Valleydale Dental

Better Communication is Key to Overall Oral Health

Birmingham AL dentistWe all know how hard it is to talk when there’s dental equipment in our mouths. In spite of that, dentists still try to talk to you during procedures. Why is that?

Nobody knows. But according to one recent study: better communication between you and your dentist may be the secret key to good dental health.

University of Florida Health Researchers Trace Dental Problems to Poor Communication

The study comes out of the University of Florida’s Health Department. UF Health researchers identified a number of indicators that make someone at risk for poor oral health. Those risk factors include:

-Race

-Gender

-Education

-Financial Status

-Access to dental Care

-Lack of Health Literacy

The first five entries on that list have been well known for a long period of time. It’s the last item on the list that is causing some surprises across the dental industry: lack of health literacy.

The research involved using a complex statistical model to evaluate patient-dentist communication in order to gain insight into the role that health literacy plays in overall dental health.

The study was led by assistant professor Yi Guo, Ph.D., who weighed in with the following statement:

“Oral health is extremely important as it has been linked with major health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. Our goal is to identify factors that could potentially help promote better oral health in our rural communities.”

The study focused on rural populations, where people typically depend on their dentist to be their first line of defense against gum disease.

How Dentists Can Improve Their Communication

Yi Guo did more than just identify “lack of health literacy” as a risk factor; the team also made concrete suggestions that should help dentists more easily communicate with their patients. Those suggestions include:

-Shifting away from using technical language

-Rewriting current oral health education materials to reflect a sixth grade reading level

-Provide educational materials to all patients for future reference

-Provide “navigators or guides” in dental clinics to assist patients by helping them fill out forms, obtain information, understand dental advice, and follow through with suggestions

By adopting these basic techniques, dental clinics across the country can improve the quality of their dental services while offering better one-on-one communication with patients.

Visit a dental clinic where one-on-one communication isn’t just a goal, it’s a promise. Family dentist in Birmingham Dr. Gentry Gonzalez offers honest, down-to-earth dental communication with patients throughout the Birmingham area. Call today to make an appointment at 205-991-7797!

Source: American Journal of Public Health