Humanizing clinical dentistry through a person-centred model

Nareg Apelian, Jean-Noel Vergnes, Christophe Bedos


The clinical approach in dentistry stems from a biomedical model of health that is anchored in positivism. This biomedical model was never explicitly developed or reflected on, but rather implicitly acquired as a product of historical circumstance. A reductionist understanding of health served dentistry well in the past, when health afflictions were mostly acute. Today, however, in the age of chronic illnesses, the current clinical approach is no longer adequate: patients and dentists are both dissatisfied, and there are problems with dental education and dental public health.


After a thorough review of the literature, highlighting the current state of the profession, we propose an alternative clinical model upon which updated approaches can be based. We call this model "Person-Centred Dentistry". Our proposed model is rooted on the notion of sharing of power between the dentist and the patient: a sharing of power in the relationship and epistemology. This leads to an expanded understanding of the person and the illness; a co-authoring of treatment plans; and interventions that focus not only on eliminating disease but also on patient needs.


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