But a few simple steps can help dentists drastically improve their communication with their aging patients, according to a new study by the Journal of the American Dental Association.
As the population of adults 65 years or older continues to grow, the study says that dental care providers will more likely be treating older patients and may face unique communication barriers, such as sensory decline, lack of health literacy and the overall aging process.
The researchers said that these barriers, along with possible stereotyping on the part of the dentist, undermine the quality of the communication.
The study recommends dentists try to encourage their patients to write down questions before their appointment.
For example, the findings suggest that older patients who write down their questions before their office visit raise two or more concerns during the appointment than patients who don’t write down questions.
Another suggestion is longer appointments and more attentive listening. Research shows that the biggest complaint for patients is that their dentist doesn’t spend enough time with them.
Dr. Greg Rubin, of the Calabasas Dental Institute, agrees.
‘Many of my newer patients complain that their previous dentists never took the time to listen to them or their concerns,” said Dr. Greg Rubin, of the Calabasas Dental Institute.
“But I make it a point to spend as much time as needed with the patients until I and they feel comfortable and satisfied that I have answered all of their questions.”
The study also showed that dentists who gave older patients their undivided attention in the first 60 seconds are perceived as having spent a meaningful amount of time with them.
According to the findings, dentists can also avoid jargon and use simple language, being careful to speak slowly, clearly and loudly, but not be patronizing or condescending.
Other pointers for effective communication include not overwhelming patients with too much information and repeating key messages and instructions and checking that the older patients understand.
Another suggestion is for dentists to approach older patients from the front at eye level, making eye-contact, and taking time for introductions.
Dr. Greg Rubin says that even though the study highlights some great tips, he says these strategies are nothing new and are simply part of basic human interaction.
"Being passionate, personable and respectful are the foundation of any good dental practice," he said.
“Whether I’m talking about crowns, dental implants, or general cosmetic dentistry, root canals or dental veneers, I treat all of my older patients as if they are part of my family, with the utmost respect. Every case is different so I make sure to explain in the simplest terms every step of the procedure.”
Dr. Greg Rubin also said that his office regularly conducts in-house surveys of his patients asking if they would recommend the Calabasas Dental Institute to their friends and family. The survey showed that 98.7 percent of his patients overwhelmingly said yes.
"We get extremely high scores among our patients," he said.
According to Dr. Greg Rubin, the high scores are thanks to the excellent service he and his team of experts provide, especially in the field of dental implants, sleep apnea, cosmetic and general dentistry, bad breath and root canals.
He says that because tooth loss is a big concern for seniors, Dr. Greg Rubin says dental implants can be the answer.
"It's important for seniors to have their teeth in place so they can properly chew and digest their food."
The Calabasas Dental Institute is located at 4764 Park Granada #107, Calabasas, CA 91302; (818) 224-2420.
Using the latest in high-tech digital technology, this group of dental experts and specialists provide first rate personalized service in all aspects of cutting edge general and cosmetic dentistry. A sleep apnea treatment center, which offers the most advanced oral treatments on the market, is also conveniently located on the premises. Doctors at the Calabasas Dental Institute have pioneered some of the leading technologies in the treatment of bad breath and operate a one-stop bad breath treatment facility at the Calabasas location. For their innovation, they have been recognized nationally as leading experts in bad breath treatment by HealthTap.com, which ranked the group #1 among other health experts in the field. For more information, please visit CalabasasDentalInstitute.com.
Calabasas Dental Institute
Calabasas Dental Institute