Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 06 Embarrassed 1

Dentures, boob jobs, and throw up, Oh My! Cringe-worthy moments in the dental office

June 15, 2015
In the dental business, you deal with people. So it's just a given you'll face a few embarrassing situations, some more embarrassing that others, of course. Think smelly dentures, a variety of body parts, and ..... patients who want you to kill them? Read on for the most embarrassing moments faced by your peers.
Meg Kaiser, Associate Editor
Awkward and cringe-worthy moments. You chuckle, you cower, but usually you just turn a few shades of red. Most people try to avoid embarrassing situations at all costs. But dental professionals are in the people business, and dealing with people means awkward and embarrassing moments are going to occur, period.

Looking back, those moments make great conversation, and almost everyone has a story to tell. Some of these awkward moments in dental practices are surprisingly similar. Some, though, are eyebrow raising and “Are you kidding me?” unique.

We asked and you shared. What was your most cringe-worthy moment in your dental office? Read on to confirm what you already knew — that you’re not alone in facing these face-burning moments between you and your patients. People are weird, funny, and uninhibited.

CONSIDER READING:25 awful things dental professionals actually said in front of patients

Surprisingly, a similar awkward moment was reported by several dental practices. Apparently, many women who have had their breasts enhanced like to show off their “boob job.” Even while many of you respectfully said, “No thank you” to their offer to show you their enhancement, you had to view the results anyway, whether you are male or female. And you unanimously agreed that this was a very cringe-worthy moment.

Another rather common (and unfortunate) occurrence is patients throwing up in the office. This comes about due to nerves, coming in the office sick to begin with, or due to taking X-rays or impressions. Most of the patients were so embarrassed this allowed you to turn the focus from your own embarrassment, and you came through to calm them down. But keeping extra scrubs on hand is recommended.

Read on for more of your awkward stories…

• This happened 40 years ago. My long hair was pulled back behind me, but it fell forward when I leaned over too far and got caught up in the handpiece belt. I got stuck! The gentleman patient laughed very hard as he took out his pocketknife and cut me loose.

• One of my patients took out his dentures and his eyeball fell on the floor. He thought it was funny, but I about died.

• My boss once asked a patient if he had been seduced by the surgeon. He said “seduced” twice before he realized he meant SEDATED.

• We had this little old lady throw her shirt up over her head and yell "Weeeeee" as her chair was laying back.

• I had a patient with long hair down to her waist, and she took it down while I was typing on the computer and not looking. I proceeded to roll my chair back and it rolled onto her hair! It got stuck in the wheel and she kept yelling, “Ow, ow, ow!” To top it off I was in hygiene school and everyone in the clinic stopped and stared.

• One of our patients whipped out her dentures while simultaneously pulling off her wig and said, "My dentures aren’t the only things that are false about me. I have alopecia, too." My assistant and I were at a loss for words.

• While discussing one patient’s medical history, I had to listen to every single detail of her menstrual cycle. Yep. I had to stand there and nod my head while my assistant, who was behind the patient, struggled to keep a straight face.

• One of our patients was upset when his brother was arrested, thus ruining his vacation plans. He said his brother was basically "a good guy" but he "did something stupid" and got arrested. I'm thinking, "Probably sold drugs" and said something like, "Well, we all make mistakes." Yeah. This basically “good guy” was arrested for planning to kidnap a woman, chop her up, and eat her. And all I had mustered was, “We all make mistakes.”

• A patient came in as an emergency. His "emergency" was phlegm in the back of his throat and he wanted the assistant to suction it out for him. We could barely keep straight faces.

• Our most cringe-worthy moments are when patients feel the need to clean out their entire upper respiratory system in the cuspidor. Yes, we still have cuspidors, and they're nasty!

• A patient once asked me if I would kill him. Jokingly I replied, “I'll try not to!” He replied, “No. I'm serious. Will you kill me?” I politely refused.

• One of our patients took her fleece shirt off over her head and the t-shirt she was wearing underneath came with it. We were both mortified.

• One of my patients felt compelled to show me her hysterectomy scars. Another patient showed me where she managed to get shingles, and it was not in a very good place. There were more, but I won’t go into detail. I must have a sign on me that says, "Show me your embarrassing body parts."

