Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: Twik on December 14, 2012, 02:47:57 PM

Title: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Twik on December 14, 2012, 02:47:57 PM
So, I have a little etiquette/moral dilemma here.

Last week, I had a filling fall out. Not just a little one, a GREAT BIG HUGE HOLE IN MY TOOTH (or at least, that's what it felt like!) I called my regular dentist, who I've used for 20 years. Apparently, they have no emergency appointments, and they said the earliest they could see me is January. This apparently isn't unusual - I had to wait two weeks a few years ago when a molar self-destructed.

So, I thought that to avoid a catastrophic Christmas, I should shop around. And with luck, I found a dental office nearby, who got me an appointment within 48 hourse, and repaired the tooth right away. Which creates a dilemma:

1 - am I right in being a little bit miffed at my original dentist, who expected me to go nearly 3 weeks without treatment, even though I've been a regular customer for two decades, when the treatment could have taken no more than 30 minutes?

2 - should I feel obligated to change to a practice that clearly goes out of its way for new customers?
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on December 14, 2012, 02:52:54 PM
You do have the right to be a bit miffed with your current dentist.  You do not have an obligation to switch to the emergency dentist.  You phoned, they were willing to accommodate you.  I'm sure they would be happy for you to switch to them but they didn't make that a condition of seeing you.

But if you had a good repore with the emergency staff and his/her staff, by all means, switch.  They've already demonstrated that they value you as a client.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Judah on December 14, 2012, 02:59:01 PM
This is a business transaction in which etiquette really has no say.  You can leave a dental/medical/auto repair/plumbing practice for any reason or no reason at all.  Leave if you want, stay if you want, move to the new practice if you want, or find a third dentist...


Edited to add that I wouldn't stay with a dentist who couldn't fit me in for an emergency regardless of how long I'd been with him.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Tea Drinker on December 14, 2012, 03:28:01 PM
I don't think you are obliged to go to the new dental practice, but you also aren't obliged to go back to the old one.

If I was making this decision, one factor would be whether the filling that fell out had been originally done by the dentist who said they couldn't fit you it. I know there's no warranty (I'm assuming this isn't "Dr. So-and-so filled this tooth in October and it feel out already," because you'd have said so), but I would expect them to feel more responsible for a filling that was in some sense their work, and make an effort to fit you in.

Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Faerydust on December 14, 2012, 03:33:19 PM
You have every right to be miffed that your dentist couldn't see you for an emergency. I'd probably find a new office if it were me.

You also have no obligation to any dental office. It wouldn't be wrong to go back to your original dentist or to switch to the one you saw for your emergency treatment.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: NotTheNarcissist on December 14, 2012, 05:09:32 PM
To answer your questions, 1=yes and 2=no. I would leave the dentist of 20 years for the new one.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: HorseFreak on December 14, 2012, 06:19:36 PM
If they couldn't see me for weeks for a disintegrating tooth I would jump ship- that's ridiculous. Leaving a cavity open like that for a month is asking for trouble.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Shoo on December 14, 2012, 07:00:17 PM
I don't think I'd stay with a dentist who couldn't see me in an emergency.  One thing you might do before switching dentists, however, is speak to your old dentist in person if you can.  It could be that his appointment scheduler has no idea what constitutes an emergency, and the dentist had no idea he/she had put you off like that.  Give him a chance to tell you he's appalled at what happened.  If he doesn't, then go forth to your new dentist!
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Mr Wigglybones on December 14, 2012, 08:46:37 PM
This is business - it has nothing to to with etiquette. Just pick the one you prefer.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: HorseFreak on December 14, 2012, 09:07:00 PM
I don't think I'd stay with a dentist who couldn't see me in an emergency.  One thing you might do before switching dentists, however, is speak to your old dentist in person if you can.  It could be that his appointment scheduler has no idea what constitutes an emergency, and the dentist had no idea he/she had put you off like that.  Give him a chance to tell you he's appalled at what happened.  If he doesn't, then go forth to your new dentist!

