1: Introduction

Chapter 1


Dentistry can be a rewarding and satisfying profession. Dental health professionals must have a variety of skills to hand. These include not only clinical and technical skills but also those associated with patient management, managerial and financial acumen. This is reflected in their financial remuneration, which is often above average for staff employed within health-related disciplines. The principals of practices and, to a lesser extent, associates, have the ability to work at a pace they can ultimately decide upon. In reality this may seem something of a fantasy, as the demands on the modern practitioner appear less amenable to individual control. However, on closer inspection there are demands other than the financial and management constraints of running a busy practice that can cause difficulties. Some of these problems relate to patient and staff interaction and include the following:

  • difficult and demanding patients

  • encouraging patients to adhere to oral health recommendations

  • managing pain

  • the dentally anxious patient

  • patients with unexplained symptoms

  • informing patients about oral health, self-care and specialist treatments.

The aim of this book is to signpost principles and actions that will enhance the process of communication with patients and mitigate many of the difficulties listed above. The book will provide a framework within a dental context to assist with understanding the complex set of factors that make up dental practice in the 21st century. The authors have distilled the current literature into an authoritative account, with a small number of key references listed at the end of each chapter, including selected further reading.

What Makes this Book Different?

This volume translates recognised psychological and sociological principles into everyday clinical practice. The emphasis will be on application to the day-to-day working of the dental health professional. Hence, a major theme throughout the book will be communication between the dentist and the patient. Enhancement of an appropriate working relationship is a central focus. Less space will be devoted to systems of care outside the practice (for example, health organisations, mass media interventions and oral health surveys).

Self-care is a neglected subject in the health professions. The professional and philosophical underpinnings of primary dental care have tended to diminish the need to maintain good physical and psychological health of its practitioners while concentrating efforts on improving patient care. The authors would prefer to redress the balance and advocate the need of practitioners to ensure that they care for themselves enough to:

  • maintain high standards of care for patients

  • develop new techniques of prevention and treatment as they come on stream

  • achieve longer-term personal goals and therefore become more resilient to the vagaries of occupational stress and burnout

  • be able to recognise physical and emotional problems associated with work and outside the workplace.

Occupational stress is an easily recognised phenomenon in modern dental practice. However, the term has a tendency to be overused, or simply raised without further discussion of some of the underlying reasons for its experience for many working in dental practice. Alternatively, causative />

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Jan 4, 2015 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on 1: Introduction
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