10 ridiculous things people say to dentists and team members

Here are 10 ridiculous things that people say to dentists and team members:

  1. “Ugh – I could never stick my fingers in someone else’s mouth. It’s gross!”

Which is usually followed by…

  1. “…but if you don’t mind, I think I chipped a tooth. Could you take a quick look?”

Sure! I’ll be glad to give you a free, ungloved, professional opinion in public!

  1. “Why is dental school four years? Is there really that much to know?”

Of course you idiot! There are 32 teeth, and we learn eight per year!

  1. (When sitting down in the dental chair) “I just had lunch and I didn’t brush…”

Glad I’m not your proctologist….

  1. “I hate needles. I hate dentists.”

Maybe you should have thought of that when you were feasting on sugar and not brushing or flossing…

  1. “I’d rather have another baby than get this root canal!”

Just let me know what you decide so I can adjust the chair properly.

  1. “There wasn’t any pain before you did the filling, but now my tooth hurts. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten that done!”

Hey buddy – if you had some diseased tissue in your arm bone and an orthopedic surgeon drilled it out and replaced it with a synthetic material, wouldn’t you expect that to hurt for a while?

  1. “I don’t want any x-rays.”

Great! How about if I just do the entire exam with a blindfold on?

  1. “I paid for your Porsche, doc!”

No you didn’t. You paid for my extreme professional expertise, intense difficult education, huge overhead, the write-off from your cheap-ass insurance, and a zillion other things. I think a modest profit is pretty reasonable. Besides, it’s not my Porsche, it’s the lawyer’s next to us.

  1. “I guess I just have soft teeth. It runs in my family.”

Actually, a soft brain runs in your family.

Pretty amusing – but what’s the point?

Patients (and other people) say ridiculous, annoying and stupid stuff to us all day long. It goes with the territory. But it’s our job to let these types of comments roll off our backs and give our patients the very best we can offer.

So the next time someone says “Nothing personal, but I hate dentists!” – instead of saying what we would like to say (e.g. “Nothing personal buddy, but I hate assholes!”) suck it up and say something like – “Well – it’s my goal to make your treatment here as comfortable as possible!”

“Hey doc – I paid for that Mercedes!”
“Thanks – it drives beautifully!”

And so on and so on. Treat your patients respectfully at all times, no matter what they say. And maybe one day soon you’ll here this…

“You know Doc, I used to hate the dentist, but I actually enjoy coming here!!”

The “Cadillac” of dental practices – is that a big deal? Maybe!


Those are the numbers that Carl Sewell, of the esteemed Dallas Sewell Cadillac dealership, once crunched. It’s what he discovered was “the lifetime value of a loyal customer” as relates to automobiles purchased and services provided.

The strategy behind the number?

He wanted to compel his employees to become “owners” in their departments by brainstorming ideas about how to “astound” the company’s customers.

Initiatives for outstanding customer service included painting the floor of the service garage a (classy) glossy white and dry-mopping the repair floor for each service drive-in, etc. 1

Your take-away?

Small changes focused on improved customer experience create new service benchmarks.

What would $332,000 of Patient Service Value (PSV) look like in your dental practice?

Good question. Your answers must go beyond the standard C-T-T-M approach of most dental practices.

C-T-T-M? You know…your lobby lure (ahem) amenities – Coffee-Tea-TV-Magazines!

Come on, you gotta do better than that. We’re talking Lifetime Patient Value (LPV) here.

It’s time to convert your dental practice tire-kickers.

Since we’re on the automobile dealership theme here – they’re the $1 Exam and X-ray patients. Those who watch their mailbox for the latest mailer the day they develop a toothache.

You’ll greet ‘em…treat ‘em…treatment plan ‘em…and guess what? Never see ‘em again, right? (Face it, your lobby coffee didn’t do the trick.)

Crank up your P-S-V (Patient-Service-Value)

Lose the dollar value at this point. Instead get practical and explore how the value-principle creates some momentum.

At your next team meeting or huddle talk about how you can increase your PSV. And implement this new mindset at every level of your practice TODAY:

Everyone thinks like an owner” and no one acts like an employee.”

For example –

Front desk “owners” stand-and-greet with eye-contact when EVERY patient signs in.

Clinical “owners” have a concierge attitude chair side (“Are you comfortable…can I get you a blanket…?”).

Remember…small things.

Dr. “owners” see the patient’s emotional desire behind the treatment (tissue please). No, seriously, tap into the deeper reason(s) they’ll agree to your diagnosis and treatment plan and help them understand the real value of their investment.

Turn your “owners” loose. Create a running PSV list.

