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Patients Answer the Question Why I Hate My Dentist


Understanding what patients dislike about going to the dentist can help inform practices on how to do better.

Patients Answer the Question Why I Hate My Dentist

By Svitlana / stock.adobe.com

A couple of weeks ago, a survey was done with 150 people being asked why they love their dentist. In the spirit of continuous process improvement, they were also asked why they hated their dentist. I know, those are words that make us cringe, but it is worthwhile to hear what they are thinking. After all, when you know there is a problem, that is when you have the chance to do something about it.

Here are the compiled feelings that your patients might have.

  1. “My doctor's hours: M-W 8-5 and Thursday 8-2 with no Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays! No weeknight or Saturday appointments - he's got it good!”
  2. “I seriously dislike getting x rays and always feeling like I'm gagging.”
  3. I don’t like questions when I’m being worked on. Only want him to tell stories.”
  4. Leaning back in the chair, my stomach gurgles!”
  5. “When the tools touch my teeth that are sensitive.”
  6. “Getting my teeth polished with the gritty polish it is a texture thing.”
  7. Don’t like the hygienist whose technique consistently hurts…which is why I request a specific hygienist.”
  8. Decor is usually horrible or cutesy tooth themed.”
  9. “Getting Novocain shots.”
  10. The cost- wish more dentists would barter or trade professional services.”
  11. “What I hate--EVERYTHING!”
  12. The sounds.”
  13. “The smells.”
  14. Discomfort during cleaning.”
  15. Fear of the need for a root canal.”
  16. Novocain shots!”
  17. Pricey procedures. Insurance doesn’t cover a whole lot of costs.”
  18. “I get anxiety going to the dentist - will they find something wrong.”
  19. I don't like people in my mouth.”
  20. Too personal.”
  21. Way too proactive with care (feels like they are looking for things to fix way before they are a problem).”
  22. Scheduling is too far out.”
  23. I don’t see the dentist for very long.
  24. Hate x-rays- always cut my gums on those paper wings.”
  25. “Getting oversold on things."

I think that it is sobering to hear what people are thinking but sometimes too afraid to verbalize. How does it make you feel? You may feel discouraged, angry, unappreciated, sick of the whole business, etc.. I didn’t write this article to upset any of you. Instead, I figured it would be a useful reminder of how we can’t make every patient love us. They may have their own personal issues such as anxiety or resentment for having to take off work to come for a cleaning. For some patients, the reality is that you can’t accommodate them. You may try to the best of your ability, but some things can’t change. Brainstorm what you can change. Even if it is as simple as acknowledging their anger when they learn what their insurance will not pay for. Empathy and compassion do go a long way. So do 3 little words…” I am sorry.”

Email me at diana2@discussdirectives.com and share with me how you feel reading this list. Then, share what, if anything, can be done. Even something small can make an enormous difference.

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