Dental Patient Excuses


Dental Patients’ Funniest Excuses

Dentists shared the most amusing excuses for patients missing dental appointments. In this Wealthy dentist survey, the most popular response was, "Sorry, doctor, but I have a toothache."

September 3, 2008 (San Francisco, California) Dentists offered up the funniest excuses they've heard from patients for missing appointments in response to a recent poll by dental practice marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist. The clear winner was the toothache defense: "My tooth hurts too bad to get out of bed,"
complained one patient.

Dentists shared numerous variations on the toothache excuse. "I had a lady call to cancel her recare appointment at the last minute because she ‘had a toothache'” sighed a West Virginia dentist. “When in dental school, I was handed a note that my patient had canceled because she had a terrible toothache," reminisced an Illinois dentist. "The note made it into the yearbook."

Some patient excuses were stunningly legitimate. “A model doing a photo shoot said she was bitten by a lion. A cop was involved in a shoot out,” shared a New York endodontist. A North Carolina dentist’s patient got hit by a train, a Virginia dental office worker shared the tale of a patient who was in jail. (One has to wonder if he used his only phone call to call the dentist!)

Some excuses are utterly ridiculous, like blaming it on nonexistent weather. “'I can’t get out of the driveway because of snow'… There was no snow on the ground,” said an Ohio pediatric dentist. "One patient told me, ‘My windshield wipers aren’t working and it MIGHT rain.’ It was summer in San Antonio and there was a 0% chance of rain in the forecast," said an Arkansas orthodontist. "Needless to say, I got rid of that patient!"

Some patient have no shame about missing appointments and wasting the dental practice’s time. “One patient wanted to know if his insurance would cover the broken appointment fee!” said one general dentist. “We always document patients' excuses when missing an appointment," explained a Texas dentist. "Sometimes the same grandparent passes away unexpectedly two or three times in the same year!!"

When patients don’t want to see the dentist, it’s easy to think of better things to do. "’I have a hangnail.’ Also, ‘My dog has diarrhea,’" said a North Carolina dentist. “She had to go shopping for her daughter's bat mitzvah dress,” shared a Connecticut periodontist. To a Kansas dentist, it was, "’The grass was so high I just had to mow it," while an India periodontist simply heard, "’I went to a movie instead.’"

Some stick to the school tradition of blaming it on the dog. “My dog ate my appointment card,” one patient told an Arizona dentist. “My dog has a grooming appointment,” another told a California dentist.

Patients share all kinds of unexpected information in offering up excuses. “The goats got loose!” one told a Maryland pediatric dentist. An Alabama dentist had a patient who called to say that he had soiled himself while on the way to his appointment.

"Ah, the creativity of people who want to avoid the dentist!" laughed Jim Du Molin, dental practice management consultant and founder of dental continuing education website The Wealthy Dentist. "I love the toothache excuse for missing a dentist appointment – that’s classic!"


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Jim Du Molin

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