Health literacy refers to an individual’s ability to obtain, communicate, and understand medical information. Being health literate also involves being able to describe symptoms, knowing where to go in order to deal with different health concerns, and how to manage medical treatments responsibly. As an aspiring healthcare professional, it’s essential to understand that patients’ levels of health literacy will differ, and in order to provide them with the best possible care, education should be a part of your routine. When patients understand their health, they enjoy better outcomes and fewer misunderstandings when treatment becomes necessary.
If you’re pursuing a career as a certified dental hygienist, you might be wondering how you can educate patients about their oral health–increasing their health literacy and leading them to a better sense of overall well-being. Consider these three helpful tips for providing excellent education to your patients throughout your dental hygienist career.
Use Relatable Comparisons to Improve Patient Understanding
As mentioned, each patient is likely to possess a different level of health literacy. In order to communicate information about dental hygiene clearly, you may need to simplify your delivery in order for it to land properly on all of your patients. This might not be the best time to bring out your extensive medical vocabulary. Instead, to ensure that patients understand the hygiene practices that will get them the best oral health outcomes, try providing relatable examples and comparisons.
For example, to demonstrate how stubborn dental plaque can be, try comparing it to the sticky grime that builds up on baths and showers, which, interestingly, many people clean off with a toothbrush. This might help patients understand the importance of regular brushing and flossing. After dental hygiene courses, try building up a toolbox of simple examples and comparisons to help patients understand basic dental hygiene principles.
Invite Questions After Dental Hygiene Courses
The best education is collaborative. It’s important to keep the line of communication open with patients in order to make them aware of aspects of their oral health that they don’t understand. After explaining a concept to your patients, always pause and invite questions in order to ensure that they’re receiving all of the information they need to fill in the gaps. Try to provide simple, concise answers. Prioritize actionable information that they can apply every morning and night when they care for their oral hygiene.
Engage Patient Senses When Educating Them
Many people learn best when all five of their senses are engaged in the process. In addition, we all have different learning styles. Some of us learn most effectively when we can reference visual representations of the information we’re studying. Others are more auditory learners and absorb information through engaging conversations.
To cover your bases, try to incorporate as many teaching tools as you can. Cover your walls with vibrant, easy-to-understand infographics that you can refer to. At the same time, encourage patients to put on some gloves, feel their own teeth and look in the mirror in order to understand their anatomy better.
In dental hygienist school, you’ll receive a career-focused education that will give you access to modern equipment. You’ll receive all of the theoretical and practical information you’ll need to pursue a successful dental hygiene career.
Ready to enroll in a dental hygienist diploma program?
Contact CADH for more information!