Professional Courtesy: 10 Things that Annoy Me by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, Editorial Director, Dentaltown Magazine

10 Things That Annoy Me

by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, Editorial Director, Dentaltown Magazine
Festivus will soon be upon us and in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to take a moment of your time for a brief "airing of grievances." I'm using this as a therapy with the intention of removing these annoyances from my life permanently and moving on to something else. After you read my list, immediately write down the things that come to mind about your practice life. I promise you will feel better before Halloween, unless number three applies to you.

1. There are many reasons we take alginate impressions on our patients. When I look at the counter in our office lab and see three sets of poured-up models with no names next to them, I want to scream. Do assistants keep this information secret so we can't fire them?

2. I hate doing employee reviews. However, they need to be done at least once a year and they do not always come with a raise.

3. Every Halloween, dentists around the country offer a candy buyback program. This is where they offer kids $1 per pound, or some nominal fee, to turn in the majority of their Halloween candy. It's bad for them anyway, right? Then, what do they do with the candy? Send it to our troops overseas where routine dental care is scarce. Next month you guys can do a cigarette buyback program with your adult patients. Genius.

4. Whenever I have to prepare a single anterior tooth for a crown, I always send the patient to a local lab for a custom shade. I tell them that having the lab person see them will give the best information on color, contour, character, etc. When the crown comes back and the shade is off, I realize that some people think the art of dentistry is more impressionism than realism.

5. I fully understand that making cold calls to business phone numbers is one way to make a living. However, interrupting the operation of my business is the worst way to make a first impression. The volume of cold calls coming to the practice some days is enough to keep me from doing business with anyone who uses this method of prospecting.

6. An instrument (example: implant wrench) goes missing in the office and nobody knows where it went. I think this was a recurring theme in the Family Circus cartoons. It's not as cute with adults.

7. The other day I spent 14 minutes on hold with a dental equipment manufacturer to determine the part number for a small piece of plastic in my operatory. Next, I had to call the distributor to order the part; the cost: $57. I chuckled and the guy on the other end said, "I know, this happens all the time with these plastic parts." Then we both laughed as I ordered three.

8. Nothing hurts more than the patient who says, "My tooth didn't hurt before you worked on it." I will never enjoy this phrase, but I have learned to identify potential problem teeth in advance and I have never recommended replacing amalgam fillings just because they are old.

9. I'm convinced that if your front office staff is angry with you, they will schedule more than three Class II composite patients in the same day. I loathe the tedium of multiple Class II composites in spite of the fact that I routinely use the rubber dam. My solution was to limit the number of Class II composites that can be scheduled in a single day.

10. I take my responsibility to my patients very seriously and there are two after-hours calls that drive me crazy: Patients who cannot reach their dentist because no after-hours option exists, and patients of record who call for treatment that was recommended but they never scheduled.

Perhaps this list has sparked a few grievances that you would like to share with us on You can add your comments to this article online or reach me via e-mail: If Twitter is your thing, follow me here: @ddstom.

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