Dentistry beyond words

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  Posted by: Dental Design      14th June 2024

Dentists and their teams are required to document everything that happens during a patient appointment. From the results of clinical assessments to the specific oral hygiene advice given, a written record is created and saved. The General Dental Council (GDC) Standards for the Dental Team[i] mandate that “as much detail as possible” is included in these patient notes in order to accurately represent the conversations that took place. The same standards also obligate that dental professionals should be aware of how both their tone of voice and body language could be perceived by patients.

This is challenging for even the most diligent dental professional for a number of reasons, not least of which is the inability to completely and contemporaneously reflect the sentiment of conversations merely through the written word. Finding a way to keep a record of such things is important to ensure that clinicians are given credit for the comprehensive way they engage with their patients. In response to this, dynamic technological solutions have been developed that are changing the game for clinical note taking.

It’s not what you said…

What you say as a professional to your patient, as well as how you say it, are essential considerations within dental consultations. Research[ii] has demonstrated tone of voice to significantly impact how words are construed, in particular, emphasising negative or positive connotations. Specifically within a healthcare setting, effectively using the right tone of voice has also been shown to strengthen patient-professional relationships and enhance the exchange of information.[iii]

A 2023 study[iv] reviewed the impact of both voice tone and word choice within a medical setting. When doctors emphasised the benefits – in this case about weight loss – in a positive and upbeat sentiment, patients responded more favourably. Professionals whose tone and words took a negative approach and were delivered in a slower way, saw increased hesitation from patients to follow advice. This is why it’s crucial to think about both what you say and how you say it when communicating with patients in the dental practice.

All of this presents a challenge – how do you accurately record the way information is delivered to the patient during a consultation when keeping solely written notes?

Details matter

To maintain contemporaneous, accurate and complete notes – as per GDC requirements – dental professionals must document as much information about appointments as possible. Writing notes in real-time may seem like the best way to achieve this. However, multitasking by healthcare professionals is associated with a lower quality of patient care.[v] Not only is your attention, or that of your dental nurse taken away from your patient in order to write notes there and then, but the opportunity for errors and missed details also increases.

The alternative is to complete notes after the event, in the evening, for instance. But this approach affords its own issues. For a start, it relies on adding details from memory – which allows crucial details to be overlooked. A study[vi] also found that dentists remembered far fewer psychosocial details than technical elements from an earlier consultation, which leads to further loss of clarity, context and sentiment within the records.

This leads to another major challenge in accurate record taking – when and how do you document details, without missing out relevant nuances or compromising patient care?

The revolution is here

For many clinicians, relying solely on written record keeping is a flawed, outdated and inefficient approach to documenting patient interactions and consultations. Digital dentistry has revolutionised many other aspects of the daily workflow and it has the capability to do the same in the clinical note taking space. It’s time we made the change.

With the right technology and support, it is possible to deliver exceptional patient care while protecting the professional team from potential legal disputes that can arise from inadequate clinical notes. Innovative software now allows you to record every single conversation with every single patient. It provides an accurate representation of what was said and how it was said, documenting the exact wording used in minute detail. What’s more, it does all of this while having nothing but a positive impact on the quality of care provided. Your attention is not pulled away from your patient and you needn’t worry about what you will and won’t remember at a later time.

How is this possible?

Dental Audio Notes (DAN) makes the documentation of complete, accurate and contemporaneous clinical notes effortless. It provides an audio recording of consultations, so both you and your patient are protected by a genuine account of everything that actually happened. The software optimises the consent, security, privacy and storage of data for the full 11 years required for total peace of mind, allowing recordings to be safely shared with patients to enhance their engagement too. In addition, it is simple to integrate within your existing systems and can be set up and ready to go straightaway.

The future of clinical record keeping

Most dental professionals will agree that dental record keeping can be an arduous process, despite its importance in protecting patients and dentists. Manually creating written records is no longer the best option for clinical notes – modern technology is trailblazing a new approach. Upgrade your processes to streamline your administrative workflow and elevate patient care standards at the same time.

For more information about Dental Audio Notes (DAN), or to arrange a free demo, please visit

 Aleksandra Rozwadowska Bio:

Ala is a dentist and the co-founder of Dental Audio Notes alongside her husband, Adam. Dental Audio Notes was created in response to the challenges of trying to master every aspect of clinical dentistry. Together, they love helping dentists to master their clinical records, and to finally get credit for the good work they do with their patients, instead of relying just on what they had time to write down.

[i] GDC Standards for the Dental Team. principle Four. Main and protect patients’ information. [Accessed April 2024]

[ii] Schirmer A. Mark my words: tone of voice changes affective word representations in memory. PLoS One. 2010 Feb 15;5(2):e9080. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009080. PMID: 20169154; PMCID: PMC2821399.

[iii] Johnsson A, Boman Å, Wagman P, Pennbrant S. Voices used by nurses when communicating with patients and relatives in a department of medicine for older people-An ethnographic study. J Clin Nurs. 2018 Apr;27(7-8):e1640-e1650. doi: 10.1111/jocn.14316. PMID: 29493834.

[iv] C. Albury, H. Webb, E. Stokoe, et al. Relationship Between Clinician Language and the Success of Behavioral Weight Loss Interventions: A Mixed-Methods Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med.2023;176:1437-1447. [Epub 7 November 2023]. doi:10.7326/M22-2360

[v] D Singh KC (2013) Does Multitasking Improve Performance? Evidence from the Emergency Department. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management 16(2):168-183.

[vi] Misra S, Daly B, Dunne S, Millar B, Packer M, Asimakopoulou K. Dentist-patient communication: what do patients and dentists remember following a consultation? Implications for patient compliance. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2013 Jun 17;7:543-9. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S43255. PMID: 23814463; PMCID: PMC3693916.

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