Training your Dental Hygienists to Handle Challenging Patients

Posted by Kate Ranta on Nov 4, 2015 4:00:00 PM


Some patients are easier to communicate with than others. Whether you or your staff is at fault or not, there are several ways for your dental hygienists to successfully handle patients who have a complaint.

Stay Calm

It's not always easy, but advise your hygienists that staying calm is the best course of action. The patient should be spoken to in a slow, firm manner, and the dental hygienist should get right to the point. He/she should never raise his/her voice or say anything sarcastic, as both of these can make an already difficult situation worse. Instead, find out what the patient's solution to the problem is by asking, "Do you have ideas about how this problem can be resolved?"

Show Empathy 

Not all patients will be satisfied with extra attention and may become demanding by wanting to know things such as, "What's taking so long to develop my X-rays? or "Why can't you start my teeth cleaning now?" Often when patients act like this it's out of fear, and it's best to hear them out. The hygienist should empathize by saying something like, "I know this is upsetting to you."

Bring in a Third-Party

Dental hygienists should know to bring in a third-party if they find themselves getting angry or losing control of the situation. Whether it's you, the hygienist, or a staff member, this adds a fresh pair of eyes and ears which may go a long way in resolving the problem.

Practice Real-Life Situations

A great way to train your dental hygienists to handle difficult patients is to set up mock situations. You can have another staff member act as an angry patient. Go over several scenarios and give feedback on how the hygienists handled each situation. This is also a good time to remind them to document a patient's complaint in his/her chart along with the steps that were taken to resolve the issue.

If the dental hygienists on your staff follow your training and these tips, your office should run smoothly and patients will leave with a smile on their faces!

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