How to Communicate with Your Dentist

There are some things your dentist won’t know about your oral health unless you literally open up and speak. However, when sitting in the dentist's chair, that can be difficult to accomplish. Studies show the majority of patients report having more fear and anxiety when the dentist expects them to answer questions while a dental instrument is in their mouth. Patients and providers both feel a hand gesture system between the patient and dentist can build lasting rapport and reduce overall anxiety.

Main Areas of Concern

When sitting in the dental chair, the main concern for patients is safety, standard of care and having a nearly painless procedure. At times, the patient needs to communicate certain concerns to the dentist. Dental staff is mainly concerned with their patients having sound confidence in their ability to care for them and thereby have trusting patients who are willing to return for other dental services.

Types of Hand Gestures

Hand signals are quickly recognizable and allow the dentist to make an immediate response to the patient’s situation. Some hand gestures are simple in nature. Patients can simply use a thumbs-up sign to show they are comfortable, and that the staff can continue with treatment. A thumbs-down gesture can express discomfort but is vague for most providers and doesn’t offer any telling information. Clearer hand gestures may include the patient holding up a full-stop hand to indicate there is something wrong and the dentist needs to stop. A full fist indicates pain. If something hurts a little, the patient can hold up the index finger and thumb and open the fingers wide to indicate a lot of pain or put them closer together to indicate a little pain.

For more information about ways to communicate with your dentist to build rapport or to schedule an appointment with a qualified dental hygienist, contact us.