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Why are there so many bad dentists?



May 10, 2012
This has been really interesting. I don’t think there are a huge number of “bad” dentists around (undoubtedly, some of the stories of botched or unnecessary treatment on this thread prove that there are some) but there are undoubtedly a large number of dentists who are not good with anxious or phobic patients. Even the Tips for Dentists page on this site does have a disclaimer right at the top which says “Firstly I would say, please don’t look to treat nervous patients if it does not genuinely interest you. We all know that for every patient there is the right dentist somewhere. So if you are certain treating very nervous and phobic patients is not for you, please don’t read any further.” My husband’s dentist for example is undoubtedly a “good” and highly skilled dentist. It is clear to me though that this man has no time for anxious patients and is unsure how to deal with people like me. I can only hope that he is not unkind enough to have caused patients to desert him and avoid dental treatment (which is the effect my childhood dentist had on me) but from what I know, my husband is very happy with this practice and the work that has been carried out there even if there is no sense of “relationship” with the dentist. Let’s not forget – a lot of people do prefer it that way also.

I’ve just taken a look around my workplace and with 100% honesty can say that if you were a client coming to our office for assistance, out of the 10 people here, there are 6 that would provide great service and 4 that are permanently grumpy and will either intentionally or not, make life difficult for the client. I would wager that this is indicative of most businesses/industries, sad as it may be, and dentistry is no exception. Thankfully there are great people out there who are effecting change by making it more transparent what patients could and should expect from dentistry. I think any shake-up of the NHS or the dental industry as a whole has to look at a patient-centred approach where communication skills are taught alongside the technical stuff. Do trainee dentists, who may not yet have been let loose on real people, even get told about the impact that even the slightest movement from the patient can have? If so, are they given tips on how to deal with that, to reassure and communicate with the patient? If not I can absolutely understand why this might cause frustration and even uncertainty when dealing with patients.

I wonder if dentistry might benefit from following the Six Sigma approach. I think the standards applied to manufacturing would revolutionize dentistry, or at least make it a much friendlier industry. To be honest, having 6 out of 10 people in your office being actually helpful isn't very good. That's a 40% fail rate. Not meaning to be rude but that to me seems awfully bad. I don't get why offices put up with bad employees. It sounds like your coworkers are kind of difficult to work with!!


Super Moderator
Staff member
Jun 14, 2012
Massachusetts, USA
I know this is from farther back in the thread, but I wanted to put my 2 cents in about new and/or inexperienced dentists vs more experienced ones. While I'm sure that there are many invaluable things that years of experience teach dentists, my experiences with dentists have shown me that sometimes new dentists (even students) can be quite good for phobic patients.

I've had 2 root canals and both were done by endodontic residents both of whom barely looked old enough to have graduated college. When I met the first one for the consult I was pretty skeptical that he was going to be able to both manage my RCT (in a 2nd molar with what turned out to be roots that go on for miles) including getting my bottom jaw numb and my anxiety. When I went back for the RCT, I was still pretty convinced that there was no way he would be able to do what no other dentist had been able to do prior (get my bottom jaw profoundly numb). I was also pretty sure that he would not know how to manage a very anxious patient. I shared my anxiety with him including specific anxiety around injections (and passing out from injections which has happened before) and also about not being numb. I told him that, no matter what, I did not want to see any needles. I also told him that I may need to stay laying flat for a few seconds after the injections in order to insure that I would not have a vaso-vagal reaction (and pass out). His response to me was that he would do whatever he could in order to get me through the procedure. In the end, he not only was able to get me profoundly numb, but he did so without me feeling (or seeing) the injection at all and without me passing out. He allowed me to have the injections at a pace that I could manage and he made sure that I was totally numb before and during the procedure. I thought it may have just been a fluke that I could have such a positive experience with a less-experienced provider. However, the second RCT with a different endodontic resident was much the same. Both were successful (with no issues afterwards) and both times, the dentists made sure they did everything they could to make sure that I was able to manage my anxiety as best as I possibly could given the circumstances. While I do truly value the trusting relationship that I have built with my dentist over the last 4+ years, I have learned through the experiences described above, that I can have positive dental experiences with providers I have never met before.

Of note, 2 of the worst dental experiences that I've had (my childhood dentist and an oral surgeon who removed some of my wisdom teeth) were with extremely experienced and respected dentists.

So, there are my 2 (or 5) cents. I agree with others who have said that there are good dentists and there are bad dentists. This is true for every profession. It's also true that we are way more likely to talk about bad experiences than good ones and so this can make it seem like there is way more bad out there than there is good.

My hope for everyone on this forum is that you are able to find a dentist who you can trust and who treats you with the kindness and respect that you deserve. It may take some searching, but once you find the right dentists for you it is well worth the effort.


Well-known member
Apr 23, 2015
United Kingdom
I have had a mixture of good dentists and bad dentists, been going to same dental practice all my life.

Current dentist is fantastic she got a good team now as she is the pratice owner. I have always been a NHS patient, apart from last time due to covid19

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