show blocks helper



Sign In

show blocks helper



How to Deal With Difficult Patients

How to Deal With Difficult Patients

Table of Contents

Any healthcare appointment can cause stress, but a visit to the dentist’s office can be incredibly challenging. Anxiety can heighten the emotional response and produce the “difficult” patient, the “1% of patients who cause 99% of the problems.”s

When faced with unreasonable, aggressive, and demanding patients, dental professionals must draw on their experience, empathy, and professional communication skills, and for that, preparation is critical. 

Dealing with aggression and challenging behavior in the workplace is very stressful and can affect the entire team.

Sharing successful approaches with colleagues and exploring resources in advance helps prepare the dental team to work effectively with patients in these situations.s


That difficult patient 

At some point, all dentists will face a difficult patient. Despite best efforts, a patient may be angry or upset with the care they have received or something they have been told. Sometimes they even become angry for no discernible reason. 

Dental experts should know how to respond regardless of why the patient is difficult. While an appropriate response can completely defuse a situation involving a problem patient, a reply interpreted as insensitive, inappropriate, or unprofessional can result in a professional complaint or worse. 

Complex interactions can be distressing. They can catalyst complaints and grievances, but dealing with them effectively can improve patients and dental team members.


The behavior in these days 

In the current circumstances, it is understandable that tensions are a little higher than usual; we have all felt the stresses and strains brought on by the pandemic, whether due to concerns around the spread of the virus itself or personal circumstances such as finances or grief.

This means that your team may experience an increased level of aggression from patients. It should also note that staff members themselves may experience elevated stress levels. So managing difficult patients can become more complicated than usual.

That’s why dental experts need to know how to respond to these situations and what to do to minimize the risk to themselves and others. 


What to do with difficult patients

All practices should have appropriate policies and training in place. In addition, it is worth considering courses on the subject as the pandemic can quickly worsen the situation. 

Practicing dentistry poses specific challenges, and one of them is dealing with patients who are unhappy to be at the dentist. Whether their discomfort is caused by fear, pain, or financial stress, it can be a challenge to break through their resistance and get them to trust you.

Every practice has difficult patients. They’re the ones who test your patience, the ones who make your team nervous, and the ones who elicit an internal groan when you see their names on the schedule. But dealing with difficult patients is part of the job in a dental practice, and with the correct information, they don’t have to be a headache.


Tips to hopefully help you resolve the situation

  1. Effective listening and communication

Listen to your patients’ concerns and speak calmly and in terms that are easy for them to understand. Above all, reassure them that you care about their concerns. Let them know that you want to address and alleviate those concerns during the current and future treatments. 


  1. Explain all the procedures

Explain the procedure before you perform it. Explain what you are going to do in a calm voice. Once the procedure is completed, review what you have done and what has been accomplished. This will allow the patient to understand the entire process and deepen their comfort level in the future.


  1. Pay attention to how patients react

Regularly ask if they are doing well throughout the procedure and ask them if they need a break. This will allow the patient to control what is happening; dental anxiety can often be attributed to losing control over what is happening in a susceptible area.


  1. Keep calm and carry on

It is always essential to keep calm and measured. The worst thing you can do is get angry and start a shouting match or engage in a heated email exchange. This will only add fuel to the flames. Avoid raising your voice or talking over the patient. Instead, ensure that the tone of your communication is polite and respectful.

That being said, if a patient is being abusive, you and your staff should not tolerate such behavior. If there comes a time when you need to ask an abusive patient to leave, be respectful and measured while doing so, but do not be afraid to take the steps that are necessary to protect yourself and your colleagues.


  1. Understand that it is not personal

There are many reasons why a patient may become problematic. Whatever the reason, it is rarely personal. Their reaction is simply poor, and you’re the one caught in the middle. 

It is entirely understandable that, after a difficult interaction, one of the first considerations is whether or not to remove the patient from the practice list. If you decide to no longer see a patient in treatment, to the extent possible, you should arrange to transfer the patient’s care or offer a referral to a colleague. 

If a patient is violent toward any member of the practice staff or is threatening to the point that there is a concern for their safety, Dental Assets recommends that the incident be reported immediately to the authorities in such a case. 


How to diffuse a difficult interaction 

Difficult interactions can be distressing. They can be a catalyst for complaints and grievances, but they can eventually lead to a better outcome for patients and dental team members if they are effectively avoided.

  • A warm, friendly greeting and a smile
  • Eye contact and open body language
  • Active listening, with open questions and no interrupting the patient
  • Exploration of the patient’s values, concerns, and preferences
  • A discussion of all options and offering explanations
  • The patient being involved in the decision-making. 


Dentists who know how to deal with their patients 

A patient in pain and discomfort or unable to complete treatment on their timeline can quickly become demanding and difficult to treat.

Difficult interactions do not only take place in the office. Once the situation is understood, the patient should be directed to an appropriate person, e.g., the practice manager, as soon as possible. 

