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"Trouble" at the dental office: Dealing with workplace drama

June 2, 2022
Toxic colleagues, dirty offices, even bedbugs—over the years, we've heard it all. And we’ve rounded up some sound advice for dealing with many types of dilemmas.

Most dental offices have had their share of issues. From those that create common annoyances to others that make it legitimately challenging to go to work, through the years DentistryIQ has addressed dozens of concerns about life at dental offices.

Here, we’ve rounded up and updated some of the most popular Troubleshooters about office issues. As always, if you have a dilemma that you think an expert can help with, send your questions to [email protected]. To view more Troubleshooters, visit DentistryIQ.com and search "Troubleshooter."

My unruly staff

This dentist is unsure how to manage staff concerns that include an inefficient assistant and a hygienist who “does not care to have her schedule run late at all.” Dr. Chris Salierno addresses these pressing issues in a video reply.

Dentist seeks advice for managing his unruly staff

"Trouble" at the dental office: Human resources headaches

"Trouble" at the dental office: Managing patient drama

“I’m feeling pretty hopeless”

From a totally different point of view in the office, a hygienist would like her dentist to intervene in a bullying situation that’s gone on much too long, yet she says he refuses.

Dentist won’t get involved in messy staff issues

A special kind of toxic

This team member says her coworker is so toxic she wonders if there's extortion involved. How can this go on—and is there anything she can do about it?

‘Toxic’ coworker drags down whole dental office

Playing the favorite

In a similar vein, a reader is frustrated that the office's “entitled” assistant curries favor with the dentist-owner and plays up the fact that she’s been with the practice the longest. How can the aggrieved colleague share how it makes her feel in a way that her boss will understand?

‘Favorite’ dental assistant makes others miserable

“The last straw for me was…”

Dirty waterlines. Mice. Carpet in the operatories. No COVID precautions. It’s not easy being the whistleblower. Read the advice given to this hygienist who wonders whether she should report her former employer.

Should dental hygienist report filthy, no-COVID-protocol office?

Well, this is awkward

Conversations about personal issues such as bad breath are never easy, but sometimes they’re necessary. The straightforward advice from this consultant makes addressing these issues less awkward overall.

How to have the bad breath conversation with a coworker

Not ready to go

This 36-year hygiene veteran would prefer to retire on her own terms—not because of a pandemic-induced reduction in restorative dentistry. This is not an easy position to be in, and this RDH consultant gives thought-provoking, and thoughtful, advice.

Dentists want hygienist to retire and she's not ready

All in a day’s work . . . ?

A bedbug-covered patient is surely more than any dental professional bargained for. But there’s a lot more compassion—and being part of the bigger picture of overall patient care—in such a situation than might first meet the eye.

Patient covered in bedbugs visits dental office