It’s good to talk… learn how to have better patient conversations at BDCDS 2023

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  Posted by: Dental Design      3rd February 2023

Dental shows are an excellent way to discuss the wide range of topics that come up in patient conversations. Being able to link the discussions you are having, with those that are going on in other practice communities, can be enlightening and instructive.

From the start of your career, you will have learned that patients, their problems and points of view are often the most challenging part of the job. Some people are natural communicators, but for others, it’s a core skill that gets honed over time.

Knowing how to talk and listen is key to successful outcomes, as it enables you to create a complete picture of what everyone wants and needs. So, when someone is resistant to advice, it can be hard to know what to do next. Of course, no one expects patients to follow the same script, but when they don’t want to engage at all, it can leave you feeling like you aren’t delivering quality care.

Sharing these experiences with professionals from practices of all size and specialty, can help you trouble-shoot and find common threads. Industry events provide the ideal opportunity to find out what strategies others use to improve engagement. You’ll learn what worked – and what didn’t ­­– when they seemed to be getting nowhere with someone who just needed to make small changes to see a dramatic improvement in their oral health.

Maybe another practice optimised communication when they modified the structure of the team, bringing in a patient coordinator for example, or after they made appointment times longer. Another modern approach that gets discussed at dental events is skill-mix, allowing the dental nurse, dental hygienist and/or dental therapist to lead on preventive maintenance.

Social media still seems like minefield to many in dentistry, with the number-one concern being, is it worth my time and effort? Some practices embrace it as a great way to show their ‘human’ side, as well as being an efficient platform to support oral health education. If you are a family practice, finding ways to engage with parents of young children will be a priority, with 9 in 10 hospital admissions for 0 to five-year-olds being due to preventable tooth decay.[i] Figures suggest parents routinely use social media like Facebook as an information source, for reasons including not wanting to bother their GP, or they can’t get an appointment at a time that suits.[ii] Perhaps patients don’t know that your knowledge goes beyond toothache, and that they can talk to you about all sorts of issues that are bothering them. This can get the ball rolling and, if they need help from someone with more specialist expertise, you can point them in the right direction.

When you get together with other dental teams you are likely to discover their patients also want to talk about topics other than how often they clean their teeth. Vaping, do tea and coffee really cause staining, whether it’s worth going abroad for veneers… these are conversations that DCPs report keep coming up and they are all part of the essential bigger picture. The successful delivery of tailored, quality care starts with really knowing the person you are looking after, so you can build a relationship and trust between you.

Industry events can enable you to remember and truly appreciate how important you are, for helping people to live healthier and happier lives. This is the best reason to share the wins and successes, as well as the things that didn’t work so well.

The British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show (BDCDS), has always delivered an education programme focusing on the issues that are actually talked by teams and their patients all across the UK. At BDCDS 2022, how to optimise communication was a key theme, and next year’s event, now registering for May 2023, will continue the discussion. When we stop to pause, and think about what people really want – and need – to talk about, this can help us to adapt our service, so it’s more focused and successful at raising levels of oral health.

One of the most valuable functions of industry events is to see what’s going on in other practices. When life is so busy, the opportunity to look outside your own community is hard, sometimes impossible. Whatever your role, and whether your practice is big or small, you will be united by a common goal: to care for people in the very best way. At BDCDS 2023 you can share ideas for improving patient engagement and communication, and find solutions that could have a positive and lasting impact on your service delivery.


The British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2023 will be held on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 May, NEC Birmingham, co-located with DTS.

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[i] Child Oral Health: Applying All Our Health., updated 8 March 2022. Link: (accessed October 2022).

[ii] Frey E, Bonfiglioli C, Brunner M, Frawley J. Parents’ Use of Social Media as a Health Information Source for Their Children: A Scoping Review. Acad Pediatr. 2022 May-Jun;22 (4):526-539. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2021.12.006. Epub 2021 Dec 11. PMID: 34906742.

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