The Culturally Competent Dental Team

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CONFERENCE: Posters-at-the-Capitol

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Gipson, Deanna; Walker, Traci
conference paper description
Cultural sensitivity begins with the recognition that there are differences between cultures. These differences are reflected in the ways that different groups communicate and relate to one another, and they carry over into interactions with health care providers. A culturally competent clinician views all patients as unique and realizes that their experiences, beliefs, values, and language affect their perceptions of clinical service delivery, acceptance of a diagnosis, and compliance. This presentation demonstrates the need for and the benefits of cultural competency in dental care, and provides practical ways to increase the level of cultural competence in dental/healthcare providers. The American population is increasing in its diversity. There are disparities in the oral health status of people from different cultural backgrounds along with barriers that often prevent minorities from receiving the care they need. Additionally, many dental professionals have not received adequate training in cultural sensitivity or cultural competency. As healthcare providers deliver culturally competent care, patient care improves, patient satisfaction increases, and practices build clientele. In order to increase their cultural competence, healthcare providers should be aware of their own cultural values, recognize that there are differences between and within cultures, identify their own biases, prejudices, or stereotypes, and respect others' differences. The provider should also realize that a patient's culture influences his/her oral health decisions. Based on this, the healthcare provider should look for opportunities to increase his/her knowledge of cultural competency through continuing education courses, cultural competency manuals and material, and through spending time with people from other cultures, realizing that this is an ongoing process. When patients know they are valued and are invited to actively participate in determining treatment, they will seek care more often and get the care they truly need, which improves both their health as well as the health of the practice.