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fine line between thorough cleaning and too rough

I’ve been at my office for a year and a half. I recently had a patient complain of me being too rough whom also have had some emotional issues this day. When I first started at this office I had a lady walk out saying I was hurting her whom has severe gingivitis. The previous dentist did cleanings “prophy cup only”. Although I have almost all patients tell me how gentle I was. It seems everyone has sensitive gums… Any tips? 🙂



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4 Answers

No matter what you will find patients that find you either rough or gentle. A lot of the time patients fears or anxiety will drive their experience of you being too rough. If they are very emotional that day no matter what you do they will think you are being too rough. I like to talk patients through their visit (explaining what I’m doing) to help calm their fears. If you are concerned with possibly being too rough, pay attention to how you are adapting your instruments to make sure you are not causing unnecessary tissue damage. Be confident in your skills and know you cannot make everyone happy.

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There are some patients that you have to adapt a very gentle touch with. When I have patients like this and I do find calculus that needs to be removed I stop and explain that I will be applying a bit more pressure. I make sure I am doing as few strokes as possible and then always thank them for their patience with me. They usually do okay when they know what you are up to. 🙂

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I agree with Sue. This can be a tough situation. I always try to educate my patient; I have them feel the explorer go over calculus and then again when smooth. Sometimes this helps them understand and appreciate thourogness.

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I feel like this is what I’ve learned so far… Dentistry is not one size fits all, and the care that we provide will not fit every patient’s ideals either. When never having met a patient before, it can be hard to tell what they want. I’ve had patient’s that I could sense were extremely sensitive and they have said to me “wow, you are so gentle, that was amazing. Thank You.” And I’ve had the other end of the spectrum for a woman that seemed very put-off by me from the minute she sat in my chair (she had heavy supra calculus also and she knew this) – and she left and called back saying that I made her lose a filling and I was the roughest cleaning she ever had. — She came in and no filling was lost, thankfully the dentist smoothed it over with her and defended my work… I took this to heart rally bad at first, but then again, I’ve seen both ends of that spectrum to the point that you just need to know you can’t totally please everyone unfortunately. It does help, if you know their preferences, to put a note in the chart so you can be aware next time.

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