ADAA View Course

Communication in the Dental Office: Part 1 - Verbal and Non-Verbal (AGD 550)

Presenter: Betty Ladley Finkbeiner, CDA-Emeritus, BS, MS


There is a two-fold purpose for the dental practice; perform as a health care delivery system and practice as a "for profit" business. Much of the success of the dental  practice will depend on communication with patients and among the dental staff. Communication is the process of transmitting information from one person to another. In the dental office this will vary often between the dentist(s), the patients, the dental team, and the community the office serves. Regardless of how a message is delivered, either verbal, non-verbal, or written, each dental team member is responsible for providing a positive impression. The first and continuing impressions involve much more than just physical appearance. Perceptions are built of professionalism, attitude, compassion, and good, quality communication. The patient who comes to the dental practice expects the dental staff to communicate not only in a professional manner but with proper grammar and diction. In many dental practices today it may require that some members of the team be bilingual.


Betty Ladley Finkbeiner, CDA-Emeritus, BS, MS is a Faculty Emeritus at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, MI where she served as Chairperson of the Dental Assisting Program for over three decades. Betty began her career as an on-the-job trained dental assistant for the late Joseph S. Ellis, DDS in Grand Rapids, MI and later became a CDA and an RDA in the state of MI. She received Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the School of Education at the University of Michigan. She has served as a consultant and staff representative for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation and as a consultant to the Dental Assisting National Board. She was appointed to the Michigan Board of Dentistry from 1999 - 2004. 

Ms. Finkbeiner has authored articles in professional journals, authored several Continuing Education classes, and co-authored several textbooks including: Practice Management for the Dental Team, Comprehensive Dental Assisting: A Clinical Approach, Review of Comprehensive Dental Assisting, and a handbook entitled, Four-handed Dentistry: A Handbook of Clinical Application and Ergonomic Concepts. She has coauthored videotape productions including Medical Emergencies for the Dental Team, Four-handed Dentistry, An Ergonomic Concept, and lectured to University of Michigan dental school classes and many dental meetings. Currently retired, she continues to write and provide consultant services in ergonomic concepts to practicing dentists throughout the country and to evaluate online educational courses.


Upon completion of this course, the dental professional should be able to:
• Define business etiquette.
• Describe the impact of verbal and non-verbal communication on a dental practice.
• Identify words and phrases to avoid in verbal communication.
• Apply the basic rules of good grammar.
• Identify common non-verbal cues used in the dental office.
• Explain the hazards that can be avoided in using non-verbal cues.
• Explain why listening is an important part of effective communication.
• Identify helpful techniques for improving listening skills.
• Identify barriers to communication.


The ADAA has an obligation to disseminate knowledge in the field of dentistry. Sponsorship of a continuing education program by the ADAA does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular philosophy, product or technique.

The ADAA cautions participants taking this course on the hazards of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into their practices.

Credits earned upon completion of this course may be used to meet DANB’s Recertification Requirements.


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