Why optimal patient satisfaction in a dental setting matters

Patient satisfaction is arguably one of the most significant factors in offering quality dental care. It is only logical that high patient satisfaction leads to better clinical outcomes, patient compliance and the lowering of dental fears and anxieties.

The Oral Health Foundation proposes that about 10 million adults in the UK experience dental anxiety – a worrying issue that has negative repercussions for a patient’s dental, physical, mental and psychosocial health. Patients who suffer from dental anxiety have an increased risk of developing dental problems and diseases. Issues such as cavities and tooth decay, chronic bad breath and periodontal disease are far more likely to occur when a patient forgoes professional dental care at the hands of a dentist City of London.

Fear of the dental practitioner is made manifest through the feelings of loss of control while sitting in the dental chair, traumatic past experiences, fear of pain, fear of needles and the whines of the dental drill. In addition to these, patients may also develop dental phobias when being treated by unsympathetic dental professionals. No matter the cause of dental anxiety, there is no escaping the fact that these tendencies all trigger a downward spiral of dental neglect.

 The benefits of providing a positive patient experience

The most significant benefit of a positive patient experience is oral health. When patients do not fear the dental appointment, it increases the odds of the patient seeking professional dental care when it is needed and attending routine dental health assessments.

The rewards of good oral health do not only relate to strong teeth and healthy gums, but what an exceptionally healthy mouth can offer; physical and psychosocial wellbeing. Dental health research has shown that poor oral health issues can impinge on overall physical health. For example, patients who cannot bite and chew due to missing teeth or tooth pain, are at great risk of becoming nutrient deficient, a state that impoverishes the immune system and impedes longevity.

Mental and emotional health also cannot escape the clutches of poor oral health. A consequential victim of poor dental health is the smile. Without a sunny smile to warm the reception from others, a person may struggle to maintain the level of confidence with which to grab hold of opportunities. Our image-obsessed society tells us that a pleasing smile is worth its weight in gold, helping us to make friends, win the hearts of soulmates and get hired or promoted. It seems that the reach of a dazzling smile is a long one.

When patients look after their oral health, they inadvertently keep the costs of dental care to a minimum. The cost of routine dental screenings is a far cry from what it would be to treat major dental problems. What is more is that patients can easily avoid lengthy and complex treatment plans.

Offering patients positive experiences starts with the right approach to dental care – a patient-centred approach. While a dental practitioner’s knowledge, professional skills and empathy all contribute to high patient satisfaction, an argument can also be made for a welcoming and comfortable dental environment.

Apurva Thakur

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