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J’aime les dents
This week, our man from Anfield considers the importance of rapport with patients.
Right. I must open this article with an admission. I am scared of the dentist. I know… For a man who is in his final year of dental school, this sounds ridiculous. Now that you have all stitched your sides back together after my pathetic confession, there's more: I wasn't scared of the dentist until I started dental school. Apart from enjoying making myself look silly and giving all of you lovely readers a chuckle, why on Earth would I admit to this?
There's a good reason. I believe that my fear of the dentist helps me to deal with nervous patients - to a massive extent. Why? That's a very good question. When I greet someone in the waiting room and they're sat there - fidgeting, clammy, looking uneasy, unsure about what they're about to be put through - I know exactly how they feel.
In instances like this - and it has happened several times, I hasten to add - I’ve been able to build such a connection and profound rapport with patients that they have refused to be treated in future by anyone but myself. Not only is that great for my own confidence but, much more importantly, it means that what was perceived by the patient as something terribly unpleasant has actually turned out to be a humorous, relaxing, laid-back experience: a friendly Scouser having a quick look at their toothy pegs, but also spending some time getting to know them as a person to whom those teeth happen to be attached and putting them at ease.
Admittedly there's been a fair bit of blowing my own trumpet in this article, but the purpose is to show that it's one thing being a brilliant diagnostician, or even an adept surgeon, but without your patients feeling like they can trust, respect and, hopefully, like you, your practicing life will not be enriched in the way it should be. The beauty of dentistry is that we occupy a privileged position that allows us to meet new people every day and hear their 'story’, so I would strongly recommend spending some time getting to know your patients, as I'm sure you'll enjoy what you do a lot more.
Evidence suggests that building rapport with patients is likely to increase compliance when you are trying to elicit behavioural change; we humans, whether we like to admit it or not, are always searching for the approval of our peers and those close to us, so wouldn't it be great to be the dentist whose patients don't want to let them down?
'Patients don't care how much you know until they know how much you care’
J’aime les dents
This week, our man from Anfield asks, ‘how involved are you?’
With the best will in the world, certain people struggle to look after their teeth. For some, it is lack of motivation. Others consider brushing their teeth to be at the bottom of a very long list of priorities, below walking the dog and watching the grass grow. However, most people are victims of being misinformed. I defy any dental student to claim they haven't changed their own oral hygiene regime even slightly while at dental school, even if it's just the direction in which they move their toothbrush or switching to alcohol-free mouthwash. Equally, it seems that the public are fed a lot of lies, as far as we tooth enthusiasts are concerned.
Having a clean mouth is boss. Do you know why that is? No plaque equals no decay. No plaque equals no gum disease. No volatile sulphur compounds equals no bad breath; hence a higher chance of a bit of club necking in Guy's Bar after clinics on a Friday.
It is our job, as dental professionals, to ensure that our patients are exposed to best practice when training them to look after their own oral and dental health. The number of times I've faced raised eyebrows when advising patients not to use mouthwash after brushing, for example, really does make you think. Even when people set out with the best intentions, they sometimes are doing the exact opposite of what we'd like them to do! Of course this isn't too much of a problem, as we are educators and we shall set all of our patients on the path to oral health perfection!
The main topic of conversation is therefore a question of how 'involved' my fellow students become when educating people about oral hygiene practices.
For me, it's an absolute necessity for the patient to bring whatever accoutrements they use to keep their mouth clean so that we can inspect their technique and then modify it appropriately. Nor am I averse to throwing a pulp tray under the patient's chin, getting them to hold a mirror in front of their face, and giving their toothy pegs a good clean with their own brush and toothpaste, there and then!
Even more important, as far as I'm concerned, is the matter of flossing. I find it pointless to use those models we find on clinic more than once; it almost seems like insulting the intelligence of the patient by pulling the model out at every visit. Instead, what I would suggest is that you throw on a pair of gloves, snap off a good length of floss, give the patient the trusty mirror once again, and you (yes, YOU) floss their teeth, before their very eyes. Why? It's certainly going to be memorable for the patient; they'll know how it feels when it's done 'correctly’; and they've then got the perfect opportunity to mimic exactly what you've just shown them.
