Dental Office Etiquette

So I have wanted to write this little article for some time . Keeping positivity flowing in a small business environment can be a struggle occasionally . Sometimes we as dentists have a tough time asserting ourselves .

So here are my 10 golden rules of good office etiquette .

  1. Be on time . I am not that dentist that double books patients . When I give you a full hour appointment it is just for you. When you show up 20 min late … regardless of traffic, sleeping in etc… you are cutting into the next patients time. Sometimes I choose to stress myself out and try to do what was planned that day if I still have enough time or can chose to do an easier filling let’s say . Other times I just have to reschedule to be fair to next patient . Either way, I’m not happy. If I’m running behind because of unforeseen dental complications I always let the next patient know . Respect goes both ways . Time is the most precious and valuable commodity.
  2. If you just had a meal, take a minute to brush or rinse your mouth before sitting down in a dental chair , that is if it’s at all possible . We understand if you’re rushing from work and trying to make it on time , but hey … a clean mouth is easier to work on and I always appreciate the effort.
  3. If you’re sick with the flu, have a fever or a contagious sore please call and change your appointment . If you’re only a little under the weather, a slight cold , that’s ok come in, we have very strict infection control protocol in place to prevent disease transmission between patients .
  4. Cancellation – aside from situations that are unavoidable, a car accident , sudden illness , please give us a call before 48 hours if you have to cancel to give us enough time to fill your spot in the appointment schedule . And being a complete no show is a big no no. One time might be forgivable . Twice is just disrespectful to the doctor, hygienists and staffs time .
  5. Cell phone usage . I am not a stickler for no cell phone usage whatsoever. I get wanting to play a little candy crush or check social media while you are in the waiting room or waiting to get numb . But please, while I am actually working in your mouth , hearing your cell phone go off over and over is very distracting. Worse than that, is if you hold your phone above our heads as I’m trying to drill, to text someone . Folks… I wish I were kidding . Not even the prime minister is that important, that he needs to text while there are sharp tools in his mouth. Also if you are in the room with your child patient, be present and helpful or please wait outside in the waiting room if you’re going to be watching distracting videos.
  6. Try not to smoke right before you come , and don’t apply a fresh coat of glossy lipstick either. That stuff gets all over my mirror/instruments and can smear onto your face .
  7. Communicate and ask questions. I assume you understand and are ok with the dental explanations I am giving you if you don’t speak up . I love inquisitive minds and people who ask questions . You should know in detail what is going on with your medical and dental health . You are your body’s advocate , speak up and ask me questions . I will always answer honestly.
  8. If your visit was unpleasant in any way , please let myself or a staff member know so we can address your concerns immediately and change our actions moving forward . On an opposite note , if it was great, we love praise and it will probably make our day so … compliment away !
  9. Don’t rush the appointment by constantly asking “how much longer?” or stating “I’ve got to leave early”. Asking won’t make it go any faster. Your dental health and teeth are my priority for that hour. I do not rush neither should you. It’s only stressing everyone to be put on a condensed timetable .
  10. People answering the phone have feelings to. Be kind, inform us of your needs, be clear if there is a problem and we will happily address any questions. We understand sometimes that a patient can be in pain and that it can make them grumpy, but truly it’s not the receptionists fault . More likely than not, the pain stems from the patient not coming in for regular dental visits to detect potential problems early. Irregardless, we are here to assist you and manage any problems and to restore your mouth to its optimum health. Being pleasant makes the whole exchange a thousand times better for all of us. If you leave a message speak clearly , state your name and contact information, best time to call back and reason for your call. Just a “hey it’s me, call me back “ may not automatically ring a bell as to who you are .
 I’m sure if you reached the end of this article, nodding your head in agreement to the rules , it means you probably are that golden patient that never needs to be reminded of office etiquette to begin with . But just in case I still have a reader that I educated and enlightened… hope this was a good read.  Nothing personal , this wasn’t written with any one patient in mind . I’m sure patients can write an etiquette article for dentists and doctors too. Lol