Four Ways To Be Understood By Your Dentist

What do you want from your relationship with your dentist? Oftentimes, this question is answered when there is a dental problem or emergency requiring immediate attention. There is a different approach to your relationship with your dentist that relates to your own needs and dental health. This approach is designed to help you create the kind of experiences you want with your dentist.

You have a choice about this relationship and how it can support and assist you in your life. It begins with the simple question stated at the beginning of this article: What do you want from your relationship with your dentist?

The answer to this question can take many forms. For some people it may mean having a lot of information about their dental health and future. They seek facts to know they are making good, informed decisions. Others may want a friendly relationship in which openness and communication are valued. They want information but, more importantly, they want to know they are important to the dentist and the dental team. Some individuals want minimal information and discussion -- just the facts and the solutions to take care of any problem.

We all have different wants in our relationships with health professionals such as dentists. Here are four tips to assist you in deciding what you want in your relationship with your dentist:

  • Do you want a lot of detailed information about actual problems or potential problems or do you prefer a quick summary of data with recommendations about what to do?
  • Do you like to make quick decisions or do you prefer to think about things before you act?
  • Do you like to talk about what is happening or do you prefer to have your dentist just tell you what is going on?
  • Do you want the dentist to describe a problem situation and solution with pictures so you can see what it happening or do you prefer to go on gut feeling?

Each person looks for different things in their relationships. It is your responsibility to determine what you want and look for that in the relationship with your dentist. The answers to the questions above will tell you something about this.

The next step is communicating what you want so that you are understood. Only you know when someone else understands you. Here are four tips to assist you in this communication process:

  • Tell your dentist that you have some ideas about how he or she can assist you with your dental health.
  • Ask when it would be a good time to discuss your needs and desires for your dental care and relationship with your dentist.
  • Communicate what you want and how that will help you.
  • If you had a negative experience in the past with another dental professional, always discuss what happened. Past hurts or disappointments have a way of negatively influencing present situations that are similar in nature.

Communicating what you want is important to your dentist for it is the best way for him or her to plan for the optimal dental health for you.

By Brian DesRoches, PhD

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