We’re talking LPV (Lifetime Patient Value). Might not add up to $332,000 but why limit yourself?



Source: James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, Jr., Leonard A. Schlesinger, The Service Profit Chain – How Leading Companies Link Profit and Growth to Loyalty, Satisfaction, and Value, p. 65.

Do your patients have a “Bill Of Rights?”

Do your patients have a “Bill Of Rights?” Everyone deserves one! How about something like this?

Dr. Jane Dylan’s Dental Patient’s Bill Of Rights
  1. You have the right to be personally greeted and treated with the highest level of respect and care by our team of dental professionals.
  2. You have the right to have your dental treatment fully explained to you in plain English, and to have any questions answered to your satisfaction.
  3. You have the right to have your dental treatment performed with first-rate materials, techniques, and technology.
  4. You have the right to be as comfortable as possible before, during and after any dental treatment.
  5. You have the right to understand the cost of treatment before it takes place, including an estimate of insurance coverage if applicable.
  6. You have the right to a clean, safe environment, including hospital grade sterilization of all dental instruments.
  7. You have the right to be seen as soon as possible should a dental emergency arise.
  8. You have a right to be educated in the proper methods to keep your teeth and gums healthy, including brushing, flossing, and anything else specific to your situation.
  9. You have the right to be treated by a team of dedicated professionals who are current in their licensure and strive to learn the latest and most important findings in the fields of dentistry and health care.
  10. You have the right to remain silent when we have our gloved fingers and three suction tubes in your mouth!

Patients love to know that they are in control and that you have their best interest in mind. So why not give them a “Bill Of Rights?”

Are we targets?

Have you noticed that there are more products, consultants, courses, seminars, supplies, gadgets, and services than EVER that are being marketed to you?

Just last week one of us counted 64 emails recommending that we buy stuff ranging in price from $17 to $85,000.  All in the name of making us “more productive” and “more successful.”

And there are webinars, targeted Facebook ads, live streaming videos… there is no end.

If you took everyone’s advice on what they recommend for your success you’d certainly be bankrupt.

Is the reason there is so much stuff being thrown at you because you are an easy target?

Perhaps yes.

OK, so knowing this, what do you do?
First thing is to take a step back and take a deep breath. We have the answer.

Secondly, do not buy anything on impulse. No matter what someone tells you, you do not need that “thing” today. We have found sleeping on important decisions is always a smart move.

Third, decide what you want. What would you like your practice and your life to be like? What are your visions?

A very effective way we have found to figure this all out is through goals.

Yes, goals. They work. We have both been tremendous believers and practitioners of goals for decades!

“Setting goals is the most powerful thing you can do in your life.”
~a very wise person
Docs ask us all the time if we have a goals worksheet that we can share. The answer is yes. Please CLICK HERE to get your copy. Totally free. A gift from us.

Dedicate a small amount of time every day to work on your goals and you will see them becoming reality sooner than you can imagine!

So remember, don’t live your life impulsively. Slow down and plan.

Both of us have always been fans of getting back to basics. We are simple guys. Because simple generally works best. And there are few or no headaches with simple.

Why you won’t join the AAFD. What the heck is the AAFD?

Last week we got an email from a dental organization called the AAFD. (It actually was called a different four letters, but we changed them slightly to be nice.)

We didn’t join the AAFD. You didn’t join the AAFD. Why not?

They were offering great pricing with a large discount. They sent a nice email explaining all of the excellent benefits AAFD members receive. They told us the AAFD was packed with leaders, innovators, and friends.  So what went wrong?

They never bothered to tell us what the hell the AAFD is!!
What are we supposed to do? Make up our own meaning? The American Academy of Fertile Dentists? Already Aging Frail Dentists? Albanian Association of Future Dictators? Antique Alcoholic Fiduciary Democracy? We just don’t know.

This frequently happens when you are so close to something or so wrapped up in something you overlook the fact that outsiders (in this case, non-members) have no idea what you are talking about.

Of course members and administrators of the AAFD know what it stands for. They live it. They love it. They inhale it. But the folks they are trying to appeal to have no idea what they are talking about.

So learn this and learn it well.

You should NEVER assume people (and this means your patients) know ANYTHING!

They don’t know what their insurance covers. They don’t know that treatment needs to be paid for at time of service. They don’t know what “crown” or “periodontal” means. And they certainly don’t know what “you have a five millimeter pocket on the distal of tooth # 30” means! (Yes – we heard a dentist say that to a patient once.)

So don’t be like the Academy of Assuming Friggin’ Dentists. Because surely you know what happens when you assume.