Good dentistry is not just about the level and choice of treatment, or even about the professional competency of the dentist. It is about the patient’s perspective.
Dentists may have an extensive knowledge of the latest dental equipment and furniture, along with expertise in the details of techniques and practices, but how does this translate into the patient’s experience?
Whatever degree of technical know-how and expertise a dentist is applying will only matter to the patient if they have both a satisfactory experience.
Therefore, patient relationships matter, and dentists can do much to develop these, from how they communicate, to the treatment environment they provide.
Pain, the Patient and Good Dentistry
Pain is a crucial parameter in how a patient decides what is or is not good dentistry.
The amount of pain a patient feels is going to contribute significantly to how they judge a dentist’s abilities, even if the outcome is good.
Pain is a critical obstacle in preventing patients from going to the dentist. The same applies to elective treatments such as cosmetic dentistry – pain may well be a deciding factor.
Therefore, delivering pain-free dentistry is something that dentists should be looking to do if they are going to maintain patient retention rates and attract new patients.
This is not just about technique – delivering injections that are as close to pain-free as is possible, for instance – but also about reading body language.
Patients require reassurance. They want to feel at ease, and as comfortable as possible.
Dentists can do much to make this happen simply by responding to body language and allaying patients’ concerns.
It is also about managing expectations. If there is going to be some discomfort, the dentist must find ways of letting the patient anticipate this without, obviously, contributing to their anxiety.
The Role of the Modern Dental Surgery
In this context, the environment the patients find themselves in matters.
For example, a total surgery fit out can offer a cohesiveness to the whole patient experience, because all the parts come together to provide a thoroughly joined-up approach to patient treatment and care.
The point is that this involves both substance and style.
Patients have raised expectations as dental treatments have become more efficient and technologically refined. Meeting these expectations requires a combination of state-of-the-art equipment and dental furniture with an approach that always includes the patient’s perspective.
This extends to communication and communication tools. Modern digital imaging equipment can do much to bridge any communication gap, offering dentists the means to help patients visualise outcomes.
Patients measure competency in human terms such as friendliness and approachability, but also in the perceived seamlessness of the treatment they receive.
Better technology has meant a more streamlined but also more comfortable treatment experience for patients.
Being a good, clinically adept dentist may not be enough to retain and attract patients.
“Dentists need to develop a chairside manner that reassures patients. If they combine this with the right kind of technology at their disposal, they can significantly boost their retention rates while attracting new patients. The human and technological elements must fit together perfectly to create, in the patient’s experience, good dentistry.”
Pete Higson, RPA Dental