Curious Ways of Dentists


synonyms: strange, odd, peculiar, funny, unusual, bizarre, weird, eccentric, queer, unexpected, unfamiliar, abnormal, out of the ordinary, atypical, anomalous, untypical, different, out of the way, surprising, incongruous, extraordinary, remarkable, puzzling, mystifying, mysterious, perplexing, baffling, unaccountable, inexplicable, irregular, singular, offbeat, unconventional, unorthodox, outlandish, off-center, aberrant, freak, freakish, deviant; 

Dentists are curious people. I once worked for a dentist who had a one on one talk with me about being my best at work. I told him that I thought my work was good and he replied to me, “Good is not enough. You have to be excellent!” He put the emphasis on EXCELLENT. To be fair, he was and still is an excellent dentist and it is in part because of him that I strive to be excellent in all that I do.

Words have power. There is no debating that. If you tell someone they are great, they will believe you. If you tell someone they suck, they will believe that too. Most of our thoughts and impressions come from the outside world. We become who we are by who we associate with.

Dentists are notorious for being “odd” and most dental hygienists have to work with them. There is no way around it; dentists continue to lobby for dental hygienists to be supervised by dentists and consequently, if we want to work, we have to work with dentists.

I wrote this article to showcase some of the behavior that goes on in dental offices because I truly think this behavior is bizarre. How good of a job do you think the employees will do given some of these scenarios? If you want excellence, you have to treat people that way.

By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.”


“I once worked for a dentist who would not let the staff speak. I wasn’t allowed to talk to him in front of the patient. I had to write things down on a sticky note. I also couldn’t talk to patients. I was allowed to use ONE paper towel only to dry my hands.”

“I worked for a dentist who liked to take naps in between patients on his office floor. I had to wake him up and he would tell me he didn’t feel like getting up. Then he would ask if I saw anything and tell me to dismiss them.”

“I was fired by a dentist AS HE FLOSSED HIS TEETH!”

“My patient had radiographs taken 5 years in a row with no decay so I agreed to skip radiographs. During the next patient the DDS yelled at me from about 5 feet away saying that I am never to allow patients to skip x-rays because it’s lost production…and especially from XYZ insurance, they pay well!! I was horrified and my poor patient apologized to me!”

“I temped at an office for two days where the dentist not once said hi to me or even talk to me. If I needed him I was given a walkie-talkie where I had to say if a patient was ready for exam or anesthesia. When he would enter my op he would bring in his chair and assistant who charted and suctioned while I just stood there. I was asked to go back the following week and as much as I needed the money, not worth it!”

“I was three months pregnant, working for an office that worked through lunch (which I was fine with and knew that when I applied for the job). I would get a quick five or ten minutes between patients to eat something and would often pull up a small stool we kept in the lab to sit on while I ate. The dentist told me she no longer wanted me sitting down to eat, I was to eat standing. This was just one example of her many weird and controlling ways.”

“I came to work one day and found a new hygienist setting up in my op. Needless to say the dentist didn’t have the guts to tell me I had been replaced!”

“I just did a working interview where I was not allowed to speak when the doctor was in the op…very weird- especially when the patient would ask me a question and I was given a dirty look when I tried to respond to the patient.”

“I used to have to put the gloves on the hands of one of the dentists…thought he was a neurosurgeon, I guess…”

“I was in our office restroom and my patient came 15 minutes early, my boss (DDS) then banged on the bathroom door and told me to “hurry up!”

Some of these scenarios are quite laughable, given that dentistry is not brain surgery and personally, shouldn’t be taken with an attitude of such aberrance. It doesn’t take much to be kind to each other.

I understand, many dentists are brilliant for their skills and talents but may not have social skills and business savvy to run a successful dental practice. They certainly don’t teach that in dental school.

Perhaps more dentists should seek help and hire a dental practice coaching management service.

We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.”

Steve Jobs

If you work for a “curious dentist” and need help in dealing with him/her, please refer to this article written by Diane Glasscoe Watterson, MBA, RDH

Stay safe, Annamarie

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