Dental Health
Oral Health

How to Build Mutual Respect in the Dentist-Patient Relationship

There is a wealth of information available to dentists on how to build a better relationship with their patients – but precious little about how patients can build a better relationship with their dentists. Like any relationship, it will be stronger if it is a two-way street where both parties are striving for better communication.

Respect and common courtesy go a long way on both ends of the dentist-patient relationship. Establishing a solid relationship with your dentist opens up more lines of communication.

A healthy dentist-patient relationship comes with a variety of advantages and makes dental visits less stressful. Developing a relationship with the family dentist as not only a professional but a caring human being has a many benefits and will result in less stress, he says.

I offer these suggestions:

  • Be punctual. For the patient and the dentist, the best way to start a relationship is with the common courtesy of punctuality. The patient needs to arrive on time and the dentist needs to see the patient on time. Sometimes delays cannot be helped, but an effort should be made by both parties to be on time.
  • Be honest. For the patient, be honest about your expectations, your dental history (including being honest when the dentist asks if you floss regularly) and any dental issues you have had in the past that your dentist may be unaware of. The dentist needs to be honest about all the potential outcomes of the procedure.
  • Be prepared. Let the dentist know what your issues and concerns are. Make sure he or she has your most up-to-date dental records and let him know if you have seen a different dentist recently.
  • Express gratitude. A simple thank you can go a long way in building a relationship for both the dentist and the patient.
  • When warranted, offer sincere praise. Everybody likes to hear about it when they have done a good job, even dentists.

Dentists are trained on how to work with patients, but a little mutual respect will go a long way toward making the visit to the dentist a little more enjoyable for everybody.”

Dr. Ami Barakat, author of Perfecting Smiles, Changing Lives (, is a general dentist who has trained extensively in orthodontics.  He has received several prestigious awards in recognition of his talent, achievements and passion for dentistry.  He graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry with honors and served a one-year residency at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.  

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