That's a good point. I was flossing once and broke off a filling, but I couldn't tell if it was filling or tooth since it was a natural colored filling. I called my dentist and the idiot I talked to said I could see a hygienist in 2 weeks to evaluate it, but I would not be able to see the dentist and I would have to schedule something after the hygienist saw it. The next day I started to be in some serious pain and called back in tears. I spoke to a different receptionist who told me that it was an emergency and I could be seen whenever I arrived that day. The dentist was furious at the first woman I spoke to and replaced the filling in 30 minutes.

I also had a receptionist at my back surgeon's office refuse me an appointment for three weeks despite progressing neurologic deficits. The surgeon stormed out of the room when I told him why I had waited so long to come in and I had surgery two days later. I imagine that discussion between the doctor and receptionist was not pretty.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: sweetonsno on December 14, 2012, 10:54:20 PM
I'm of two minds on this. One the one hand, I'd be pretty upset if I couldn't be seen in an emergency. On the other hand, I'd be annoyed if I came in to my scheduled appointment and had to wait (or it got canceled) to accommodate someone else. Would I stop seeing my dentist in either case? Probably not. However, I would be unhappy.

I do agree with the PPs who think the receptionist might be at fault here. Are you sure that it was the dentist and not the scheduler?
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: WillyNilly on December 14, 2012, 11:21:08 PM
I've been going to the same dentist since he bought the practice from my previous dentist, 20+ years ago. They are almost always on time with appointments, its a very efficiently run office.  But over the years, a few times i've had to wait a bit due to emergencys coming in.  And I put up with it because it wasn't often and because i liked the idea that if I had an emergency, they'd see me.  If they in turn did not see me, I would be very put off.

I do think its worth speaking to someone else there though, like the dentist or the office manager before totally writing off such a long relationship. But if they still didn't care?  Well maybe that practice has run its course.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: RegionMom on December 14, 2012, 11:35:26 PM
A few summers ago, I was helping a group of children tie off leather laced beaded necklaces, and pulling the knot tight with my front teeth.  Yes, I knew it was a no-no, but I did it anyway.

And, Floop!!  my front tooth, which had already had a good bit of dental work done in it, went flying across the table! 
I had less than half of a front tooth.  No pain, but I looked terrible.  Complete Hicksville.  A bad TV character. 

My dentist saw me that afternoon.  He did a temporary, and I had it fixed permanently later.

The only issue for me was that I was going out with DH that night for our wedding anniversary, and I was cautioned to only eat soft foods.   :P

Anyway, similar to pediatric offices, there should be built in time for emergencies.  If no one comes in, catch-up on paperwork, or have an office karaoke sing-off!

Find out why you were told no, and decide then what to do.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Sara Crewe on December 15, 2012, 03:55:54 AM
I'm of two minds on this. One the one hand, I'd be pretty upset if I couldn't be seen in an emergency. On the other hand, I'd be annoyed if I came in to my scheduled appointment and had to wait (or it got canceled) to accommodate someone else. Would I stop seeing my dentist in either case? Probably not. However, I would be unhappy.

I do agree with the PPs who think the receptionist might be at fault here. Are you sure that it was the dentist and not the scheduler?

My dentist schedules time for emergencies.  You can either make an appointment in the afternoon and usually be seen within 20 minutes of your appointment time (at worst) or show up at 08.30 and wait with the other emergencies for a dentist who deliberately leaves his schedule free that morning.  You can sometimes end up waiting 2 or 3 hours, but you will be seen that day.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: cicero on December 15, 2012, 04:20:13 AM
*your first dentist should have taken you immediately (or as soon as possible, not a month later)
*you CAN leave your first dentist over this - but as Shoo said - i would speak to the first dentist before I do anything. Sometimes the receptionists need to be re-trained. If *this* was the first issue you had with them, i would talk to him first.
* you dont' have to feel obligated to switch to the other practice. It's nice that they were able to fit you in, but that is how they run their business.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: blarg314 on December 15, 2012, 06:34:52 AM

My dentist schedules time for emergencies.  You can either make an appointment in the afternoon and usually be seen within 20 minutes of your appointment time (at worst) or show up at 08.30 and wait with the other emergencies for a dentist who deliberately leaves his schedule free that morning.  You can sometimes end up waiting 2 or 3 hours, but you will be seen that day.

