By Theresa Pablos, DrBicuspid.com associate editor

June 24, 2019 -- If you'd rather text patients than meet them in person, you might be a millennial. Dental students are far more likely to prefer texting peers and patients, according to research presented at the 2019 International Association for Dental Research (IADR) meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

With smartphones, computers, and social media, dentists have an ever-growing array of communication options at their disposal. Erica Kleinbaum, DMD, a student researcher who recently graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, surveyed the school's faculty and students to see if communication preferences varied between generations.

The respondents ranked text, email, phone, and face-to-face communication by their order of preference. Of the 229 respondents, dental students were significantly more likely to prefer emailing and texting patients and peers, while faculty preferred speaking in person.

Dental students were also more likely to expect faster responses than faculty members. Students anticipated a turnaround time of three to six hours, while faculty expected a 24-hour response time.

Dental students and faculty agreed on some communication preferences, though. Neither generation highly ranked using the phone, and both felt most comfortable communicating with those around the same age.

Based on the data from Tufts, "there is a significant association between respondent age, who they feel most comfortable communicating with, and the technological methods that they prefer to use," Dr. Kleinbaum concluded. "Future studies may assess the various communication methods' effectiveness on measures such as patient response rate."


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