We’re opening up – how different will dentistry really look?

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  Posted by: The Probe      21st June 2020

With practices preparing to reopen, there is much talk about the “new normal”. We will certainly see lots of elements of different and “new”, particularly with how some practical things will need to be done. What won’t be new, but instead a continuation, is every great dentist’s commitment to delivering excellence.

For patients who are returning, they have to feel 100% confident that they will be safe. Every practice will be augmenting its infection control measures, improving those in place long before the Covid-19 outbreak. The difference now is that people are acutely aware of their safety when they would have taken it for granted in the past. Patient confidence will depend almost entirely on how much trust they have in you and your practice. Reassure them that their safety has always been a priority, but empathise with their current concerns. Tell them how every effort will be made to keep them safe, from the minute they step inside until the second they leave.

Trust is such a touchstone in modern dentistry. How to build it? Good communication as part of methodical treatment planning is a key vehicle for patient trust. A dentist who is meticulous in their planning will have patients who are well-informed and understand the purpose of their treatment, as well as the potential consequences of not going ahead. They will know the alternatives and all their options, and what processes will be used – they’ll understand what safety measures will be in place at every stage of their treatment too. They’ll also know what they need to do to mitigate the risks of failure, to keep the end result stable, as well as looking beautiful for years to come. Ultimately, a dentist who is methodical in their planning will have better quality relationships with their patients, based on trust, and they’ll see more successful treatment outcomes.

Dentists who have always put considerable effort into treatment planning, to establish trust and achieve valid consent, will find it considerably easier to get the new reassurances about patient safety across. Trust and consent are central to a high-value dental experience – if your patients are electing to come for treatment, they deserve excellence at every level. The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) has long led the way here, having published a set of protocols a couple of years ago, BACD Cosmetic Consultation Protocols and Consent Forms. These give a structure for good, well-prepared cosmetic dental practice and a template that clinicians can tailor to every patient. The protocols also address issues that are going to be central to post-Covid dentistry, such as thorough pre-assessment and giving the right amount of time to every patient. Planning protocols are the building blocks for success; they validate consent and encourage compliance to instruction, post treatment. They reduce failure, as well as complaints; the BACD’s guidelines were certainly forward-thinking.

So, the “new” normal for great, patient-focused dentistry is really what it has always been: the willingness to adapt and to learn, to embrace the latest technology and techniques to elevate daily practice and to do everything better. Dentistry is always constantly evolving and challenging; post-lockdown, we are just facing the latest challenges. Months away from practice has also highlighted the importance of the wider dental community; collaboration and working together will help keep service delivery high, going forward. If you have not been yet been part of a professional academy, now could be a great time to join. Strength in numbers should never be underestimated and support of your dental colleagues across the UK will keep you going, should the going ever get tough. Again, dentists, plus students and technicians who share a commitment to excellence should look to the BACD. A world-leading authority on ethical cosmetic dentistry, its positive, vibrant community, along with access to unparalleled educational opportunities, have always been reasons to join. The BACD also recently launched an online learning portal, to help its members keep up-to-date virtually. This is also in the spirit of how it’s going to be even more important than even to keep on pushing, adapting, thinking ahead and embracing any new ways of working.

Patients need to feel confident returning to the practice because dentists need to get back to improving the UK’s oral health. Good dentistry can be life-changing, dramatically improving an individual’s physical as well as mental wellbeing. Now is the time to be methodical in your planning, to reassure patients about safety, gain valid consent and get wonderful, stable results. As well as routine preventive-maintenance, cosmetic dentistry, treatments like implant therapy and short-term orthodontics will improve function as well as form. Aspiring for excellence will be fundamental to success in the months and even years ahead. Let the changing times inspire you to elevate your practice and to learning, keep evolving and to keep doing better.

 

If you are dentist and would like to order a copy of the BACD’s Cosmetic Consultation Protocols and Consent Forms, and for further enquiries about membership of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, visit www.bacd.com


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