For me, this makes the oral health education a much more enjoyable and immersive experience, with a positive effect on patient compliance.
'Only floss the ones you want to keep'
The first two major events of the Dental Society calendar have passed and succeeded in bringing the five years of dental students together. First off we had the dental society boat party. The desire to be pent up for four hours on a boat on the Thames hit sky high when the early bird tickets for the boat party sold out within 30 seconds. The fear of not being able to grasp a ticket was further shown where at the meet and greet, a queue of freshers developed, eager for a taste of the London nighttime skyline (but mostly for the bouncy castle). The evening of the Dental Society Boat Party started off with a drinks reception at the colonnade, which then proceeded to Tower Bridge, now filled with students dressed to the nines. Once aboard, the boat set off and the music started, filled with requests (something DJs usually don’t do! But DJ Shraii did! Kudos.) The rest of the evening was wonderful and ended at midnight.
The infamous pulp crawl was the next item on the agenda, and this year the word for the fancy dress was MOLAR, with each year being assigned a letter from the word so that their costume would start with that letter. The crawl started at Cargo, went onwards to Bedroom Bar, Floripa and finally Roadtrip & the work. The bars in Shoreditch that night were filled with the likes of Super Mario, a Mexican, soldiers, athletes, oompa loompas, a lettuce-man, penguins, an artist, and so many more confusing characters to see outside an establishment at night. The event was well set up by the Dental Society Committee who on the night were dressed up as Wally from Where’s Wally! They also kindly got us sorted with a free £20 Uber voucher so everyone could make it back home for a good night’s sleep before their 8.30am clinics! Overall it was a fun night, roll on next year!
Pippasha Khan, BDS1
IT IS BACK. It's that time of year we all look forward to. And we invite you to join us on our journey.
Since 1993 KCL Diwali Show has been the proud organiser of the one of the largest student run charity shows in the country. It is a show that celebrates the culture, talent and creativity of our students and has gained a reputation amongst London students for its unprecedented level of flair.
This year we have chosen to support Evelina’s Children Hospital, CAREducation and SHINE mentoring. So you can all do your bit by helping to promote and by coming to support your peers!
So right now make sure you keep Sunday 16th November 2014 free in your patient appointment filled diaries. Because even though we love increasing our number of Youtube views online, the real thing is never worth missing!
The tickets are limited so…
DMFT - Dont Miss out, Fight for those Tickets!
Hope to see you there,
General Dental Council set to raise Annual Retention Fee (full article)
Overloaded, pressurised and sluggishly-paced (no, not the lifts at Guy's every morning!): dentistry has changed remarkably over the past decade. With GDC fee hikes among various rising costs to practice, uncertainty is understandable amongst professionals and dental students alike.
Registration with the GDC is a lawful requirement for dental professionals. However, from 2015, the independent body has planned to increase their ARF from £576 to £945: a 64% rise.
Undoubtedly, this increase has been met with fierce opposition. The profession appears to have fallen out with its regulator, whilst defence organisations and even the Department of Health (who typically has little involvement with such bodies) have all queried the GDC's justification.
Allegedly these fees must meet rising operating costs incurred from Fitness to Practice hearings, with ever-growing numbers of complaints made against registrants since 2010. This, hand-in-hand with the emergent litigation culture in the British dental industry, directly affects students. Representation by defence unions is a more worthwhile investment than ever.
The BDA, our professional association, have called into question the GDC's integrity. Legal proceedings were pursued and followed by commisioning of a major accountancy firm to review the case for rising fees. The ultimate decision can be expected on 30 October 2014.
As young, ambitious dentists, these matters concern us greatly. There is an essential requirement for unity and strong advocacy amongst the profession. Here are some action points to consider:
- Greater involvement with the BDA, unions and other dental organisations will not only give you a voice, but also address your worries
- Support petitions or campaigns you feel strongly about
- Develop yourself - network and enhance your profile
- Prepare yourself for the reality of dentistry - increase your awareness of current affairs
Editor's note: on 30/10/14 the GDC elected to proceed with a 55% hike in fees, causing widespread consternation; simultaneously the BDA announced that its push for a fast-track judicial review of the decision has been successful, and shall take place before fees are due on 31/12/14.