4 Ways the Patient-Doctor Paradigm Has Changed Since the 80s

The dentist-patient relationship is the cornerstone of quality clinical care, and its significance has grown over time. We see it in article after article that stronger dentist-patient relationships correlate with improved patient outcomes, but what does that mean? It means that a positive and trusting relationship between the dentist and patient tends to lead to better overall results in terms of oral health. When patients feel comfortable and have a good rapport with their dentist, they are more likely to communicate openly about their concerns, follow recommended treatment plans, and adhere to oral hygiene practices.

How has the relationship between dentist and patient evolved over time?

As we delve into the evolving healthcare landscape, exploring the factors that have influenced the patient-doctor paradigm since the 1980s becomes vital. From technological advancements to shifting societal expectations, let us embark on a journey to uncover four ways this dynamic relationship has transformed over the years.

1. Improved communications between the dentist and patient. 

Improved communication between dentists and patients has significantly developed the patient-doctor paradigm. Over time, there has been an evolution in patient-doctor communication. In the 1970s, doctors had minimal training in communication, with appointments primarily focused on physical examinations and resolving medical issues. 

By the 1980s, medical students began receiving basic education in patient communication. In the 1990s, there was a growing recognition of the importance of communication, although limited time was dedicated to its teaching. This evolution reflects a shift towards recognizing the value of effective communication in building stronger dentist-patient relationships and enhancing patient outcomes.

2. Roles of Dentist and Patient 

The roles of dentist and patient have undergone significant changes over time, reflecting a shift from a paternalistic model to a more collaborative approach. In the past, the paternalistic model dominated, where the dentist held the authority and made decisions on behalf of the patient. 

This evolved into the interpretive model, where the dentist focused on understanding the patient’s needs and preferences. Then the deliberative model emerged, emphasizing shared decision-making between dentist and patient. Later, the informative model emerged, empowering patients with information to participate in their treatment decisions actively. 

Presently, the dentist-patient relationship is characterized by a meeting between two experts, with the patient as an expert on themselves and the dentist as a medical expert. 

3. Evolution of Dental Technology 

The evolution of dental technology has transformed the field of dentistry over the past century, revolutionizing patient care and treatment outcomes. Significant advancements have propelled the profession forward. 

From the development of X-ray imaging and anesthesia to the introduction of CAD/CAM technology and dental lasers, dental technology has greatly enhanced diagnosis, treatment precision, and patient comfort. Additionally, innovations such as digital dentistry, 3D printing, and teledentistry have opened new possibilities for efficient workflows and improved access to dental care. 

4. Focused on Relationship-centered Care

Relationship-centered care between dentists and their patients today emphasizes a comprehensive approach that goes beyond clinical expertise. Dentists strive to understand their patients’ perspectives, actively listen to their concerns, and address their individual needs. This patient-centered approach involves a collaborative decision-making process where dentists actively involve patients and their families in treatment discussions. It emphasizes sharing treatment-relevant power, ensuring that patients are informed, empowered, and actively participate in decisions regarding their oral health. This relationship-centered care fosters trust, enhances patient satisfaction, and promotes a more personalized and holistic approach to dental treatment.

Adding orthodontics to your dental practice fosters an improved patient-dentist relationship.

Incorporating orthodontics into your dental practice expands the scope of services and fosters an improved patient-doctor relationship. Dentists can address patients’ orthodontic concerns by providing orthodontic treatments, enhancing their oral health and instilling confidence in their smiles. This comprehensive approach establishes trust, increases patient satisfaction, and reinforces the dentist’s role as a trusted oral healthcare provider.

Furthermore, the evolution of communication in healthcare has played a pivotal role in shaping the patient-doctor relationship. Effective communication has become paramount from the paternalistic model of the past to the present-day emphasis on collaboration and shared decision-making. Dentists who prioritize open and transparent communication with their patients create an environment encouraging patients to participate in their treatment decisions, improving treatment outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Sign up for orthodontic CE courses with the American Orthodontic Society. 

To further expand your knowledge and skills in orthodontics, we encourage dentists to consider orthodontic continuing education (CE) courses offered by the American Orthodontic Society. These courses provide valuable insights, techniques, and advancements in orthodontic treatment, equipping dentists with the expertise to deliver exceptional orthodontic care and strengthen the patient-doctor relationship.

By embracing orthodontics and staying abreast of the evolving communication trends in healthcare, dentists can elevate their practice, provide comprehensive care, and build lasting patient relationships based on trust and collaboration. 

Take the next step in your dental journey by exploring orthodontic CE courses through the American Orthodontic Society today.

To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.

March 1-2, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

1st Session: March 8-10, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

April 12-13, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

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