Dentists need to change their mindset from being ‘fixers’ to patient ‘trainers and educators’.
Dr. Kanokwan Urthamapimuk, or Dr. Catt, is an experienced dentist who owns two dental clinics in Bangkok. The philosophy of her practice revolves around patient-centric dental care, which she told us more about in our interview.
What is your dental philosophy and core values of your daily practice?
I perceive dental services as a personal health service, because a dental service in itself is personal. It is very unique to every individual. In our practice, we have coined the term ‘patient-centric’ dental care to represent our philosophy of putting our patients at the centre. We customise our service to suit each of our patients according to their personality, interests and health prognosis. Our goal is to help our patients take care of their health by improving their oral health their way.
What does high-quality patient care mean to you?
In my opinion, the patient should be the judge of the quality of care. Therefore, to qualify as high-quality care, the service needs to have patients involved in every step of their treatment, as well as prepare them to take care of themselves after the treatment.
“To qualify as high-quality care, the service needs to have patients involved in every step of their treatment, as well as prepare them to take care of themselves after the treatment.”
Quality treatment follows the academic knowledge and the science of dentistry. On the other hand, with high-quality care, it is important to consider other aspects as well, such as the patient’s psychological preferences and behavioural issues. This will turn ‘universal’ patient care into ‘personalised’ care. This is what premium-quality patient care means to me.
What is the best advice that you have received from your colleagues or teachers?
Everyone has their own opinions based on their perceptions, values and background. Even when looking at the same topic or the same subject matter, we may see things in a different way. Understanding this helps me expand my vision and look outside the bubble of what I have learned.
How do you motivate patients to keep good post-treatment oral care?
It starts from establishing the right relationship at the very beginning. I clearly explain the patient’s role in achieving the expected outcome. I let them be part of the analysis of the prognosis and of the condition of their oral health. We want to make sure that the patient understands that it’s not only up to us as dentists, but they also have a job to do. I start this process early and guide the patient through it based on their individual needs.
“Patients need to see the progress of work on their part as well as on our part.”
I believe that the key factor to establishing this relationship is to share a common goal and understanding. I show the patient the photos of their oral cavity, teeth, gums, etc., and explain what they see. Of course, different patients will need different types of guidance. Then we continue with follow-up actions. Patients need to see the progress of work on their part as well as on our part. As motivation works both ways, you want to make sure that our goal as dentists is to guide patients to ‘motivate themselves’ in the end.
Welcome to the Billion Healthy Mouths Club
Proper routines in prevention are the future of dentistry – that’s why we at Curaden launched the Billion Healthy Mouths Club – a community of dental professionals committed to the idea of having proper routines in prevention and a holistic approach to dentistry. Dr. Catt is one of those dental professionals who shares these values, and we proudly present her experience and thoughts with other like-minded people from the field. Keep reading our Gently magazine to discover more interviews with forward-thinking professionals from around the world.
How do you educate yourself?
Reading books, research papers and educational content from both Thai FDA and international. Watching YouTube, listening to podcasts, attending paid and free courses on the subjects of my interest. But the key learnings come from my own patients and my own team, when I try to apply what I learned from others into live action. This is when the real learning happens for me.
What change do you wish to see in your field during the next 5 years?
I wish there would be sufficient patient interest to convince dentists that it is important to be their trainer and educator, rather than just the ‘fixer’. Patients will drive the change in dentistry.
“A common myth is that the patient’s oral health is the sole responsibility of the dentist.”
What is a common stereotype of dentistry you dislike? How do you cope with it?
There are so many! For example, patients perceive that dentists are just after patients’ money, because dentists do just a little work and yet charge sky-high prices. Or that dental services are not important and are negotiable. Another common myth is that the patient’s oral health is the sole responsibility of the dentist. These are the ones I dislike the most. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s our peers who contributed to these stereotypes.
I manage it by being different and letting my work speak for itself. My way of working is to show patients that there are dentists who are different from those they have experienced previously. I put the patient’s health and their interests at the centre of my work.
What is the advice that most of your patients hear from you?
Clean it right and keep it clean. And then all the pain, treatment expenses and time for fixing will be unnecessary.
“Clean it right and keep it clean. And then all the pain, treatment expenses and time for fixing will be unnecessary.”
What is the most underestimated oral care routine from your point of view? How do you try to stress its importance?
Checking your cleaning performance. In most cases, people do clean their teeth, but they seldom evaluate whether the outcome corresponds to what they really need.
Which skill and character feature is an absolute must-have in your job as a specialised dental professional?
Empathy and listening to people.
What does your oral hygiene routine look like?
I clean my proximal spaces with an interdental brush and dental floss. Then single brush before finishing it off with the toothbrush.
Dr. Kanokwan Urthamapimuk, or Dr. Catt, lives in Thailand and has a double degree in dentistry and business administration. She has worked as a dentist since 1999 and now owns two dental clinics in Bangkok. Dr. Catt frequently speaks at professional events and universities about the challenges of managing a dental business, and promoting preventive dentistry. She supports the importance of prophylactic thinking in dentistry also a certified iTOP lecturer.