Dentistry has seen a slow trend toward person-centred care (PCC), with most approaches developed by scholars who have tried to progress away from disease-centred care. Unfortunately, the perspectives and experiences of underprivileged people have not been considered in the development of these approaches. Our objective was thus to understand underprivileged people’s experiences and expectations about dental care and contribute to the development of person-centred dentistry. We conducted a qualitative descriptive study with a sample of 13 people living in poverty. We used a maximum variation sampling strategy and selected them among the users of a free dental clinic in Montreal, Canada. We conducted semi-structured interviews that we audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analysed. Our main finding is that participants wanted to feel human and respected by dentists. More specifically, they wanted to be more involved in the dental care process through quality time and empathetic conversations with the dentist. They also wished for an exchange of information free of technical terms and built on mutual trust. In conclusion, person-centred dental care models should emphasize empathy, trust, and quality care beyond technical skills. Clinicians should provide comprehensive information in dental encounters and treat their patients as whole persons.
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