Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Dyslexia in dentistry: recommendations to support dental professionals and students with dyslexia

Abstract

Dyslexia is the most common learning difficulty. It affects 10% of the global and UK population. It is a protected characteristic and thus it is recommended that reasonable adjustments are made for individuals in order to help them be successful in their career. This article has identified the need for more research into the impact of dyslexia on dental professionals. Through analysing the literature and from personal experience, recommendations are outlined to support dentists, dental students and dental care professionals with dyslexia.

Key points

  • It is important dental professionals with dyslexia feel supported to disclose their condition in the workplace and in higher education.

  • It is a legal obligation for dental educators and employers to provide reasonable adjustments for individuals with learning difficulties.

  • Increased awareness of dyslexia is necessary in dentistry to educate the dental team how to support dental professionals with this condition.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Handler S M, Fierson W M. Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision. Pediatrics 2011; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-3670.

  2. British Dyslexia Association. Dyslexia and specific difficulties: overview. Available at https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexia/neurodiversity-and-co-occurring-differences (accessed October 2020).

  3. Newlands F, Shrewsbury D, Robson J. Foundation doctors and dyslexia: a qualitative study of their experiences and coping strategies. Postgraduate Med J 2015; 91: 121-126.

  4. Shrewsbury D. Dyslexia in general practice education: considerations for recognition and support. Educ Prim Care 2016; 27: 267-270.

  5. Gibson S, Leinster S. How do students with dyslexia perform in extended matching questions, short answer questions and observed structured clinical examinations? Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2011; 16: 395-404.

  6. Crouch A T. Perceptions of the possible impact of dyslexia on nursing and midwifery students and of the coping strategies they develop and/or use to help them cope in clinical practice. Nurse Educ Pract 2019; 35: 90-97.

  7. Locke R, Scallan S, Mann R, Alexander G. Clinicians with dyslexia: a systematic review of effects and strategies. Clin Teach 2015; 12: 394-398.

  8. Morris D, Turnbull P. Clinical experiences of students with dyslexia. J Adv Nurs 2006; 54: 238-247.

  9. Morris D, Turnbull P. A survey-based exploration of the impact of dyslexia on career progression of UK registered nurses. J Nurs Manag 2007; 15: 97-106.

  10. Major R, Tetley J. Recognising, managing and supporting dyslexia beyond registration. The lived experiences of qualified nurses and nurse academics. Nurse Educ Pract 2019; 37: 146-152.

  11. Shaw S, Hennessy L R, Okorie M, Anderson J L. Safe and effective prescribing with dyslexia. BMC Med Educ 2019; DOI: 10.1186/s12909-019-1709-5.

  12. National Health Service (NHS). Overview dyslexia. 2018. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/ (accessed March 2021).

  13. Mencap. Learning difficulties. Available at https://www.mencap.org.uk/learning-disability-explained/learning-difficulties (accessed March 2021).

  14. Romberg F, Bennett A, Sally E. How Should Medical Schools Respond to Students with Dyslexia? AMA J Ethics 2016; 18: 975-985.

  15. Arnett A B, Pennington B F, Peterson R L, Willcutt E G, DeFries J C, Olson R K. Explaining the sex difference in dyslexia. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2017; 58: 719-727.

  16. Macdonald S J, Deacon L. Twice upon a time: Examining the effect socio-economic status has on the experience of dyslexia in the United Kingdom. Dyslexia 2019; 25: 3-19.

  17. Knight C. The impact of the dyslexia label on academic outlook and aspirations: An analysis using propensity score matching. Br J Educ Psychol 2021; DOI: 10.1111/bjep.12408.

  18. Shaw S C K, Anderson J L. The experiences of medical students with dyslexia: an interpretive phenomenological study. Dyslexia 2018; 24: 220-233.

  19. White J. Supporting nursing students with dyslexia in clinical practice. Nurs Stand 2007; 21: 35-42.

  20. Illingworth K. The effects of dyslexia on the work of nurses and healthcare assistants. Nurs Stand 2005; 19: 41-48.

  21. Griffiths C. Dentistry and a dyslexic mind. 2018. Available at https://www.dental-nursing.co.uk/features/dentistry-and-a-dyslexic-mind (accessed March 2021).

  22. Ali K, Kisielewska J, Subhan M M F, Tredwin C. How does dyslexia impact on the educational experiences of healthcare students? A qualitative study. Eur J Dent Edu 2019; 24: 154-162.