Having a calm conversation with someone who demonstrates authority and understanding may be enough to calm the situation and get the patient to accept that their behavior was inappropriate. 

That’s why at Dental Assets, we make it a point to train our staff on how to deal with difficult patients and any similar situation so that they are trained experts in customer service and can provide quality care.  

If you are interested in learning a little more about these topics, do not hesitate to visit our website:, where you will not only find information, equipment, materials, and staff ready to meet your needs.


All about Dental Scaling

No Comments

Dental scaling tools are the actual “work horses” in the dental hygienist’s instrument kit. The quality, type, and size of the scaler you select will…

Read More »
Infection Control

Infection Control In The Dental Office

No Comments

Infection control procedures are actions taken in healthcare facilities to prevent the spread of disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends infection control…

Read More »

Trusted by over 45,000 dentists in the Indian Dental Association of California


User Agreement

Access to the confidential information, and acceptance of this Confidentiality Agreement, is available only for the limited purposes and uses set forth in our Terms and Conditions. Other uses are strictly prohibited. This Confidentiality Agreement (this “Agreement”) is entered into by and among Dental Capital Resources Group, LLC (“DentalAssets”), the owner of the confidential materials (“Owner”), and the party seeking to access such information (“You,” “Your”), and is effective on the date executed and accepted by You. DentalAssets, together with retained brokers and auctioneers, provides marketing and auction services to Owner as to certain of Ownerâ€TMs real property assets or commercial mortgage loans secured by real property (eac”hP, raoperty” and together the “Properties”), and in connection therewith makes available to You Confidential Materials (as defined below) related to the Property; You desire to access the Confidential Materials for a Property in connection with a possible purchase or desire to extend commercial financing for such Property (the “Transaction”), and, in consideration of the privileges granted to You in accessing such Confidential Materials, and for other good and valuable consideration, You agree as follows: Confidential Materials. “Confidential Materials”means all technical information, the website and any and all content associated therewith, marketing information, financial statements, tenant information, appraisal and title reports, intellectual property, environmental statements and information, and/or any other business information, regardless of whether such information is marked as “confidential” or “proprietary,” and regardless of whether such information is in oral, written, electronic, or other form. This Agreement applies to all Confidential Materials provided to You by DentalAssets or Owner, irrespective of whether such Confidential Materials are provided before or subsequent to the date of this Agreement. Confidential Materials shall not include any information which: (a) You can demonstrate was in Your lawful and unrestricted possession prior to its disclosure by DentalAssets or Owner; (b) is generally available to the public by acts other than Yours; (c) is or has been received lawfully and in good faith from a third party (except where such third party is in a protected or confidential relationship with DentalAssets or Owner), where You are not aware, after inquiry, that such third party is bound by any obligations of confidentiality relating to such information; or (d) has been independently developed by You or any third party (except where such third party is in a protected or confidential relationship with DentalAssets or Owner), without any reliance on or reference to the Confidential Materials. Use Limitations. You shall not, and shall not permit any third party to, copy, alter, modify, photocopy, or in any other way reproduce any product or materials containing or constituting information from the Confidential Materials, without the prior written consent of DentalAssets and/or Owner. You acknowledge that You acquire no ownership, intellectual property, or other rights in the Confidential Materials. You may review the Confidential Materials for the sole purpose of evaluating whether to purchase or extend financing to the Property. Confidential Material may not be relied on by You or any third party for any purpose, including, but not limited to, securing financing necessary to purchase the Property. Access to, or use of the Confidential Materials, for other purposes is strictly prohibited. You agree that neither You, nor Your agents, shall communicate, or attempt to communicate with any preparer of the Confidential Materials, unless You obtain the prior written consent of both DentalAssets and Owner. Disclosure Limitations.By using our website, You agree to hold the Confidential Materials in complete confidence, unless You obtain the express written consent of both DentalAssets and Owner to do otherwise. You shall not permit any third party to disclose, produce, publish, permit access to, or reveal any Confidential Materials to a third party without the express written consent of both DentalAssets and Owner, except that You may disclose such Confidential Materials to Your officers, directors, employees, advisors, and other representatives (collectively the “Representatives”), where the Representatives require knowledge of such information in connection with the Transaction. When You disclose the Confidential Materials to Your Representatives, You agree to inform the Recipients of the confidential nature of such Confidential Materials, and the Representatives shall similarly agree to be bound by the terms of this Agreement. You further agree that You will not communicate with any owner, investor, tenant, or other party having an interest, whether direct or indirect, in the Property or the Transaction, without the prior written consent of DentalAssets and Owner. Maintenance of Confidential Materials. You shall take all reasonable measures to protect the secrecy of, and avoid disclosure and unauthorized use of the Confidential Materials. Without limiting the foregoing, such measures shall include at least those that You take to protect Your own highly confidential information. Where You suspect or know of a misuse, unauthorized disclosure, or other release of