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. 1.

    Good communication skills - 86%

  2. 2.

    Good interpersonal skills - 77%

  3. 3.

    High ethical standards - 76%

  4. 4.

    Managing patient expectations - 73%

  5. 5.

    High clinical standards and competence - 64%

  6. 6.

    Ability to cope with error - 57%

  7. 7.

    Continuous education/ improvement - 53%

  8. 8.

    Effective complaints handling - 44%

  9. 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.

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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.'