The top five types of things patients hate but don't want to tell you


Patients say the craziest things. But, what about the things they are thinking… but not saying? Patients say the craziest things. But, what about the things they are thinking… but not saying?

Patients say the craziest things. But, what about the things they are thinking… but not saying?

These are the things that get repeated to their families and friends, but for some odd reason, not to us. The sad thing is that we need to know what they are thinking. We need to know exactly what they hate about us and our practice. (Toughen up people. You can handle it. You just need to find out what “it” is.)

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I took a poll to find out what patients hate about the dental practices that they go to.

Continue to the following page to see what they hated most.


When they are in pain or uncomfortable...

Irrational fears

“What happens if ‘the thing’ that scrapes my teeth slips… and rips off the side of my face?” I need to be reassured that the dentists and hygienists know what they are doing, but don’t want to come off as irrational or panicky.

Dry mouth

When your mouth is really dry and the suction is sucking all the air out of your mouth, and you need water.

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Being too rough

You’re in my mouth, being rough, but I feel like you get upset if I complain.


When you’re deathly afraid of needles but the dentists assume you're OK - I don’t feel like I can speak up when the dentist is so nonchalant about it!

How about a blanket or nice heated chair?

I am glad the dental team is being kept awake, but it is freezing in these rooms.


When they have problems with the treatment...

Being scolded or reprimanded for not caring for my teeth.  

Yes, I know what I should be doing, but having someone scold me does NOT help.

Hiding the laughing gas

Is it bad to ask for that? Why don’t they offer that at every visit? Gas me up!

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Being kept ignorant

Why don’t they tell me what they are doing along the way?

One-way thinking

Not willing to use other options to save my tooth-but I’m not the professional, so how can I question the experts?

Invasion of my mouth.

Staff/dentists enter my (personal) space as if we've been friends for years, when I don't know them personally. 



When your office environment doesn't meet standards...

My dentist's small waiting area

It’s usually very crowded, with small chairs squeezed too close together-which is especially awful when someone is coughing or sneezing.

Upselling services or products

Finding a good dentist that isn't constantly trying to up sell me on services that may make me "more perfect" or socially desirable but aren't physically necessary. I'm happy with who I am, yellow, cracked, fake teeth and all!

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Not being called when running behind

I don't want to be there to begin with, and having to wait makes me nuts.

The revolving door

Why do they keep changing hygienists on me?

Referring me to a specialistbut not communicating with them or forwarding my chart information 

What am I supposed to do?

Change the pictures on the ceilings at least once every two years

I have to stare at it for an hour. Would it kill you to change the pictures? It's always beaches, seahorses, cruise ships, and sea turtles, designed to relax me. And that's nice the first two or three times, but after a couple years… enough!


When they have problems with the staff...

Garlic breath

I know dentists and hygienists now wear masks, but nothing can stop this odor! Garlic breath is nasty, repulsive and odorous, especially when a dentist or hygienist is breathing right in your face!

Over friendly and chatty staff

I like that you’re trying to be friendly but… I just want to get in and get out!

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Rude staffing

On the flip side, this seems to be an epidemic? Is there no happy medium?

Silly questions

I hate when they ask me, “Are you feeling okay?” when they see a tear coming down my face.


When money issues arise...

Billing issues

Sometimes it feels like complaining won’t do any good! One person who was polled told the following story: “I had an appointment scheduled for a checkup but had to cancel that morning, because the previous night my husband had broken his leg. I had to take him to surgery that morning. I was billed, because it was not 24 hours in advance.” Policy is policy… but shouldn’t there be some exceptions?

Explanation of procedures/costs.

I wish there was a price list prior to the procedures-does asking about prices make me come off as cheap?

And finally, the most important issue:

Hate that I am too old to get a ring from the treasure chest.

There should be no ageism here! 

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I had no idea how much pent-up rage some patients have! There were a few that had fantastic experiences with their dental teams, but the majority had stories-stories that you need to hear. I am not saying that you can “fix” all of these issues; what I am saying is you need to think about this and be open to making changes. Your patients have spoken… are you listening?

If you have any thoughts on this topic, email me at . Looking forward to continuing the conversation.

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