extremely important that you respond to your dentist’s questions honestly and to the best of your ability to help prevent a misdiagnosis. Not telling your dentist about that tooth pain because you don’t want a root canal is not going to make your dental problems go away. If you’re a fearful patient, communicating with a dentist may not be easy for you — but once you actually get to the dental office, you’re halfway there. A caring, gentle dentist will listen to your fears and do everything in his or her power to make you comfortable during your appointment.

Dental offices will ask you to detail your medical history during your first appointment. Take the time to describe your medical conditions and prescription medications, and update them with any changes. Although you may feel embarrassed, your dentist is a medical professional who requires your history in order to avoid complications or drug interactions, and your information will be kept confidential. Remember, dentists aren’t there to chide or judge you — their main concern is your health. If you aren’t comfortable with the way your dentist speaks to you, then it may be time to find a new dentist!

Communicating with a dentist is also helpful when it comes to children and patients with special needs. Although there’s no reason for anyone to fear the dentist, the sights and sounds of the dental office can be a strange experience for those who don’t understand the environment. Combining a friendly approach with modern dental practices will ease children’s fears and set them up for a lifetime of dental health.

The Age of Information Technology

There are several ways dental technology has made communicating with a dentist even easier. Many dentists offer websites so you can view their services. Once a relationship has been established, your dentist may be available by e-mail to answer your questions or even schedule appointments! During your visit, the dentist also uses technology to make it easier to communicate. X-rays, intraoral cameras and dental computer imaging all provide a visual for the patient to better understand a diagnosis.

Communicating with a dentist can make for a worry-free dental appointment! And excellent communication between you and your dentist will build a trusting relationship for years to come. Actually, when you think about it, a dentist really can’t be successful without communication skills. So if you’re worried about communicating with the dentist, you can rest easy. Once you talk it out, you’ll feel a whole lot better!

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