3 Essential Communication Techniques for Students in Dental Hygienist Training

A dental hygienist training grad speaking to a young patient

If you’re considering a dental hygienist career, it’s important to remember that your role will be front-facing. This means that you will be helping patients directly. You will assist dentists with examinations and procedures and perform cleanings and will also play a significant role in patient education and effective communication. After you’ve completed our rigorous 79-week dental hygienist diploma program, you will be fully prepared to perform the duties highlighted above. Remember to use these three communication tips throughout your career for better patient care, higher patient satisfaction, and effective education. 

1. Avoid Excessive Use of Dental Jargon to Maintain Clarity

Within the dental field, plenty of technical terminology and acronyms will quickly become a part of your daily vocabulary. When communicating with patients, it can be a challenge to share information about dental hygiene in a way they can understand. For example, as a dental hygienist, you’ll routinely use the term “halitosis” to describe bad breath. Here are some more simple terms to use when discussing dental hygiene with patients

  • Instead of scaling or root planing, use deep cleaning 
  • Instead of gingivitis, use gum disease or inflammation 
  • Instead of caries, use cavities 
  • Instead of sutures, use stitches 
  • Instead of analgesic, use pain relief

A dental hygienist training grad explaining a procedure to an elderly patient
Use simple language with patients after dental hygienist training.

2. Use Open-Ended Questions

When communicating with patients after dental hygienist training, listening is as essential as talking. Your patients are experts on their symptoms, so you can gain great insight into some strategies to provide superior care by getting them to share their sensations and their current dental hygiene habits. 

How can you get patients – particularly the nervous ones to open up? Your demeanor is crucial to patients’ willingness to speak with you. In addition, asking the right open-ended questions will give you the detail and context you need. Open-ended questions are the opposite of ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ One example is: “Can you describe the tooth pain that you’re experiencing?” and “What do you think the cause of this pain is?”

A dental hygienist training grad helping and speaking to a patient
Use open-ended questions to get details from patients.

3. Always Summarize Appointments After Dental Hygienist Training

After completing a dental hygienist diploma, summarize what was done and what you’ve discussed at the end of each appointment. There’s often potential for a lot of information overload during a dental appointment, so a summary of the appointment can help bring everything together for the patient, allowing for the retention of the information they received, whether they need to develop better dental hygiene habits, clarify details, or provide any helpful feedback. Here’s a structured approach to summarizing dental appointments: 

  • Start by reviewing the treatment performed 
  • Discuss key findings 
  • Provide oral hygiene instructions 
  • Discuss preventative measures 
  • Plan future dental work
  • Schedule the next dental appointment 
  • Answer questions from patients
  • Provide a written summary of the appointment to ensure that essential information is retained 
  • Encourage open lines of communication going forward

The dental hygienist program at CADH is designed to prepare students for all the professional challenges of work in dentistry. Our rigorous curriculum equips students with the theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills to promote oral health. Graduates also leave with many essential soft skills in their toolkits, such as inter-professional collaboration and communication techniques. You’ll have what it takes to thrive in this dynamic and rewarding industry. Start your journey with us today. 

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