BACD’s Sam Jethwa Ponders the ‘New Normal’

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BACD’s Sam Jethwa asks: “How different will dentistry really be?”

With practices preparing to reopen, there is much talk about the “new normal”. We will certainly see lots of elements of different and “new”, particularly regarding practical, everyday changes. What won’t change is every great dentist’s commitment to delivering excellence.

Patients will need to feel 100% confident that they will be safe. Every practice will be augmenting its infection control measures, improving systems in place long before the COVID-19 outbreak. Patient confidence will depend almost entirely on how much trust they have in you and your practice. Reassure them that their safety has always been a priority, but empathise with their current concerns. Tell them how every effort will be made to keep them safe, from the minute they step inside until the moment they leave.

Effective communication is the touchstone for building trust. A dentist who is meticulous in their planning will have well-informed patients who understand the purpose of their treatment, as well as the potential consequences of not going ahead. They will know the alternatives and all their options, and what processes will be used – and they’ll understand what safety measures will be in place at every stage of their treatment.

They’ll also know what they need to do to mitigate the risks of failure, to keep the end result stable, and looking beautiful for years to come. Ultimately, a dentist who is methodical in their planning will see more successful treatment outcomes and have better, more trusting relationships with their patients.

Dentists who have established trust will find it considerably easier to get the new reassurances about patient safety across. Trust and consent are the foundations of a high-value dental experience towards which the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) has long led the way, having published a set of protocols a couple of years ago, BACD Cosmetic Consultation Protocols and Consent Forms.

These provide a structure for well-prepared cosmetic dental practice, and a template that can be tailored to every patient. The protocols also address issues that will prove central for post-COVID dentistry, such as thorough pre-assessment and giving the right amount of time to every patient. Planning protocols are the building blocks for success; they validate consent and encourage post treatment compliance. They help reduce treatment failure, as well as complaints.

So, the “new” normal for great, patient-focused dentistry hasn’t changed, it is still about the willingness to adapt and to learn, to embrace the latest technology and techniques, to elevate daily practice, and to do everything better. Dentistry is constantly evolving and challenging; post-lockdown, we are just facing fresh challenges.

Months spent away from practice has also highlighted the importance of the wider dental community; working together will help keep service delivery high. If you have not yet been part of a professional academy, now could be a great time to join. Strength in numbers should never be underestimated and support of your dental colleagues across the UK will keep you going, should the going ever get tough.

Dentists, students and technicians who share a commitment to excellence should look to the BACD. A world-leading authority on ethical cosmetic dentistry, its positive, vibrant community, and access to first-class educational opportunities, have always been reasons to join. The BACD also recently launched an online learning portal, to help its members keep up-to-date.

Patients need to feel confident about returning to the practice - and dentists need to get back to improving the UK’s oral health. Good dentistry can be life-changing, dramatically improving a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Now is the time to be methodical in your planning, to reassure patients about safety, gain valid consent and get wonderful, stable results.

Let the changing times inspire you to elevate your practice and to keep learning, keep evolving and to keep doing better.

If you are dentist and would like to order a copy of the BACD’s Cosmetic Consultation Protocols and Consent Forms, or if you want more information about Academy membership, visit www.bacd.com