dental patient

As hygienists, we all have that one patient who can act a bit ghoulish at times. I wanted to celebrate Halloween by asking you, my fellow hygienists, for a few of your “spooky” patient tales. Whether it is the Jack O’Lanterns who refuse to complete their treatment and orthodontics, or the “vampires” who insist they floss daily, even though their gums tell a different story, I collected some of the best entries to share with all of you!

As much as we all love and appreciate our patients, here are some of your favorite – and “freakiest” – patient tricks and treats:

1. Spitting on the floor. At my office, we call that a “deep clean” when you do a patient cleaning and then have to wipe the floor. 

2. Exaggerating their flossing habits. Stating “I floss daily” as blood runs down their mouth like Dracula is never a good look.

3. Knitting during a cleaning. I had a patient who insisted upon knitting while I was trying to clean her teeth. She stopped me several times throughout the appointment to count her stitches.

4. Brushing their teeth in the bathroom before their appointment. I, too, like to wash my clothes before I take them to the laundromat.

5. Refusing to swallow. It’s truly amazing how some patients’ saliva suddenly turns toxic, and they can’t swallow.

6. Taking a Zoom meeting. I’ve made my operatory chair a green screen just in case my patient needs to take another Zoom meeting during our appointment. 

7. Cleaning expensive dentures in the dishwasher. I actually would have recommended soaking your dentures in Polident over putting them in the dishwasher.

8. Gagging on the panoramic bite stick. You want to bite it, not swallow it.

9. Keeping dentures in dirty pockets. (You put those in your mouth, yuck!) My trick-or-treat bag is full of hair, crumbs, and knick-knacks that fall onto my floor while my patients fish their dentures out of their pockets.

10. Taking off their shoes. What’s that smell I am starting to get through my mask? Oh, their stinky feet.

11. Making last-minute cancellations (literally). “Sorry, I don’t have time for periodontal probing today; I have another appointment to get to. But let me show you photos of the grandkids dressed as Spiderman and Cinderella.” 

12. Not taking gum disease seriously. Your perio breath could scare off any ghoul or goblin, but yes, at least your teeth are white. 

13. Complaining about how they have to sit. I had too many patients complain about how far back they get leaned back. So I replaced my operatory chair with an inversion table. Having the patient completely upside down actually does make cleanings a lot easier. 

We love our jobs as hygienists, and our patients are what really makes us happy to come into the office every day. They may unintentionally make us laugh or playfully roll our eyes, but this is what makes each and every appointment so special and unique and keeps us on our toes. To my fellow hygienists and our loyal patients, Happy Halloween!

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