That sounds like  a reasonable policy.

If you've had good dealings with them in general, then I think it's worth calling and asking what their policy is regarding emergency visits. If it does turn out that they're so booked that it can take a month or more to get in for emergency treatment, then you've got a good reason to switch. If it was a mistake, they get a chance to correct the problem before they lose your business.

Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: katycoo on December 16, 2012, 03:33:35 AM
I am very sympathetic for practices who elect not to accomodate emergency appointments where they have no current availability.  Because while its a very nice thing for the patient in need, it disrupts everyone elses appointments.  Ultimately I prefer knowing my time will be honoured, than turning up and aiting or being cancelled on.

As the person in need, you did the right thing.  Your dentist could not accomodate, you did not wish to wait, and you found an alternative solution.  Perfect.

How you travel forward from here is completely up to you.  You have no obligation to either dentist and you should contiue with who makes you feel most comfortable.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Sharnita on December 16, 2012, 05:02:21 AM
Actually, I know dentists who will open early, stay late or even come in on days they are normally closed to help take care of emergencies.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Bethalize on December 16, 2012, 06:43:52 AM
I chose my dentist precisely because of how they handle emergency appointments. A dentist who can't handle emergency appointments is no good to me. I can plan my regular visits and keep to them, but the time my crown comes off/my tooth breaks/I'm screaming in pain from gum infection/I just know there is an abscess under that tooth again is when I need my dentist most.

A dentist without emergency appointment handling is like a hospital without A+E.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: RubyCat on December 16, 2012, 08:04:36 AM
I too, chose my dentist because of his availability.  I once found myself with in terrible pain and unable to get through to the dentist despite repeated calling.  The office was closed for two days and there was apparently no emergency coverage.  I tried to tough it out but could barely function.  Called a different dentist who saw me the same day.  Turns out I had an abscess the size of a dime.  I switched dentists right then and stayed with that dentist until I moved from the area.  It was an important lesson for me.  After the move, when I was looking for new doctors and dentists and veterinarians I was sure to ask what type of emergency coverage they have in place because, though I hope I never need it, it's very important to have in place.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Sharnita on December 16, 2012, 08:07:41 AM
I will add that there is ome responsibility on the part of patients as well.  There are emergerncies that spring up suddenly  at really bad times.  There are also patients that want to be seen on Christmas morning for their emergency - pain that they've been having for a week and decided the morning of the 25th they can not longer tolerate.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Twik on December 16, 2012, 01:20:20 PM
I agree, Sharnita - that's why I wanted to get it taken care of before the holidays. Otherwise, I would be dollars to donuts it would flare up at the least convenient time.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: That Anime Chick on December 17, 2012, 09:21:39 AM
I'm going to have to go against the grain and say no. Yes, emergencies happen. I had one on Friday. However, because my regular dentist does not work on Friday, I saw one of his associates. His associate was wonderful and gave me the answers I needed.

Am I going to jump ship? No, because I like the associates he works with and they've been there for me before with various other emergencies (similar to LadyJaeinMD - one of the associates opened the office when a tooth cracked and she put on a temp crown, with her husband and baby in tow).

I think there's a lot of consideration that needs to be made before you say 'CRUD MONKEYS!! I must change dentists because mine couldn't see me for this problem!'
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Shoo on December 17, 2012, 09:26:03 AM
I'm going to have to go against the grain and say no. Yes, emergencies happen. I had one on Friday. However, because my regular dentist does not work on Friday, I saw one of his associates. His associate was wonderful and gave me the answers I needed.

Am I going to jump ship? No, because I like the associates he works with and they've been there for me before with various other emergencies (similar to LadyJaeinMD - one of the associates opened the office when a tooth cracked and she put on a temp crown, with her husband and baby in tow).

I think there's a lot of consideration that needs to be made before you say 'CRUD MONKEYS!! I must change dentists because mine couldn't see me for this problem!'

I think it's a completely different situation when the dentist isn't even in the office, but has backup personnel there to fill in when there is an emergency.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: peaches on December 17, 2012, 09:35:11 AM
Actually, I know dentists who will open early, stay late or even come in on days they are normally closed to help take care of emergencies.

