Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 06 Bad Breath 1

Troubleshooter: How to have the bad breath conversation with a coworker

June 15, 2021
It's that awkward conversation no one wants to have, but this coworker's coffee/perio breath has got to stop. How can her concerned coworker handle the situation?

Do you have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed? Each week the experts on Team Troubleshooter will tackle those issues and provide you with answers. Send questions to [email protected].

QUESTION: Please help me address this issue. We have a temp hygienist who is helping us during a transition at our office. The problem is her coffee/perio breath. She is a very friendly and helpful person. How do I address this issue? Help!

This is never an easy conversation. Having said that, we need to be sure that we address this situation respectfully and tactfully. Before speaking to her, I recommend that you confirm whether this is happening regularly. If it is, then remember these tips as you prepare to confront her.

1. Pick a private location to speak with her without anyone else around to overhear the conversation.

2. Let her know that you need to speak to her about a sensitive topic, and then request permission to do so.

3. Do not tell her that someone else asked you to speak with her. Remember, this will probably be embarrassing for her. The last thing you want to do is have her think that the entire office is talking about her.

4. Be tactful when addressing the issue, do not attack her. For instance, don't tell her that she has bad breath. Choose instead to address this in a way that expresses concern for her health. "I've noticed that you frequently have halitosis. Perhaps it would be a good idea to let the dentist check you for any areas of concern."

5. Offer to help, and then thank her for allowing you to speak freely. This will help put her at ease.

It's never easy to have these types of conversations. Think about how you would like to be spoken to in this situation and go forward accordingly. If you ultimately do this with compassion and with her best interest at heart, you have done the right thing.

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Do YOU have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed? Send your questions to [email protected] for the experts to answer. Responses will come from various dental consultants, as well as other experts in the areas of human resources, coding, front office management, and more. These folks will assist dental professionals with their various issues on DentistryIQ because they're very familiar with the tough challenges day-to-day practice can bring.

Originally published in 2015 and updated regularly.

About the Author

Team Troubleshooter

This weekly column on DentistryIQ features questions from everyday people who work in dental practices, who have issues they would like addressed by the experts. Those who regularly take the time to answer questions include Rebecca Boartfield, Patti DiGangi, Dr. Chris Salierno, Laura Hatch, Karen Daw, Jill Townsend, Lisa Marie Spradley, Shelley Renee, Judy Kay Mausolf, Robin Morrison, Paul Edwards ... and the list is growing.

Send your question or issue for an expert to address to [email protected].. You'll be glad you did.