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These days, there is a growing emphasis on quality over quantity, that is, preferring an object or service that is worthwhile rather than a quick and easy fix. As Dr Miguel Stanley explained in Part 1 of this series, this is what Slow Dentistry—a more patient oriented and wholesome approach to dentistry— is built on. It also seeks to bring the focus in dental care back to clinical excellence rather than single-minded emphasis on profit. In this interview, Slow Dentistry Honorary Global Ambassador for Hungary Prof. Katalin Nagy speaks about why dental practice makes different demands in the twenty-first century.
Prof. Nagy, Slow Dentistry has come a long way. How did you observe the process?
Besides my academic career, I have been practising as a dentist for more than 40 years. I clearly remember that, at the very beginning when I opened my private office in Hungary, people used to measure the success of a dentist according to the number of patients who were queueing up in the waiting room. Then again, if a dentist could treat them in a very short time, he or she was considered a very good dentist. I know that it was almost half a century ago, but I still remember that, and it was obvious that we had a very long way to go. You can imagine the changes that have happened in my country since then, changes that were even more evident when SARS-CoV-2 began spreading everywhere in the world, but the changes started before that.
Is Slow Dentistry only important when it comes to specialties like endodontics or oral surgery, for example, or would any general dental practitioner benefit from this approach?
I would emphasise that the cornerstones of Slow Dentistry are beneficial for every single dentist, as well as dental hygienists and dental assistants. These cornerstones not only describe the rights of patients, but also help dental professionals to be able to maintain long-lasting quality work in a safe environment, which will elevate the standard of their private practice and boost their businesses probably more than advertising—what they have been paying for over the years.
The necessary time for patient appointments is vital for successful treatment, well-being, understanding and safety. Do you think patients realise that they have this power?
I think that, most of the time, patients in my country are still not completely aware of their rights. Sometimes, they choose a dentist according to the interior design of their dental offices (which I also find important) as an inaccurate measure of the quality of treatment.
Ten years ago, after spending a long time in dental schools, also overseas, I introduced a subject into the dental undergraduate curriculum called communication in dentistry. Communication needs not only skills but also time for patients and professionals. The idea of Slow Dentistry has helped me to reinforce this initiative of teaching communication in dental schools, which allows us to have the necessary and appropriate discussion before and throughout the treatment procedure.
Currently, you are the Slow Dentistry honorary global ambassador for Hungary. How did that come about, and what do you aim to accomplish through this role?
If you consider where Hungary started half a century ago, you would understand the great importance of this role. Also, dental tourism is very popular in our country. Patients arrive from another country for full-mouth dental treatment and typically remain for seven to ten days. I am very sceptical about the quality of the long-term success of those treatments.
I would like to introduce a collaboration between Slow Dentistry and the Hungarian Dental Association through which we could grant the Slow Dentistry badge to those dental offices which are working strictly according to Slow Dentistry’s principles. It could be a great help for both Hungarian and foreign patients in choosing their dentist in order to receive quality treatment in the safest environment.
Dr Miguel Stanley, who founded Slow Dentistry and wrote in Part 1 of this series that “The general public currently has no idea of their rights at a dental appointment.” What is your take on this?
Throughout my career, I have been able to work in different countries. Dental education has always been famed in our country, and there is a high percentage of practical learning opportunities for our students. After graduation, practitioners tend to forget what they learned about quality and safety and how to apply this. Slow Dentistry summarises and structures those most important rules that we have learned over the years and which every single dental professional can follow.
I am also hoping that, after easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, we as Hungarian dental professionals can invite Dr Stanley to a meeting to convey these extremely important messages of Slow Dentistry to our audience, because I believe that a personal discussion with Dr Stanley, who has amazing communication talents, always gives a unique and irreplaceable boost.
Editorial note: For more information about Slow Dentistry, please visit www.slowdentistry.com. This is the second article in a four-part series on Slow Dentistry and its principles and advantages. It was published in roots―international magazine of endodontics vol. 17, issue 2/2021.