Dr Mark HassedThere are two “modes” in which you can communicate with patients.

The first is doctor to patient. That happens when the person is flat on their back and you are doing stuff to them.

In that “mode” the patient is passive and you, the dentist, is active. In that “mode” you should only say simple things like “open wide” or “keep still”.

The second is person to person.

In that “mode” you can discuss topics that require responses from the patient and thought. For example you can explain treatment options or talk about post-op instructions.

In that “mode” you are both equals. There is no passive-active divide. You are both active participant in the discussion. Therefore, the patient must be upright and you talk eye-to-eye and knee-to-knee. No mask. No bib. No safety glasses.

How often, though, I see dentists try to communicate complex ideas to the patient when they are in the first “mode”. It's plain wrong and greatly impedes the ability to communicate.

What “mode” are you in when you discuss treatment options?

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