Southern Ontario Dental College

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How to Deal with Difficult Patients: A Guide for Dental Hygienists

Posted in Articles, Dental Hygienist, Dentistry.

Starting a new career in dentistry is a great feat, but surviving day-to-day has its challenges. Most of those challenges come in the form of regular patrons.

There are right and wrong approaches to how to deal with difficult patients.

Believe it or not, challenging patients do a lot of good for businesses. They spark an appreciation for easy-going patients. And, trying patients cause businesses to focus on reevaluating their customer service models.

The key is finding a good middle ground that helps you build morale with a difficult patient. You don’t want to lose business because a patient has a complex personality.

If dealing with tough patients hinders how you do your job, keeping reading. Here is a guide to how to deal with difficult patients for hygienists.

Be Proactive. Call Patients Ahead of Time

Not every patient shows up on time for their appointments. This makes it difficult when you’re working on a tight schedule.

Understand that life happens, and some people handle experiences different than others. Showing up on time for an appointment may not be a top priority for them. Get ahead of these types of situations.

Make reminder calls and send texts to patients who are not as reliable as others. Ask them to arrive earlier for their appointments so they show on time. 15 to 20 minutes is a normal window.

Listen and Take Notes

No patient is the same. So don’t ever rely on memory to help you deal with regular patients, especially difficult ones.

Use their charts wisely. Listen to their complaints and struggles, then make notes. If a patient has high anxiety, schedule more time for the appointment.

This gives you space to show compassion and use interpersonal skills to ease the patient’s worries.

Reacting the right way from a previous experience shows the patient you heard them. They’ll be more apt to listen to you, knowing you’ve listened to them in the past.

A Proper Introduction Upfront Is How to Deal with Difficult Patients

One of the biggest problems dental hygienists face is dealing with patient’s lack of respect for their profession. That’s brutally true when dealing with the age gap.

Older patients sometimes see younger professionals as inexperienced. For that reason, they treat them with less respect than they do the dentist.

It’s easy to see the dentist as a professional because they’re considered doctors. But other personnel is the office have degrees, knowledge, and experience in the field.

Make a proper introduction to your patients during the first meeting. Give them a peek into your education and professional background. Some patients tend to have more respect for you when they know you’re well-trained and qualified.

Deal with It

There’s no set procedure for how to deal with difficult patients except trial and error. Get ahead of the struggle.

Build a rapport right away with every patient. Listen to them and makes records to help you better assist them during other visits. The important thing is to keep trying and never take things too personally.

Want to become a hygienist but can’t afford it? Take a look at our financial aid options and get on track with your new career.

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