How to Know You’re a Bad Dental Patient

Top Six Signs You May be a Bad Dental Patient

We have patients and even acquaintances tell us all the time that they are “bad dental patients”.  We wonder if your definition of “bad” is different than ours is.  It seems like the people who tell us that are typically just nervous dental patients.  There is nothing wrong with being nervous about dental visits.

Our version of a “bad” dental patient doesn’t really have anything to do with anxiety or fear.  Our version of “bad” relates more to problems of personal negligence or a lack of consideration for our team.

Sign #1: You Blame Us for Your Dental Problems.

We love preventive dentistry.  We constantly make recommendations for changes in oral hygiene or specific products that will help you prevent the development of new dental problems.  We also recommend certain preventive treatments like dental sealants or professional fluoride treatments that help strengthen your teeth and stop cavities before they start.  We do all of this because 95% of dental problems are preventable.

It is impossible for us to cause your cavities.  We cannot give you gum disease.  So when you become angry with us for telling you that you have new cavities or gum disease, you are not being a good dental patient.

Sign #2: You Wait Until Something Hurts to Call for an Appointment.

We understand that it is easy to forget about your teeth.  Just as many people only see a doctor when they are sick, many people treat their oral health the same way.  But waiting until something hurts means you are not making any effort to prevent dental disease.  By sticking with consistently scheduled professional teeth cleanings and evaluations, you are less likely to develop a toothache and more likely to have healthy teeth and gums.

Don’t get us wrong!  If you have a toothache, we want you to call because we want to help you.  It’s just that, compared to those who visit the dentist regularly for consistent checkups, you are not being a “good” patient.

The problem with waiting until something hurts is that it gives you a sense of urgency that we may not be able to accommodate.  We try to hold openings in our schedules for emergencies every day, but they fill up quickly.  Calling with an urgent need for an appointment can cause a scheduling crisis in our offices.  Instead, call as soon as you notice anything feels “off”.  This helps us plan ahead and give you the best service possible.

Sign #3: You Don’t Show Up for Appointments or Show Up Late.

Now, this is one that really does drive us crazy.  The reason we have scheduled appointments is to treat each of our patients with excellence and punctuality.  We know that your time is valuable, and we want to honor it.  When you no-show for a scheduled appointment, you are keeping someone else from getting his or her needed dental treatment or perhaps preventing us from seeing someone with an emergency who could have been accommodated if we knew you weren’t coming.

If you do show up, but you are twenty minutes late, you force us to work faster and rush through your visit.  You also make us late for every patient who is scheduled after you.  If your dentist is ever running late for your visit, it is very likely that the patient or patients before you were late.  Because it not only affects us but also our other patients, we really feel frustrated with no-shows and lateness.

Sign #4: You Don’t Follow Through with Recommended Treatment, and then Call After Hours with an Emergency

So you’ve been to see the dentist and have a diagnosis of some dental disease.  Your dentist recommends certain treatment in order to stop the disease from worsening into a dangerous and painful infection.  Then you do nothing.  After a period of time passes, the disease does progress into a dental abscess or other urgent problem.  For some reason, it always seems to become urgent when the office is not open.

Again, don’t get us wrong.  We are here to care for you in an emergency.  We just believe that our job is to prevent as many dental emergencies as possible.  We do this by informing you of any dental problems with emergency potential and urging you to address them as soon as possible.  When you choose not to follow through with treatment, in a way you are choosing to gamble on a dental emergency.  That is definitely not a “good” dental patient thing to do.

Sign #5: You Wait until We Get Everything in Place to Begin Working, and then Ask for a Bathroom Break.

This happens all the time.  Patients wait until we are geared up and ready to begin working before asking to go to the restroom.  We always recommend using the restroom before you get settled in the dental chair.  We do completely understand that there are certain medical conditions requiring you to need a restroom more frequently than average, and we have no problem accommodating you.  Simply let us know if this is the case.  We will make a note of good times for you to take a break.  There are several points throughout a dental appointment when the dentist and/or dental assistant will have other tasks to perform and give you a break.  We are happy to coordinate these with your needed bathroom breaks.

Sign #6: You are Extremely Anxious or Fearful and Don’t Tell Us

Now usually, we can tell if this is the case.  But some of you hide it really well and seem to show no anxiety.  That hidden anxiety may manifest itself in fidgeting throughout the procedure or flinching at very inopportune times.  If you feel nervous, please let us know.  We can certainly take extra steps to ensure you are comfortable as we work.  We sometimes mistakenly assume that you are not nervous because you did not say so.  In these cases, we may go about “business as usual” without stopping to tell you what will happen next or what to expect throughout the procedure.  We truly value your comfort and will work diligently to ensure it.

How to Be a “Good” Dental Patient

You can basically take all of the above signs and do the opposite in order to be a good dental patient.

  • Take responsibility for your oral health. Understand the need for great home care in addition to consistent dental visits.  Follow through with recommendations on preventive dentistry that will help you stop the disease before it starts.
  • Commit to consistent dental visits so we can catch any problems in their earliest stages. This helps prevent toothaches and other emergencies.  Also, if you do think you are developing a problem, call at the first sign of abnormality rather than waiting for severe pain to occur.
  • Show up on time for your scheduled dental appointments. If you cannot make it, call us to let us know as soon as you know you won’t be able to come.  Giving us the earliest notice possible helps us make room for other patients in need.
  • Treat your existing dental disease as recommended. The sooner you follow through with treatment, the more likely you are to save time and money, and the less likely you are to need an after-hours emergency visit. Those are expensive!
  • Go to the bathroom as soon as you get to our office. Tell us if you have a condition requiring frequent breaks.  We are happy to work that into our timing of the treatment.
  • Tell us if you are anxious or fearful. Let us know how we can make you more comfortable so that you can sit through your visit without a lot of fidgeting or flinching.

Has This Blog Convinced You that You Need to Get Back on Track with Consistent Dental Visits?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule professional teeth cleaning and dental evaluation.  We would love to help you get back on track with consistent dental visits and preventive dentistry so that you will not become one of these “bad” dental patients.