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Communication tops list of what makes a great dentist

Post date: 27/01/2023 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 01/02/2023

Over 4 in 5 young dentists regard good communication as a top skill for a great dentist, according to a Dental Protection survey.

In the snapshot survey of dentists who qualified in the last five years, 86% believe good communication skills are an extremely important factor in what makes a great dentist, followed by interpersonal skills (77%), high ethical standards (76%) and high clinical standards and competence (64%).

The list of what makes a great dentist is as follows, with the percentage of young dentists who consider each attribute as extremely important:

  1. Good communication skills – 86%
  2. Good interpersonal skills – 77%
  3. High ethical standards – 76%
  4. Managing patient expectations – 73%
  5. High clinical standards and competence – 64%
  6. Ability to cope with error – 57%
  7. Continuous education/ improvement – 53%
  8. Effective complaints handling – 44%
  9. Enjoying clinical work – 43%

Dental Protection said the figures show that young dentists ultimately understand the value of good communication skills in building trust, achieving informed consent and in reducing the risk of complaints and claims.

George Wright, Deputy Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “The instinct of the early career dentist is spot on. While technical knowledge and competence are important, good communication is the predominant factor. It builds trust, which fosters an understanding of treatment options and promotes shared decision making and a positive dentist-patient relationship.

“Our experience over the years has shown that patients also place a high value on communication skills and are less likely to complain following an adverse incident, if they feel communication has been good.

“When patients experience poor communication, not only are they more likely to complain, but these complaints can easily escalate. Visiting a solicitor is often cited by patients as the only way they feel they can get an answer. Good communication also protects dental professionals by ensuring patients are fully informed when consenting to treatment, which minimises complaints and reduces the risk of litigation.

“From a business perspective, good communication helps to grow a practice’s goodwill as satisfied patients are more likely to make recommendations to others leading to practice growth and greater success.”

Dental Protection members benefit from bespoke workshops on communication skills and these can be accessed at: Prism from Medical Protection Society.


For further information contact Emma Mugizi, Press Officer at MPS: E: [email protected] T:+44 (0)7773 598474

About Dental Protection

Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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