20 Ways Dental Patients Drive Dental Hygienists Crazy

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Dental hygienists adore their patients and look forward to treating them every day. Here are 20 actions by dental patients, though, that are sure to test the benevolent patience of any dental hygienist.

1) Being habitually late

We value your time as a patient and make that appointment specifically for you! I understand that sometimes things can’t be helped, such as an accident, road closure, etc. Just leave early enough to get to your appointment (you can always use Google Maps to refresh your memory on the estimated drive time). Please be on time so that it doesn’t impact your appointment or the appointments of the patients who follow you. I’m positive you would dislike having to split your appointment for a dental cleaning into multiple visits just because you chose not to be on time or be seen late yourself and have an abbreviated appointment because a patient before you was late.

2) Restroom break

When you have been sitting in the waiting room for several minutes, you then must use the restroom as soon as your name is called to go back. A dental appointment is tightly structured to try and address all of the patient’s needs in a rather short amount of time, so please take care of any needed “things” while you have those few minutes of time before your appointment. Talk to the front desk about insurance or address changes, use the restroom, and turn your cell phone on silent. Do all those things beforehand. With this said, we do understand if you have a medical condition that causes you to need to use the restroom immediately.

3) Being on your cell phone throughout your appointment

Rude! That’s all that comes to mind. Don’t try to text, Snapchat, carry on work conversations while we are performing your treatment. It’s highly annoying, dangerous to be competing for the space we need, and again just rude!

4) Having no clue about your own medical history

This is kind of a big deal. Please be an advocate for your own health. No one should know better than you what medications you take and if you’ve had changes since your last dental visit. Make a written list, put it in your cell phone, or whatever works for you. Just please be aware of the medicines you take and dosages. Your medications and medical conditions can affect your oral health and the treatment we give; we aren’t asking about your medical history to be nosey.

5) Refusing radiographs, perio charting, needed treatment

We only want what is in your best interest for your dental health, and that is why we recommend such things. Without them, we are unable to completely diagnose problem areas you may have and treat them early. “To see is to know. Not to see is a guess. And we won’t guess when it comes to your oral health.”

6) Telling us how much you hate being there

I compare this to “whining.” There isn’t a problem with the atmosphere of the office, staff treating you, the dentist, the fees, or the equipment used. Everything is as good as it could be ─ you as the patient just don’t like the dental experience, period. I get it, but I would never come to your home or place of business and talk about how much I despise being there (unless there was perceived wrongdoing that the office needs to address). I would keep it to myself, as should you. I realize some patients deal with anxiety issues about the dental office. Those are not the people this is directed at; it’s good for us to know if you are truly anxious so we can help reduce those stressors.

7) Pointing out your “crown”

You are certain we won’t notice it or haven’t seen one before. Trust me, the two, four, or more years of training and education that preceded us being able to be your hygienist have taught us what a crown is. If you have a problem with a tooth or an area of concern, please let us know which one, the symptoms you are experiencing, and point it out to us, and we will definitely try to help alleviate that issue for you.

8) Refusing to lie back, turn in our direction, or open your mouth

It’s like going to the mechanic because your engine isn’t working but refusing to lift the hood. Unless you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow you to lie back, move your neck, or open your mouth, please remember that you only have to do these things for a short period of time; we have to treat several patients per day in and day out. Dental hygiene is hard enough on hygienists’ bodies, and preventing injury to ourselves is something we must do, which is why we lay you back and ask you to turn your head. Otherwise, we can’t see, we aren’t acrobats, and things will be missed. Help us help you!

9) Saying how you bought the doctor’s car, home, or vacation

Sure, you contribute to the overall wealth of the office by being a patient, and we value you for trusting us with your care, but saying such things really comes off as tacky and petty. Put yourself in our shoes; would you like us saying that to you at your place of employment?

10) Lying about flossing

We know when you don’t! It only hurts you when you’re not cleaning interdentally daily, so no need to lie. Talk with us about why you don’t, and maybe we can come up with a solution together.

11) Not being compliant with our suggestions and tips

We offer our professional advice to you. You come to us for help, and you trust us with your dental care. So why not implement some of the things we recommend to help you take better care of your teeth and gingivae? It’s a win-win!

12) Acting as if saliva in your own mouth is toxic, so you gargle it at us in the back of your throat

It won’t poison you. I promise. Chances are your hygienist is on standby with the trusty suction, so there’s no need to gargle it. We definitely see it pooling in your mouth and will take care of it. If you prefer to be in charge of the suction so you can use it as you feel it’s needed, relay that to your hygienist at the beginning of the appointment.

13) Being extra needy

You want a pillow behind the neck, blanket on your lap, drink of water before and during treatment, earphones for your phone, having to repeatedly apply Chapstick, and shoes kicked off. Really? It’s a dental appointment, not a spa treatment or massage therapy. Get comfortable but be reasonable.

14) Being habitually early and then mad when you have to wait

On occasion, we may be early and able to get you back quicker, but it’s not a guarantee, so don’t get agitated that you are seen at your appointment time. (See points two, three, and four above; you could do some homework.)

15) Not showing for your appointment

That time is just for you. Another patient would love to have been treated if you weren’t going to be there. The dentist would love for our operatory chairs to be full, and we also prefer being busy with patients. So that is three people disappointed by your actions. We all have access to phones, texts, and email. Please use them if you can’t make it.

16) Having no clue about your own insurance benefits

Most dental offices are more than happy to help you in navigating this. You should learn a little about what the coverages are and what your part of the bill may be for your own knowledge.

17) Treating our front desk staff poorly

Don’t be sticky-sweet in the back, and then when it comes time to check out and pay your bill, you turn into a grumpus. The ladies or men up front have a job to collect payment for services rendered. Don’t make it ugly. Discuss financial issues prior to your appointment so that no surprises arise. Most offices will give patients a treatment plan with the cost included prior to scheduling. If there are any questions or concerns, please discuss them prior to scheduling, or a phone call to the office a few days before your appointment could help solve any concerns.

18) Complaining about the décor

We all like different styles, embrace something different. You may not like it, but you don’t live or work there. You are visiting, so be kind.

19) Wanting the radio on a certain station

Unless your significant other or child is receiving an award or speaking on the radio and you need to hear it and let us celebrate with you, let’s not worry too much about whether it’s on the country, rock, or rap station.

20) Lack of commitment to your dental care

We want to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime. It’s what we do day in and out. It’s our passion! Be excited with us and help us help you keep your teeth for all your life.

Again, we love our patients and helping them achieve oral and overall health. Sometimes, though, there are things patients may do, or not do, to make the dental experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

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