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Community Dent Health. 1999 Dec;16(4):256-61.

Cultural barriers to successful communication during orthodontic care.

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Department of Dental Public Health, St. Thomas' School of Dentistry, London, UK.



To determine to what extent barriers related to culture and language, and how inappropriate expectations might impede orthodontic care, among Pakistani Muslims when compared to white Caucasians from similar socio-economic backgrounds in Bradford, UK.


Semi-structured interviews.


Dentists were interviewed in the clinic. Parents and children were interviewed separately in the waiting room or in adjacent rooms depending on availability.


Four dentists working in the Community and Hospital Dental Services, 30 children and 10 parents of white and Pakistani origin.


Among the white Caucasian groups, three-way communication involving parents, children and dentist enhanced understanding, supported orthodontic treatment and reinforced the need for good home care. Among Pakistani families communication was primarily two-way, involving the dentist and the child. Parents and families had limited understanding of the process and were unable to offer a comparable level of support that would benefit their children most. This can place additional burdens on the Pakistani child patient and requires a very positive approach from the dental team.


There is a clear need for chairside support, through patient advocates or interpreters, as well as the provision of appropriate educational material to match parents' educational needs on behalf of their children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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