Three Things You Should Never Do in Front of a Patient

Roger Levin, DDS


In the hustle and bustle of a busy day at a dental practice, dentists and dental teams often aren’t aware of some of their behaviors in front of patients. Of course, most of it is good. The dental staff is treating patients well and doctors are providing excellent care.

However, sometimes you and your team are unintentionally doing things that should never be done in front of patients. Things that will always catch a patient’s attention and turn them off—sometimes for good.

While there is a laundry list of behaviors that will have your patients looking elsewhere for care, make it your business to avoid the following three habits, which are among the most offensive things you can do in front of patients. 

  • Multitask: When with a patient, have you ever had a discussion with a staff member, turned your back on the patient to complete a form, or left the room multiple times? While you may think you’re innocently ticking off things from your to-do list, multitasking in front of patients sends a message that the patient is a third party and you will get to them whenever you feel like it. Whenever you’re in front of a patient, you should dedicate yourself to a higher level of focus on that patient and nothing else.
  • Check your phone: With the advent of smartphones, it’s become common for staff members to check their phones in front of patients or in treatment rooms. While we understand that phone communication, such as knowing that children have arrived home safely from school, is more common, checking phones in front of a patient is an absolute no-no. Once again, it sends a message that you’re not focused on your patients, which makes them believe that they’re not receiving the best care. 
  • Show negative emotion: Dentistry can be stressful. Hundreds of decisions are made all day, every day. Some dentists bring their emotions from the previous patient to the next patient. Some dentists forget the patient’s name when they walk into a room. Others have personal issues that occasionally affect their mood. We have one client who recently went through a two-year death of a parent that resulted in a lack of focus and even some depression that showed in their daily performance. It may be difficult, but whether you have to fake being happy when you’re having a bad day, or work on self-improvement in order to create a new attitude, do it. Any display of negative emotions in front of a patient is unacceptable. Patients will not stay with your practice if they experience any negativity. 

If any of these three things take place in front of a patient, then overall customer satisfaction and patient loyalty will decline. In many cases, patients will leave the practice. In a world where patients feel that they have many choices, you always want to create an environment where they pick you every time. 

Dr. Levin is a third-generation general dentist and the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm. Founded in 1985, Levin Group has worked with more than 30,000 dental practices. Dr. Levin is one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry and is a leading authority on dental practice success and sustainable growth. Through extensive research and cutting-edge innovation, Dr. Levin is a recognized expert on propelling practices into the top 10%. He has authored 65 books and more than 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. To contact Dr. Levin, email

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