When Your Patient is Mad With You

Sometimes you can do everything right clinically, the patient can still be upset with you. The aesthetics may be “off”, or the restoration simply does not feel right despite negative findings on radiographs. That’s life.




Patient’s want to know that you care. Just listen to their problem (even if they’re wrong). Don’t interject and insert your own clinical perspective. Simply listening can go a long way in mending your relationship.




Lean the patient back and really investigate their concern. Double check the occlusion; reassess the pocket depth; examine everything.  “It’s fine” does not make the investigation thorough – you might have really missed something.


Don’t brush it off


Find out exactly what they want, then apologise for the situation. Sometimes an apology is all they need to hear. This demonstrates that you are genuinely concerned with their issue.

In terms of esthetics, what are they unhappy about. The shape, the color? Pinpoint this exactly.

If the tooth just doesn’t feel right, have them describe the pain and the location. Could it potentially be another tooth flaring up, instead of the one you last restored?




This could mean redoing the work if you know precisely how to fix it. Alternatively, you can always recommend the patient seek a second opinion with a specialist to determine what the issue is.


Apply these steps in difficult situations, and you’ll be sure to save time and heartache.

Dr Kevin Ho
Dr Kevin Ho
Dr Kevin Ho is Cosmetic Dentist, Clinical Professor and Entrepreneur based out of Australia and Canada.

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