Dr Mark HassedAs I mentioned over the past two weeks, when you're a young dentist starting out you are desperate to be successful. You take on any and every patient who comes along.

Children — no problems. Dentures — bring 'em on. Phobic people — step right up!

But, when you gain a few years of experience you realise that some people cost you a lot of stomach lining. In fact, there are some people you'd be wise to avoid.

Here are the final two of my list of six dental patients to avoid.

Patients who move constantly and won't keep their mouth open.

If you're like me you take pride in your work — you like to do a nice job.

But, certain patients make that absolutely impossible.

Within a second or two of starting work they act like they're drowning and start flailing around. Or, they want to rinse every 5 seconds even though there is nothing in their mouth. Or, even though the tooth is totally numb they suddenly and without any warning pull their head away. Or they close their mouth constantly so that you become like a broken record saying: “Open your mouth…”, over and over and over. Or they move their head side to side and up and down constantly for no apparent reason. Or their tongue puffs up like a tennis ball the moment they open their mouth.

A simple filling becomes an epic event at the end of which you are like a rung-out dish mop and running 20 minutes late.

Life is too short.

Patients who fail multiple appointments.

Practice overheads are typically more than 50% of gross revenue. That means that if a patient turns up for every second appointment and fails the other one you're doing their work for no profit.

I was once in a practice where a patient had failed 14 appointment over the course of 2 years yet they continued to give them more appointments. 14 appointments equated to over $5,000 of lost revenue. They would have been far better off to give the patient a cheque for $1,000 as a reward for going elsewhere.

Some people are chronically unreliable. They think nothing of not turning up.

And, remember the old expression: “A leopard can't change its spots.” The only way to convert an unreliable person into a reliable one is to demand a deposit on all appointments.

But, most unreliable people will refuse to pay a deposit. I once had a lady plead with me not to charge her a deposit when the had failed her two previous appointments. She said those appointments were just aberrations and she would definitely turn up next time. Foolishly I relented.

Guess what. She failed once again.

Upcoming Seminars

The Art of Case Acceptance

Learn how to explain proposed treatment to patients in a way that is quick, easy, successful and low stress.

Perth 2 December

The Art of Efficient Dentistry

Learn how to get more done in less time with less stress and consistent high quality. Create the high-performance team.

Dates to be advised.

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