Never assume people understand what you are saying

Posted on Updated on

Dr Mark HassedA while ago I visited and ophthalmologist (eye doctor) for some treatment.

During the examination we were talking about some things and he said: “You have presbyopia.”

I nodded and said “Aha! I thought so.”

In truth I had no idea what he was saying but I did not want to appear stupid. Later, at home, I googled it.

When we are consulting with patients how often do we use technical terms and just expect that the patient knows what we’re talking about?

Terms like OPG, bitewing, periapical, periodontitis, root filling, crown (“Is that the same as a cap?” is a common question from patients), bridge, caries, amalgam (“Are those the white fillings?”), endodontist, orthodontist (“I went to the orthodontist to get my wisdom teeth out.”), composite… The list goes on.

Just because we know what amalgam is don’t assume patients do.

Try listening closely to what you say to patients and eliminate the jargon. Or, if you say some jargon then immediately explain what it is:

“Amalgam — the silver fillings.”

Never assume that patients know what you are saying.


The Art of Case Acceptance, Melbourne Saturday 25 February. Get to do more of the dentistry you enjoy.

Click here for details.

One thought on “Never assume people understand what you are saying

    davidmoffet said:
    January 10, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    I agree Mark. Just recently I had a hygienist in a Dental Office bamboozle me with techy words that I had no idea of the meaning. The patient was at even more of a loss.
    I think the hygienist may have been trying to “impress her mum” with her big words.

Leave a Reply