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.
For those who are Visually Dominant
By forming pictures, visualizing procedures using phrases that help paint pictures. You try to understand the dentist by understanding the verbal pictures the dentist paints.
Some phrases you might use: "I see what you mean" "I can visualize that" "Shed some light on" "Take a look at" "Crystal clear" "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 points.
For those who are Auditory Dominant
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 answers.
Some phrases you might use: "I hear you" "That rings true" "Sounds good" "Loud and clear" "Voice my concerns" "Same wavelength"
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 them.
For those who are Kinesthetic (Sensation or Feelings) Dominant
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.
Some phrases you might use: "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.