When education is diverse, patient conversation will improve


  Posted by: Dental Design      16th March 2023

For all healthcare professionals, including those who work in dentistry, this has been an incredibly tough time, perhaps one of the most challenging that many of us can remember. The pressures on all areas of the health service, particularly during a very cold winter, have been huge.

People are worried about lots of things at the moment, including their health and staying well. At the end of 2022, parents were being warned to look out for signs of group A streptococcus (commonly referred to as strep A or scarlet fever), after several children lost their lives following its resurgence in the UK and Europe. Most individuals infected with strep A will make a full recovery, and in most cases it can be successfully managed with a course of antibiotics. But fear, combined with ‘not wanting to bother’ a system under stress, is a terrible combination.

In the area of oral health, there has been a growing awareness about noticing unusual symptoms, or anything new. We have all seen the headlines about oral cancer rates, and how they have reached a record high.[1] If these figures are alarming to us, imagine how frightened someone would be if they felt a lump on their tongue, or have an ulcer that isn’t going away. Do they contact their practice and tell them it’s an emergency? Or, should they wait and see if it eventually clears up by itself?

Dental professionals want people to talk to them about anything and everything. Oral health and general health are inexorably linked, but there are a range of topics that could come up, on a daily basis, that patients might not think can be discussed at the dentist. Vaping, diet, why they haven’t been prescribed antibiotics… perhaps one of the biggest fallouts from the Covid years is how vulnerable many now feel. They want reassurance, kindness, empathy and to know that no concern is too small, or too ‘irrelevant’ to mention. Dental professionals can empower people to take control of their health, by making improvements and practising preventive behaviours. Therefore, we must be confident that when they ask us about all sorts of things, we can respond in a knowledgeable way.

Quality learning for deeper knowledge

It is crucial that dental professionals are educated about a range of health issues, to take care of all patients comprehensively. Quality learning will deepen your insight, and may spark an interest to explore an area in greater depth. A really efficient way of learning is to attend dental events that offer a broad programme of education, giving you access to experts in a wide range of fields. The most relevant events will have curated their programme to reflect what actually gets talked about, in practices across the UK. Coming together at industry events isn’t just about connecting with specialists and learning from renowned speakers, it is about engaging with fellow professionals, to share problems and solutions.

The British Dental Conference & Dentistry Show (BDCDS) is always proud to deliver educational content that is diverse, yet focused on what is important to dental teams and their patients. Last year, sessions covered everything from implant planning to practice management/business skills and mental health. In 2023, expect a programme no less rich and varied. Those who attend will be able to hear over 200 experts and pioneers present on a range of topics, across 13 lecture theatres, to deepen their knowledge acquisition. With 100 hours of verifiable eCPD up for grabs, BDCDS 2023 can help with career development, as well as improving your confidence in patient conversations. There will be over 400 stands at the thriving trade exhibition too, if you need another reason to go!

To raise levels of public health, there needs to be a positive relationship between patient and provider. All dental professionals will know how good outcomes require good rapport between the two, based on trust and communication. Patients need to know that dental teams have a greater depth of knowledge and expertise than just teeth! They want to care for people holistically, and that means helping them understand the range of issues that are impacted by, and relevant to, the maintenance of oral health.

To do more for your patients, and have more productive and effective conversations with them, education is the key. Being able to share knowledge promotes more engagement which, in turn, will lead to loyalty. Ultimately, when you improve your patient conversations, you can improve the health of your community.

The British Dental Conference & Dentistry Show 2023 will be held on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th May at NEC Birmingham, co-located with Dental Technology Showcase (DTS). 

For more information, visit birmingham.dentistryshow.co.uk or email dentistry@closerstillmedia.com

[1] Oral Health Foundation. The State of Mouth Cancer Report 2022. Link: https://www.dentalhealth.org/thestateofmouthcancer(accessed December 2022).

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