How to Have a Culturally Sensitive Dental Practice

In a dental practice, providing treatment involves dealing with people of various cultural backgrounds and belief systems. With that, dental professionals need to have the cultural competency to form an active and trusting relationship with patients. In turn, this will help boost dental care.

Why It’s Important

Being culturally sensitive in the dental industry is effective in promoting systemic health and oral health, especially among immigrants. Through this, it can help overcome feelings of powerlessness that immigrants feel when they don’t belong to the existing culture.

In the dental industry, chances are high that you will deal with more immigrants. Some patients may have culture shock as they integrate into new social and cultural frameworks. The attitudes and beliefs of dental care providers can impact those who are at risk.

To develop a more culturally sensitive care, a dental practice must integrate a skill set with cultural awareness, appreciations for differences and understanding perceptions.

Here are ways to build cultural competency:

Establish Clear and Effective Communication

The ability to communicate with patients is one of the most effective steps to deliver culturally competent dental health care. There are various ways to communicate—body language, vocal, etc. It’s also normal to encounter patients who can’t speak English. Therefore, setting clear and effective communication platforms and methods can help you communicate better to your patients.

Improve Health Literacy

Patients with low health literacy may find it challenging to read insurance forms and accomplish health histories, and unfortunately, most of them will be too embarrassed to ask questions. Moreover, they may not be able to self-identify, which is why as a dental professional, you need to know how to recognise their rights. Remember, you have an ethical obligation to ensure patients understand their treatment plans, self-care instructions, etc.

Ensure Proper Health Data Collection

Health histories can be confusing, and those in the dental setting must be accurate and up-to-date. Make sure health data has the patient’s given birth name, but you should also ask them how they would like to be addressed. You should also ask patients what sex was assigned at birth, along with their current gender identity.

Another thing is, gender transition may have effects on a patient’s oral health, so knowing their sex assigned at birth, the procedures they’ve undergone and/or medications and supplements they took is crucial. Collecting the right and appropriate data are important to ensure the best dental treatment for your patients.

Some other best practices:

  • Review existing forms and questionnaires to ensure necessary and relevant information.
  • Have linguistic competency beyond the treatment room.
  • Consider publishing forms, questionnaires and informational material.
  • Have an online repository of forms, privacy practices and materials in multiple languages.
  • Implement consumer-friendly materials.


Developing an inclusive environment that welcomes diversity can transform lives. Through this, you will be able to implement a successful dental practice with satisfied and happy patients. You can also have better dental treatments that will suit the needs of your patients. Use these tips to have a more culturally sensitive dental practice that will allow you to provide the best dental care possible.

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