My dentist is like this. I know we can count on him in an emergency. I would not use a dentist who didn't have this attitude.

We take care of our teeth, we have regularly scheduled cleanings and care. But anyone can have a dental emergency. A tooth cracks, an old filling falls out, you are injured in a car wreck or in sports. That's a part of dental care IMO.

Back to the OP, no need to apologize to your old dentist for getting the care you needed. Who you will use in the future is up to you. Who do you feel most comfortable with?
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: ACBNYC on December 17, 2012, 11:36:32 AM
I'm going to have to go against the grain and say no. Yes, emergencies happen. I had one on Friday. However, because my regular dentist does not work on Friday, I saw one of his associates. His associate was wonderful and gave me the answers I needed.

Am I going to jump ship? No, because I like the associates he works with and they've been there for me before with various other emergencies (similar to LadyJaeinMD - one of the associates opened the office when a tooth cracked and she put on a temp crown, with her husband and baby in tow).

I think there's a lot of consideration that needs to be made before you say 'CRUD MONKEYS!! I must change dentists because mine couldn't see me for this problem!'

That's completely different--your dentist didn't tell you had to wait three weeks to be seen.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Mikayla on December 17, 2012, 02:14:29 PM
I don't think anyone can say whether you should jump ship or not.  There's a lot to consider in doing that.  But if you've had no problems for 20 years with the current guy, I'd at least want to talk to him about why I was leaving.  It would be awful if it was a miscommunication of some sort between him and whoever told you no.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: bopper on December 17, 2012, 02:15:18 PM
Your original dentist does not provide a service that you are in need of.  The second dentist does.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: BeagleMommy on December 17, 2012, 02:25:52 PM
POD talking to the dentist directly before switching.  He may be unaware that you were told this.  It's possible that the scheduler/receptionist needs a better definition of what constitutes an emergency.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: katycoo on December 17, 2012, 04:31:28 PM
Actually, I know dentists who will open early, stay late or even come in on days they are normally closed to help take care of emergencies.

There are many who do and this is a wonderful service.  And I certainly do not blame patients who seek out providers of this service.

But I don't think a dentist is necesarily deficient because he prefers to be able to schedule his personal time how he chooses instead of always prioritising his patients.

Extreme example, but the dentist who has a family he wishes to spend time with needent necessarily miss out of that as he is constantly working back to assist people with emergencies.

I do agree that it is awkward to utilise a dentist only in an emergency situation, but I have a certain amount of respect for those who choose not to provide emergency after hours appointments.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Judah on December 17, 2012, 04:39:27 PM
Actually, I know dentists who will open early, stay late or even come in on days they are normally closed to help take care of emergencies.

There are many who do and this is a wonderful service.  And I certainly do not blame patients who seek out providers of this service.

But I don't think a dentist is necesarily deficient because he prefers to be able to schedule his personal time how he chooses instead of always prioritising his patients.

Extreme example, but the dentist who has a family he wishes to spend time with needent necessarily miss out of that as he is constantly working back to assist people with emergencies.

I do agree that it is awkward to utilise a dentist only in an emergency situation, but I have a certain amount of respect for those who choose not to provide emergency after hours appointments.

This is a business relationship. A dentist is well within her rights to decide that making accommodations for emergencies is not something she wants for her business, but her patients are also free to decide that doesn't work for them and  to find a dentist that will see them when they need to be seen.

We all have to make priorities in our lives. I would not choose a dentist who wouldn't see me when I have an emergency. There are lots of good dentists out there and it makes more sense for me to find one who will work with my needs than for me to have to suffer in pain or try to hunt around for someone willing to fit me in when I have an emergency.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: katycoo on December 17, 2012, 05:04:18 PM
Actually, I know dentists who will open early, stay late or even come in on days they are normally closed to help take care of emergencies.

There are many who do and this is a wonderful service.  And I certainly do not blame patients who seek out providers of this service.

But I don't think a dentist is necesarily deficient because he prefers to be able to schedule his personal time how he chooses instead of always prioritising his patients.

Extreme example, but the dentist who has a family he wishes to spend time with needent necessarily miss out of that as he is constantly working back to assist people with emergencies.

