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How to Be an All-Star Dental Patient

Is your dental team happy to see you?

If you’ve ever worked in any customer-facing role, there are probably some customers who put a smile on your face every time you saw their name or they walked through the doors.

Maybe it’s because they had amazing manners and “please” and “thank you” were a regular part of their vocabulary. Or perhaps they were always cracking you up with their latest adventure or a perfectly-timed joke. Or maybe it was none of those, but rather the things they did rather than what they said.

Whatever the reason for your mood-boost, your dentist has probably experienced the same thing with certain patients. Are you one of them?

Why is it important to have a good relationship with your dental team?

Common sense says it’s important to be on good terms with the people who regularly have their fingers poking around in your mouth.

But more than that, the team behind the masks and tools are people, too.

It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “I’m paying all of this money. They should be the ones worrying about making me happy.” While that is true and your dentist does want to make you happy, a great professional relationship takes effort on both sides.

What can you do to make sure that you establish and maintain great rapport with your dental team? Here are a few things some of our most positively memorable patients have in common.

Be polite and friendly

This can be as simple as smiling when you arrive and saying thank-you when you leave. It doesn’t take much to put a smile on your dental team’s faces.

Be respectful of time

Just like you may have a set schedule at your job, your dentist does as well. While things may unexpectedly come up, you should always try to schedule appointments when you know you’ll be on time. Even being 5-10 minutes late cuts into another patient’s appointment time.

If your dentist or hygienist is running late, there is usually a good reason. It could be anything from the patient before you being late or their appointment took longer than expected. Keep in mind that if your treatment becomes more complicated, your dentist and/or hygienist will do everything they can to give you the best results, and they’ll take all the time that is needed.

Return phone calls or emails

If you miss a phone call or an email from your dentist, make sure you return their message. Chances are, they’re calling you to confirm your appointment, and you responding to their messages lets them know that you know.

Try to avoid rescheduling your appointments unless you’re sick

Sometimes things come up that make it impossible to get to your appointment, and that is fine. But when you cancel your appointment because you “changed your mind” or you “don’t want to go anymore,” it messes with your dentist’s schedule. In most offices, time is set aside specifically for your care. When you cancel at the last minute, or worse, don’t show up, this can throw off their entire day.

On the other hand, if you are sick, call your dentist to reschedule. No one wants to work in your mouth when you’re not feeling well, especially when there is a risk of them becoming sick. Gloves and masks only go so far in protecting against illnesses when working in your mouth.

Stay off your phone during treatment

Most teams run a tight schedule. If your routine appointment takes longer than usual because you’re answering texts, scrolling through social media, or making phone calls, your dental team and the patients whose appointments are pushed back are not going to be happy with you.

Practice good oral hygiene all the time

This should go without saying, but please brush your teeth and rinse your mouth well before you sit in the chair. Arriving at the exact time your appointment is set to start and informing your dentist that you have to brush your teeth probably isn’t the best way to become their favourite patient.

If you really want to get in your dentist’s good books, make sure that you’re brushing and flossing regularly. Not doing this means the same food and bacteria is sitting in between your teeth until you go for your next appointment. While your dental team may not mind seeing you more often than necessary, you could easily save your money and take care of your teeth at home. If you’re not sure how to do this, all you have to do is ask.

Pay your bill

This should go without saying, but there are some people who “forget” their credit card at home. Before you leave your house, make sure you have an appropriate payment method and even a backup in case that one doesn’t work.

Become familiar with your dental benefits

While the fine print can be hard to decipher, it is not your dentist’s job to know what your insurance covers. That policy is between you/your workplace and your insurance. The team will do their best to explain some things to you if you don’t understand it, but they don’t have all of the details.

Trust the team

In an age where there is so much information available online, it can be easy to feel like you’re an expert on a subject. But unless you have studied extensively and you have years of experience under your belt, you probably don’t know as much as your dentist. When they tell you something, they’re doing it because they believe it’s the best thing to do in their professional opinion.

Understand that different dentists will give you different advice

Just because the advice multiple dentists have given you is different doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Dentists have different experience, training, and knowledge and skill of different techniques. Keep in mind that if one dentist suggests less treatment than the others, it doesn’t mean that it is better. In most cases, less treatment means more treatment and more money needed down the road.

Understand that sometimes treatment doesn’t work

If your teeth are showing signs of wear and tear, chances are it has to do with lack of care or other undiagnosed conditions. Teeth, real or fake, are not guaranteed to be 100% effective. Despite your dentist and their team doing their best, they cannot guarantee a perfect outcome.

Your dental team truly wants the best for you. In our office, we see patients as our family, and the best way to keep a family healthy is mutual respect. Just like in typical families, sometimes there is bad news that you may not want to hear, but it doesn’t mean that you should take your frustrations out on the people who are trying to support you.

If you’re looking for a dentist who will go the extra mile to give you the best treatment possible and who will make sure your concerns are always heard, reach out to Dr. Andrea Stevens.

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