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Dental communication

Dental communication – In a layman terms the act of either relaying or receiving information in a variety of situations is called Dental communication. In the process of their working, the staff working in the dental office interacts with the patients and with other staff members, handles incoming and outgoing phone calls, and schedule appointments. To work effectively and to be successful, one needs to be skillful in these types of dental communication.

The most important elements in the dental communication process are the message, the sender, the receiver, and feedback. The message is an idea or information that must be transferred from one person to another. The sender is the one who originates the message and sends it. The receiver is the one who receives the message that was sent. When the receiver responds to the message and sends some additional information back to the sender, that reply is called feedback. As a result of feedback, the original sender may revise the original idea and decide upon a different course of action. For this reason, it’s very important to have dental communication clearly and concisely to avoid a mistaken interpretation of the message.

There are four important rules for sending a message, which all the dental office staff members should remember when communicating with others:

(1) Know the receiver: As each receiver has a different background of culture and experience, a good communicator must avoid misunderstandings by adapting the speech to the listener’s needs, expectations, and ability to understand.

(2) Speak clearly and concisely: One need to speak clearly in a professional manner while dealing with patients. It may be helpful to mirror the speech-speed of the person with whom you are speaking.

(3) Present information on the receiver’s level: Most of the patients have little, if any, knowledge of dental terminology. So it is of paramount importance for the staff to take care to explain any technical terms that is used during treatment discussion.

(4) Obtain feedback: Ask questions to understand and gauge the effectiveness of your dental communication.

Verbal dental communication

The auxiliary staff in the dental office use spoken-dental communication far more than the written words. In developing people skills, conversational skills are extremely important. The staff working in Dental Office must be patient and tactful even on days when everything seems to be going wrong. A patient who’s in pain may become irritated easily and require special handling to avoid problem areas. A skillful dental communication can make the difference between a dissatisfied patient and one who understands your concern for his or her welfare. This difference makes a big change in the attitude of the patient.

Non-verbal dental communication

The messages sent back and forth between the speaker and the listener through body language, though of significant importance, are often overlooked in the dental communication process. Body language consists of non-verbal symbols, emotions, or other uses of the body that convey a non-spoken message.

It is important to know the basic components of body language, so that one can understand the meaning of non-verbal signals, which in turn makes him or her more effective in work in the dental office. It is important to interpret the actual message being sent by the patient. His or her body language is more likely to give the true picture than the actual words being used. The tone of the voice, eye contact, body posture, gestures and facial expression also pay an important role in effective dental communication.

The most obvious positive facial expression is a smile. Be quick to smile when greeting patients. A sincere smile can go a long way toward relieving anxiety of the visiting patient. But be careful not to force a smile. One should not allow the patient to feel that you are faking your hospitality. Be especially careful to smile only at appropriate moments.

Good Body Language for the Staff of Dental Office

• Face the patient and hold your gaze steady.

• Hold your arms at your sides or gently folded.

• Stand straight with legs upright or sit erect with legs together or gently crossed.

• Keep posture erect but not rigid.

• Stay approximately one arm’s length away from the patient.

• Always wear professional attire.

• Keep a relaxed, pleasant facial expression or match the expression of the patient.

• Speak in a moderate and clear vocal tone.

Developing Positive Relationships with Patients

To develop a healthy relation with the patients, the dental office staff should posses the positive personality traits, which make it easier to form positive connections. Every staff member must have patience, tact, kindness, courtesy, and empathy.

For a person who works with many different types of people, patience is probably the most important skill to possess. Patients may be reluctant or embarrassed to discuss their fear of visiting the dentist. All the professionals working in the dental office should be capable to make these people more comfortable and need to gently encourage them. Be sure, to explain the dental procedures to them so that they all know what to expect. This will help them to cope with their fear.

Tact means doing and saying the right things at the right time. If you are tactful, you maintain good relations with the patients and avoid offense. Often it is not what is said that creates the problem, but how it is said.

Kindness means being helpful, compassionate, and friendly. Remember that you are on the patient’s side. Remember that patients coming into a dentist’s office may be in pain or full of dread at the prospect of having a filling or other work done. Be sensitive to their feelings and help them to understand their feelings. Your kindness towards these patients can put them in a more relaxed frame of mind.

Courtesy means putting the needs of other people before your own. It means cooperating, sharing, and giving. You should deal with all patients on a polite, professional, and impartial basis.

Empathy means being able to feel and understand what the other person is feeling. When you give the patient empathetic feedback, you let the patient know that you fully understand his or her concerns.

Resolution of Conflicts

There are many types of conflict and several situations, which one should be familiar with, in order to successfully handle interpersonal relationships with other staff members and patients. The various methods or techniques by which the conflict can be avoided or resolved, are as follows:

1.       dental communication to resolve contention.

2.       Avoiding condemnation.

3.      Analysis and organization to end confusion.

4.       Sticking to the facts to resolve confrontation.

5.       Courtesy and consideration for others.

6.       dental communication.

7.       The skill of conciliation.

8.       Cooperation.

9.       Monitoring of Patients’ Fears

For many of the patients, a visit to the dentist’s office is a very scary experience. Some people will make all sorts of excuses to put off the visit even if they realize it’s unwise to do so.

Assess patient behavior: The dentist, hygienist, the dental assistant, and the receptionist should all be able to identify the fearful patient. Patient’s action as well as his words can help to determine whether the patient has fears, which are unexpressed. Dental communication makes the handling of the patient, comparatively easier, in order to allay his or her fears.

Fear responses: The patient may appear very nervous and be unable to make eye contact with you as you greet him or her. This will give an indication that one should speak in a very friendly manner and try to put the patient at ease.

Managing a dental fear: The best way to relax the patient and help dispose of the fear is through information and proper dental communication. While preparing for the dental procedure, the auxiliary dental staff need to talk with the patient, in a relaxed manner about the procedure. After that the dentist can go into more detail when he or she comes in to see the patient. All these things develop trust and help the patient to relax during the process.

Effective Telephone Communication in Dental Office

Since the telephone is the main line of dental communication between the dental office and the patients, anyone who answers the phone or makes calls must develop a pleasing telephone personality.

Phone behavior is an important part of public relations in any office. A truly pleasing telephone personality always pleases fellow employees and the patients. Telephone courtesy and interest in the patient are important parts of keeping patients happy with the dental practice.

Here are some things that one should be sure to do, while receiving and making calls in the dental office:

(1) Answer promptly: Make sure that there is always someone there to answer the telephone. Try to answer by the second ring and avoid letting it ring more than three times.

(2) Identify yourself: After greeting the person on the other side of the phone, immediately give the names of the dentist’s clinic.

(3) Speak pleasantly: Speak naturally in a relaxed, low pitch and remember to smile so that your friendly personality comes through in your voice.

(4) Be courteous: Always use polite language—please, thank you, pardon me—and give your caller your full attention.

(5) Show interest in the caller and their problems.

(6) Explain interruptions in dental communication: If you must leave the telephone to get information or put the caller on hold to answer another line, explain why and give the caller a chance to respond. Be considerate of the patient’s time as well as your own. And always thank a caller for waiting

About Dr. Muna

Dr. Muna Taqi is a Dental surgeon from India who has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Oral & Maxillofacial surgery, Endodontics, & Pedodontics. She has worked in multinational medical corporates in Middle East and is also a consultant dental surgeon for many. She has authored many articles for medical journals & websites and is a consultant dental expert for Healthdrip.

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