  23. Locke R, Alexander G, Mann R, Kibble S, Scallan S. Doctors with dyslexia: strategies and support. Clin Teach 2017; 14: 355-359.

  24. Asghar Z B, Siriwardena A N, Elfes C et al. Performance of candidates disclosing dyslexia with other candidates in a UK medical licensing examination: cross-sectional study. Postgrad Med J 2018; 94: 198-203.

  25. Brennan C M, Harrison W. The dyslexic surgeon.2020. Available at https://publishing.rcseng.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1308/rcsbull.2020.72 (accessed March 2021).

  26. Major R, Tetley J. Effects of dyslexia on registered nurses in practice. Nurse Educ Pract 2019; 35: 7-13.

  27. Newton J T, McDonald F, Al Shirawi L. Dyslexia and errors of left-right discrimination in undergraduate dental and postgraduate orthodontic students. J Disabil Oral Health 2017; 8: 23-27.

  28. General Dental Council. Principle One, Put patients' interests first. 2020. Available at https://standards.gdc-uk.org/pages/principle1/principle1.aspx (accessed November 2020).

  29. UK Government. Equality Act. 2010. Available at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/20 (accessed November 2020).

  30. Vogan C L, McKimm J, Da Silva A L, Grant A. Twelve tips for providing effective student support in undergraduate medical education. Med Teach 2014; 36: 480-485.

  31. Norris M, Hammond J, Williams A, Walker S. Students with specific learning disabilities experiences of pre-registration physiotherapy education. BMC Med Educ 2019; 20: 2.

  32. Gillin N. Legal, ethical and practical considerations in research involving nurses with dyslexia. Nurse Res 2015; 23: 21-25.

  33. Tso S. Disabled graduate-entry student Experience. Clin Teach 2018; 15: 109-113.

  34. Morris D K, Turnbull P A. The disclosure of dyslexia in clinical practice: experiences of student nurses in the United Kingdom. Nurse Educ Today 2007; 27: 35-42.

  35. Cullen J, Darby L, Rahmani M. Dyslexia: an invisible disability. Br J Hosp Med 2019; 80: 426-427.

  36. MacDougall M. Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, and Medical Students' Needs for Learning and Using Statistics. Med Educ Online 2009; DOI: 10.3402/meo.v14i.4512.

  37. UK Government. Get support in work if you have a disability or health condition (Access to Work). 2020. Available at https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work (accessed November 2020).

  38. Sheikh H. On disclosing dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties: A personal insight. Med Educ 2020; 54: 276.

  39. Mortimore T. Dyslexia in higher education: creating a fully inclusive institution. J Res Spec Educ Needs 2013; 13: 38-47.

  40. Shaw S C K, Anderson J L. Twelve tips for teaching medical students with dyslexia. Med Teacher 2017; 39: 686-690.

  41. BBC News. Dyslexic student's exams battle. 2008. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7530159.stm (accessed March 2021).

  42. McKendree J, Snowling M J. Examination results of medical students with dyslexia. Med Educ 2011; 45: 176-182.

  43. Ricketts C, Brice J, Coombes L. Are multiple choice tests fair to medical students with specific learning disabilities? Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2010; 15: 265-275.

  44. Royal College of Surgeons England. LocSSIPs Toolkit Dental Extraction. Available at https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/dental-faculties/fds/publications-guidelines/locssips-toolkit-dental-extraction/ (accessed November 2020).

  45. Branson R. Dyslexic Thinking Skills Explained. Made by dyslexia. 2017. Available at https://madebydyslexia.blog/2017/08/16/dyslexic-thinking-skills-explained/ (accessed November 2020).

  46. Everatt J, Steffert B, Smythe I. An eye for the unusual: creative thinking in dyslexics. Dyslexia 1999; 5: 28-46.

  47. Everatt J, Weeks S, Brooks P. Profiles of strengths and weaknesses in dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Dyslexia 2008; 14: 16-41.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

LM conceived the idea, conducted, and analysed the literature review and lead the write up of the article. DK helped with the literature search and the manuscript completion.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Linzi Maybin.

Ethics declarations

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary Information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Maybin, L., Keshani, D. Dyslexia in dentistry: recommendations to support dental professionals and students with dyslexia. Br Dent J 231, 580–583 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-3607-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-3607-6

Search

Quick links