Oral health messages – are they reaching our patients?
Catherine Rutland points out that patients may not see oral health messages and might need reminding of the changes practices are making after COVID-19.
It is easy for us to assume the general public understands oral health messages. We are all immersed in it, we feel it is communicated everywhere.
Yet I was reminded the other day, whilst presenting to a group of employees from a firm not in healthcare, that this is not the case.
It is a bit like if you have a blue car, suddenly you notice blue cars everywhere. Or you have your hair done in what you think is a new style and then notice everyone has it!
For us, we see teeth everywhere. The public don’t necessarily see messages associated with oral health.
It is not just about teeth, it is also their understanding of access, and safety and payment models.
Now more than ever, they find it hard to understand what’s available and what they should do for the best. Some are contacting practices and are still told they can only see a dentist if it is an emergency. Others still feel insecure about attending and don’t really understand cross infection and the extra precautions taken.
Whilst we cannot solve the bigger health messaging straight away, we can make sure that receptionists and the wider team are well trained and able to explain to patients why your practice is currently working a little differently to normal.
Whilst it may seem obvious when you have been working in different circumstances since last summer, to a patient who has not attended, it really isn’t. It is still a very different place from when they may have last come to the practice.
Oral health messages
As the country gradually opens up, we must remember that many people are facing anxiety about this.
People have got used to the new way of life and are nervous of the coming change. For many who have shielded, or worked from home, moving outside of their boundaries is challenging.
We are in such a unique position to provide them with the information that they will be safe and the importance of maintaining their oral health and its impact on their general health.
It’s hard to take on the view of a patient. Yet we must, now more than ever, to help restore their confidence in returning to the practice. This way you can do what you do best and care for them.
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