Five dental insurance terms you (and your patients) should know

Transitioning to the clinic portion of dental school comes with a lot of changes. Navigating the intricacies of dental insurance shouldn’t be one that you worry about. Whether your patient has private dental insurance or a public plan through Medicaid, there is some basic terminology that is universal. Being able to speak the language of dental insurance will help you better communicate with your patient and get through the world of clinic. In addition, it’ll help you communicate with insurance companies after dental school and become an active participant in the legislative conversation regarding health insurance. Here is a list of the top five dental insurance terms you should know before entering clinic.

Treating your first patient

Your first experience interacting with a patient face-to-face can be a little intimidating. It may be the first time you feel like a real dentist, even though you’re still in the middle of your studies. You’ll always remember that first patient. As your clinical knowledge grows, you may even think back to how that first visit could have gone smoother. Despite all the pre-clinical training we receive, interacting with real patients is different than sitting in a lecture with other students. Here are five tips to make the first experience a positive one.

How to communicate with your patient: part II (video series)

Patient communication part IIAs dental students, our experiences involving patient communication are rather limited. While we have the ability to practice our craft on a manikin, we can never fully prepare ourselves for the different scenarios where we may need to manage a patient in order to provide quality care. This three-part video series focuses on how to navigate difficult communication situations, so that hopefully you would be prepared when faced with a similar situation!

Now that you’ve learned how to manage an emotionally charged patient (see part I), it’s time to learn ways to communicate when a procedure might take longer than planned.

What I learned from my first dental emergency

A hospital emergency bay area with a huge red signageThe start of my third year of dental school also marked the start of our transition into clinic. My first rotation was in Emergency Care and despite the fact that I had no previous experience seeing patients up until that point, I felt confident. Assisting and observing my classmates in preparation for my rotation only confirmed this self-assurance. All I had to do was take the patient’s medical history and perhaps arrange for an oral surgery consult. It all seemed simple enough.

Seeing your first patient, especially as an emergency case, is an exciting milestone that can quickly turn into an emotional and stressful experience.

Using music to manage dental anxiety

music on iphoneEvery time I told someone that I wanted to be a dentist, the most common response I received was, “No offense, but I hate dentists.” But why do people fear the dentist? Dental anxiety is a very common problem that may cause patients to avoid making regular visits to the dentist. Patients with dental anxiety have been shown to have a higher risk of periodontal disease and subsequently, tooth loss from delayed treatment. Common symptoms of dental anxiety include loss of sleep before the appointment, nervousness, crying, nausea, trouble breathing or panic attacks. With this in mind, how can dentists help reduce that anxiety and stress for the sake of their patients’ well-being?

Five things I wish I’d known before getting into clinic

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 10.54.25 AM Graduating from the preclinical labs to the predoctoral clinic brought a lot of anxiety and the unexpected. The experience has been very rewarding though I wish I’d known a few little nuggets beforehand that would have made the transition smoother. Here are a few tidbits that have helped me the past two years in clinic. I hope they can be beneficial to you as well!

What do you do when a patient is more focused on their chart than on you?

snooping-patientI recall an encounter I had with a new patient of mine. She was a middle-aged woman who has not seen a dentist in a very long time. The visit started with a “Welcome to UCSF” message, a brief overview of the clinic operations, and the goal for today’s appointment. At UCSF, we are taught to sit face-to-face when using the computer instead of behind the patient to allow adequate eye contact. It also allows for a more collaborative platform when discussing treatment plan options. I apologized to the patient in advance if there are times when I am focused on editing my note or navigating my way through Axium. But this patient wanted more than just a discussion. Keep reading to find out what happened and weigh in on how you would have handled it…