I do agree that it is awkward to utilise a dentist only in an emergency situation, but I have a certain amount of respect for those who choose not to provide emergency after hours appointments.

This is a business relationship. A dentist is well within her rights to decide that making accommodations for emergencies is not something she wants for her business, but her patients are also free to decide that doesn't work for them and  to find a dentist that will see them when they need to be seen.

We all have to make priorities in our lives. I would not choose a dentist who wouldn't see me when I have an emergency. There are lots of good dentists out there and it makes more sense for me to find one who will work with my needs than for me to have to suffer in pain or try to hunt around for someone willing to fit me in when I have an emergency.

I agree entirely.  Which is why the OP should not feel bad about the decisions she made in seeing another dentist, and should continue with whomever she feels most comfortable.  She has no obligation to either. 
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Winterlight on December 18, 2012, 08:26:34 AM
I don't think I'd stay with a dentist who couldn't see me in an emergency.  One thing you might do before switching dentists, however, is speak to your old dentist in person if you can.  It could be that his appointment scheduler has no idea what constitutes an emergency, and the dentist had no idea he/she had put you off like that.  Give him a chance to tell you he's appalled at what happened.  If he doesn't, then go forth to your new dentist!

This.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Virg on December 18, 2012, 09:27:55 AM
I also agree with Shoo.  Talk directly to your dentist about what happened and you'll know if it was a situation that won't happen again, and you might wish to give  a decades-long business relationship another chance if that's the case.  But if your original dentist can't assure you that it was a one-time error, then in your shoes I'd switch.  If a dentist can't fit you in for emergency work, then it's a good idea to find a dentist who will because dental emergencies can be extremely painful and cause lasting problems.

Virg
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Decimus on December 18, 2012, 10:22:19 AM
I'll POD talking to the dentist too.  If a dentist doesn't want to treat emergencies, that's his/her choice, but I do feel they ought to then have someone they refer to ("For emergencies or after-hours, call Dr X at 555-5555").  I feel it would be particularly odd if the dentist couldn't at least refer to an emergency dental clinic or something.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: RegionMom on December 18, 2012, 10:41:34 AM
The OP called in pain.  She was told to wait three weeks

Several years ago, my 4 yr old DD had a mouth pain and our insurance told us only three people could take care of it.  All were out when I called.  Insurance expanded the net and found one person 60 miles away. 
They wanted me to bounce her around in pain and wait a few more days, regardless.  Or, I could easily wait a couple of weeks, right?  Till one of the three locals was back?

no way.
I finagled a cell phone number and called to find that the person 60 miles away would be in my town the next day at a satellite office.  I got DD in  first thing. 
All better.

And, yes, I would have paid out of pocket cash to help DD.  But, we pay for insurance by golly, and we got it covered!  (This was for an oral surgeon, not our regular dentist)

There is a difference between, "I am in PAIN and need help NOW" and "I would like to schedule an appointment."

Talk to the dentist and see if he knows the details.  Then decide.



Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: girlmusic on December 18, 2012, 11:47:08 AM
Actually, I know dentists who will open early, stay late or even come in on days they are normally closed to help take care of emergencies.

My father is a dentist, and he has always done this. He will also call the next day and see how the patient is doing, if it was a major procedure (he himself, not his staff). Sometimes a scheduled appointment would have to wait for an emergency patient, but they were always informed of what was going on and offered an alternative time if they couldn't wait.
Title: Re: Dentist etiquette - should I jump ship?
Post by: Annoyed in America on January 05, 2013, 06:43:44 AM
I don't think I'd stay with a dentist who couldn't see me in an emergency.  One thing you might do before switching dentists, however, is speak to your old dentist in person if you can.  It could be that his appointment scheduler has no idea what constitutes an emergency, and the dentist had no idea he/she had put you off like that.  Give him a chance to tell you he's appalled at what happened.  If he doesn't, then go forth to your new dentist!

I agree.  I had a doctor whose assistant acted like she was the supreme gate keeper and wouldn't let you get in or even talk to the doctor if you didn't kiss her patutie.  I let the doctor know and things got better (for a while).