Using plain language in the dental office means communicating with our patients so that they understand the message the first time they hear or read it. By communicating with patients:
- In an active voice
- With short sentences, and
- With common, every day words, we’re more likely to leave a lasting impression on them with our message.
Plain Language and the Teach Back Method
The teach back method has been recommended for years in support of plain language and promoting understanding in the dental or doctor’s office. The teach back method asks the patient to repeat the information back to the health care provider to ensure they understood the message.
You can use this method in your dental office by:
- Asking the patient to repeat the information or instructions during their appointment, or
- Asking the patient to tell you what their at-home care plan is and what instructions they are to follow.
Using Visual Aids for Dental Health Literacy
Visual aids are another recommendation for promoting dental health literacy. It’s important to remember that not all of us are auditory listeners. By providing some concrete materials for visualizing what the message is, we give our patients a higher chance of being on the same page as us for their treatment plan. Help them be successful by giving them resources to understand.
A patient’s at-home dental care behaviors are shaped by their dentist. A dentist’s advice for home care should be clear, concise, and straightforward.
Avoid Common Dental Jargon