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Lost in translation

Simon Beeston and Ross King discuss how important it is for dentists to be able to communicate effectively with their team and patients.

It is widely acknowledged that it's only a matter of time before all dentists, not just those from outside the EU, will have to demonstrate that they are proficient in English if they wish to practise in the UK. 

A dentist needs to be able to communicate on social, palliative and clinical levels using appropriate language for all three. Dentistry differs from other health professions in that much of what a dentist does is procedural. It’s not just consultation: it’s another aspect that needs to be explained to each and every patient – what’s being done, why it’s being done and what is the experience likely to be? Treatment plans and alternatives need to be clearly explained and understood. Records have to be maintained accurately and be capable of being fully understood by another dentist if it’s in a group practice. Letters of referral must be comprehensive and in no way ambiguous. 

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