• Once when I was walking a patient out to the lobby I thought he was giving me a side hug, so I hugged him back. It turned out he was actually just reaching across me to hold the door open. Whoops.

• My patient had her tongue removed because of cancer. The doctor walked in and didn't realize she was the patient I had told him about and said, "What, cat got your tongue?" It was awful!

• I had a patient with an irritation on her hard palate. I asked her if she remembered eating or drinking anything that may have irritated it. She said, "No, not that I can recall. And I haven't been dating anyone, so I haven't had anything else in my mouth." TMI!

• I was preparing an elderly male patient to sit in the chair lift to be transported to the dental chair. As I bent over to help him he said, "You have lovely breasts." My response? "It's all for you baby.” I know elderly individuals sometimes lose their filters, but what on earth was my excuse?

• As one of my patients was leaving after her appointment, she walked over to give me a hug and stuck her tongue in my ear! What?!

• I had a patient who was completely bald except for a few super long hairs he combed forward. During a cleaning, I noticed a single long hair lying over his face. I was worried because I thought it was one of my hairs. I tried to remove it, and to my utter surprise it would not come off. The patient politely said that unfortunately, there was nothing to pick at there, and he smiled! I wanted to die right then and there.

• I demonstrated correct flossing to a patient. She kept flossing between Nos. 2 & 3, and then pulled out the floss to smell it. She kept saying, “I can't help smelling this and it smells so bad.”

• A patient and I were discussing TV shows. I said, "My husband and I like to watch porn…" I stopped midsentence because I meant to say "Pawn Stars" and I froze for a second. The patient replied, "Yeah, me and my girlfriend like porn too." I tried to explain I meant “pawn” but it only made things worse.

• An older patient was slouched in the operatory chair and I asked him to sit back to be seated upright for X-rays. He said, "It hurts to sit on my scrotum." There was nothing to say to that.

• I went out to the lobby to call a patient back to my operatory. I saw an older gentleman waiting, and I said his name and made eye contact. He looked at me with deer-in-the-headlight eyes. I said his name again and he replied, "Not me lady." Then an older woman stood up and said, "I think you're looking for me, sweetheart." I had read the name completely wrong and assumed it was a man. I felt so stupid.

• One of my patients brought her little girl with her to her exam. The child was telling me about her hamster, which I assumed was a toy or an imaginary animal. Then she pulled a half dead hamster out of her pocket right next to her mother’s head while I was trying to clean her teeth!

• I had a transsexual patient who became a woman. I mistakenly called her a he in front of the doctor. So embarrassing.

• A Jewish patient of mine and I were talking about the high cost of new clothes for going back to school. I said, "That's why you send the kids to Catholic school, so you just have to buy uniforms." The second it came out of my mouth I realized what I’d said.

• As a new hygienist back in the early ‘80s, I moved my operator chair back and found my patient's toupee attached to my smock button. Awkward! So I just rolled over and put it back in place.

• This happened to me in dental school many years ago. An older woman who was my operative patient insisted that I use her chest to place my hand instruments so I wouldn’t have to reach over to the counter.

• A patient took out her upper denture and it had food all over it. She started licking it off.

• As a consultant, I often interview team members. I asked one receptionist what her favorite part of that day was, and she blurted out, "When it's time to go home!" She immediately turned very red. Needless to say, she was terminated soon after.

• This was a matter of a language barrier that was quickly resolved. A young Vietnamese dentist was new to the country and working as an assistant, and as she was taking alginate impressions she would lean over patients and say, “Let me see if you are getting hard yet.”

• A team member held a chart in her hand and looked at two men and one woman in the reception area and asked, “Which one of you is Florence?”

• A patient came into the office because her denture needed “fixing.” The dentist could smell something foul. He asked the patient what was wrong and she said her denture hurt when they put it in several years ago, so she placed a piece of bologna as a cushion in the denture and never took it out. Needless to say, when the denture was removed, the smell caused the whole office to have to close.

• We had a patient who told us he was a dog, and he would growl when we came into the operatory. When we told him we needed to do some work in his mouth, he would bark and hang out his tongue.

Thank you for sharing these with your peers, and I hope this reinforces that you’re not alone in dealing with, um, interesting people.