Dental Articles

We’re Not Your Bank or Your Babysitter

By Dr. Deborah Marynak

There are two issues that patients present that are my personal pet peeves. Let me start by saying we are not a bank and we are not their babysitter.

I had a new patient who’d had a facelift, brow lift, a nose job and a tummy tuck. She felt her teeth continued to make her look older and now wanted a great deal of cosmetic dental work done. I explained the process and possibilities to help her decide just how much work she wanted to undertake. At the end of her consultation, she decided to do a complete reconstruction of her mouth.

When the fee was presented, she asked what kind of payment options we had available in our practice. My Office Manager explained we provided two sources of outside funding; the patient calmly explained that she didn’t want to do any outside funding and wanted to know the terms of our office payment plans.

When she explained that as a Dental Practice, we don’t extend credit to any of our patients, the patient became quite angry, almost enraged. She felt that she was bringing thousands of dollars of treatment into our office and how could we not appreciate that enough to extend her credit.

Clearly this patient had no idea the cost involved in learning how to do this kind of work (you don’t do full mouth reconstruction right out of Dental School), nor the cost of producing it. I’m quite certain her plastic surgeon didn’t extend credit for his/her work and likewise, we are not a bank.

And equally annoying...

Why do some patients bring their little kids into the office and expect us to watch them while they’re in treatment? This has happened to me numerous times; the one incident that stands out in my mind is one I will never forget.

A young mother came into the office with an infant in a carrier and when she was called back to the operatory a Team Member asked her if someone would be coming to watch her baby. She told us to “just leave him in the hallway.” When we explained that we can’t let her just leave him outside the operatory door in the hallway, she asked “are you refusing me treatment?” We tried to explain that we were not refusing treatment; we just could not leave her baby unattended in our hallway.

She then asked if the person at the front desk could watch her baby while she saw the Dentist. Again, we told her that we couldn’t...wouldn’t watch her baby for reasons involving liability. We suggested she reschedule her appointment at a time when she had a sitter to watch the child.

We get credit from banks, babysitters watch our children and dental offices do dentistry...any questions?

“Common sense is seeing things as they are
and doing things as they ought to be.”

― Harriet Beecher Stowe