the Confidential Materials, You agree to notify both DentalAssets and Owner as soon as reasonably possible. Destruction of Confidential Materials. At the request of Owner or DentalAssets, where such request occurs at any time during or after the term of this Agreement, You shall (a) cease use of all Confidential Materials; (b) destroy all Confidential Materials without retaining a copy of any such materials; (c) promptly deliver to DentalAssets or Owner all other Confidential Materials, together with any copies thereof, in Your possession, custody or control, or alternatively, with the written consent of Owner or DentalAssets, destroy all such Confidential Materials; and/or (d) certify all such destruction in writing to Owner or DentalAssets. Notwithstanding the foregoing, You may retain a list that contains general descriptions of any Confidential Materials returned or destroyed in order to facilitate the resolution of any disputes after the Confidential Materials have been returned. Commercial Mortgage Loans. Where the Transaction is for, or involves, the purchase of a commercial mortgage, You shall not contact the borrower or its representatives or affiliates and You have waived all rights to access or inspect the collateral property. Disclosure Required by Law or Court Order. In the event that You or any of Your Representatives are requested or required to disclose any Confidential Materials, You will provide DentalAssets and/or Owner with prompt written notification of such request or requirement and consult with DentalAssets and/or Owner as to the advisability of taking legal steps to resist or narrow such request. You further agree that, after notifying and consulting with DentalAssets and/or Owner, if it is determined that You are compelled to release any of the Confidential Materials, You shall disclose only such Confidential Information as is legally required. Failure to do so will result in Your being liable for any immediate or future harm or damages incurred by either DentalAssets or Owner as a result of Your failure to comply with this provision. Your Liability. You agree and acknowledge that, in the event of a breach of this Agreement by You or Your Representatives, DentalAssets and Owner shall be entitled to exercise any and all legal or equitable rights and/or remedies to which they are entitled. A delay or failure on the part of DentalAssets or Owner in seeking such rights and/or remedies does not constitute a waiver of the same, nor does any specification in this Agreement of any particular remedy constitute a waiver or prohibition of any other remedies in the event of a breach of this Agreement. Indemnification. You and Your Representatives acknowledge and agree to indemnify DentalAssets and Owner from all losses, claims, expenses and/or damages resulting from any breach of this Agreement. You also agree to release DentalAssets and Owner of all claims arising from the Confidential Materials, or information that should have been contained therein. Legal and Regulatory Compliance. You acknowledge that You will comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and ordinances, whether they be federal, state, local or international, regarding Your use of the Confidential Materials. Governing Law; Venue. Applicable federal law and the laws of the State of California, without regard to principles of conflict of laws, will govern this Agreement and any dispute that might arise between You and DentalAssets and/or Owner. You agree that venue for any such disputes shall be located in the state and federal courts located in California. You waive any right to a claim that such forum is inconvenient. Disclaimers. DentalAssets AND OWNER EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL EXPRESS WARRANTIES WITH REGARDS TO THE CONFIDENTIAL MATERIALS. THIS DISCLAIMER INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, WARRANTIES OF NON-INFRINGEMENT, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND MERCHANTABILITY. DentalAssets and Owner shall not incur any liability for costs, damages, or otherwise as a result of Your use and/or receipt of the Confidential Materials. DentalAssets and Owner do not, prior to the execution of a definitive contract or purchase agreement, make any guarantees, promises, covenants, or otherwise regarding any Property. Term. In the event that You purchase, or extend commercial financing for, any Property, this Agreement shall terminate upon the execution of all documentation necessary to consummate the Transaction. If You do not consummate such Transaction, this Agreement shall terminate one (1) year from the current date. Termination. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this Agreement may be sooner terminated (a) for cause, upon the immediate destruction or return of the Confidential Materials to DentalAssets or Owner or (b) without cause, upon 30 daysâ€TM written notice; provided, however, that this Agreement will be terminated immediately upon breach by You or Your Representatives. Upon the occurrence of such breach, DentalAssets or Owner may demand the immediate return or destruction of the Confidential Materials. Assignment. DentalAssets or Owner may assign this Agreement without notice to You of such assignment. You are prohibited from assigning Your obligations or duties under this Agreement, unless You obtain the prior written consent of DentalAssets and Owner. This Agreement shall bind and inure to You and Your successors, assigns, personal representatives, heirs, and executors. Modification. This Agreement may only be modified by written agreement, signed by all of the parties. Entire Agreement; Severability. This Agreement constitutes the entire understanding between You, DentalAssets and Owner, with respect to the subject matter hereof. Should any term of this Agreement be held invalid or unenforceable, that provision shall be struck, and the rest of the Agreement shall remain in effect. Entire Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement on this matter, and supersedes all prior agreements and negotiations, whether oral or written, between the parties hereto. Electronic Acceptance: By clicking the "ACCEPT" button, You accept and agree to the terms of this Agreement. Such electronic acceptance shall be binding and enforceable pursuant to Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act ("E-Sign Act"), Title 15, United States Code, Sections 7001 et seq., the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act ("UETA"), and applicable state laws. Updated: January, 2019