Reddit asks Dentists, why do you talk to your clients when they obviously cannot respond?

Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Reddit asks Dentists, why do you talk to your clients when they obviously cannot respond?

If you’ve spent any time at the Dentist, you’ll know that it’s a bloody strange experience. Deadset, you’ve got a highly paid and highly qualified expert knuckles deep in your throat while they chat away about mundane bulls**t and charge you an arm and a leg for putting through an immensely painful and uncomfortable experience. That had Redditors wondering just why dentists bothered talking to patients during procedures. After all, it’s not easy to respond with all that s**t in your mouth.

The question came up on Reddit the other day, and it quickly started to garner a lot of attention from the various dentists scrolling through the infamous website’s pages. As you’ll see, it turns out the f**kers have a fair bit to say on the matter.

Dentists of reddit, why do you talk to your clients when they obviously cannot respond? from r/AskReddit

Dentist here: We talk to our clients 1) to let them know we don’t know think they’re pieces of furniture or inanimate objects we’re working on, 2) if they’re on gas, to check the level of sedation 3) to pass the time for all of us, 4) to distract them from the procedure. At the start of every visit, I tell my patients to raise their left hand if they have anything they want to communicate so they don’t accidentally knock over instruments or disrupt what I’m doing by raising their right hand. If I expect a long answer or see the patient wants to communicate more than yes or no, I tell them to “hold that thought” then I take the mouth prop and suction out so they can elaborate. We can understand quite a bit of garbled speech and body language actually.
Credit: u/fiddlejoy

Yeah, nah, I mean we know they have lots to say; it is after all the point of the question, but it seems like there’s a bit more to it than you might expect. I mean obviously, as you’ll see from the one of the early answers, it’s all about making sure s**t’s going okay, but it seems like there’s also a bit of skill involved on the dentist’s part.

Want to say… when I was 16 and a dentist was knuckles deep in my mouth and he asked me what I was planning on going to college for, I thought he was egging me on like he knows I can’t talk, so damnit I’m gonna answer and show him… “Wew I hon no, wa hinkin ah-oo heh-a-sin uhh aybe veh-er-ah-ary or hu-wah heh-a-sin, nah huaa”… and of course without pause he’s responding “Doctors make more than vets for sure, but you should definitely go for whichever one you’re more passionate about, because they’re both a lot of work”. Every since then I’ve wondered if there’s some class that dentists take to learn this form of communication, cuz I sure as hell thought I was gonna stump him with my response.
Credit: u/Resejin

Dentist here. This thread is hilarious and has some truth to it. Some of y’all would make horrible dentists, or are just assholes.

It’s sometimes for distraction from what’s in your mouth, genuine conversation (we can still understand you a fair bit), or because we know we’re gonna take the stuff out of your mouth in just a second when we finish asking the question.

There’s no recognized course that I’m aware of that teaches how to understand this type of speech, you just kind of pick it up.

It’s sometimes a joke, because we know you can’t respond, but let’s you know what we’re thinking about.

If we seriously don’t want your tongue wiggling around, it’s whenever you hear the high pitched whistling drill. Then again, if when’re we’re in your mouth, please don’t start going nuts with your tongue. We do often have sharp objects in there.

Great questions, everyone! Keep them coming, I’ll get to you all in time. Finally get to say RIP my inbox.

Yeah, if you’ve tried speaking with a mouthful of tools, you’ll know that getting a word out is a bit tricky. Fortunately, plenty of dentists mentioned they can pretty much understand garbled speech.
Credit: u/gngr_ale

I like to talk so that it makes time pass quicker.

There is only so many hours you can sit with a suction in someone’s mouth before it gets super repetitive. Having said that, I tend to ask yes or no questions and tell the patient to answer me with their thumb. I also gauge it. Some people clearly enjoy the interaction and appreciate the distraction. Others just want to sit with head phones on and tune out. Don’t be afraid to tell us what will make the experience easier for you. Cause at the end of the day, we honestly want you to be as comfortable as possible. If you make it obvious you just want to lay in silence, we won’t be offended. Just tell us. If you find me hilarious, then let me know, and everytime you come in I will chat your ear off.
Credit: u/National_Treat_3106

To keep patients at ease. Yesterday we took out a wisdom tooth, and whilst waiting for the patient to get numb the dentist was telling some story he found hilarious from his uni days, the patient also found it funny. When it came to actually removing the tooth we’d continue adding little jokes to the story, so the patient is listening to us and the jokes, taking their mind off of the fact that we’re currently rotating a tooth around in its socket to break the ligaments and then remove the tooth entirely. Some patients are really grateful for this as they don’t even realise the tooth has been taken out, they just keep trying to talk to us and add to the conversation before asking when we’re going to start. All of the people I work with are excellent at calming down nervous patients, and a lot of it is by talking or letting them choose the music we play via YouTube. I’d feel on edge if the people working on me didn’t speak to me, so I like to try my best with patients even if they don’t seem to want to talk. Just give them something to distract them.

Also sometimes the dentists are actually speaking to me (the assistant) but it can be a question the patient can also reply to, such as “do you play a musical instrument” or discussing a new TV series they’ve found.

As a note for patients, try to keep your tongue away from the area we’re working on if you can’t keep it relaxed. It’s very easy to knock an instrument with your tongue and you can either get cut from it or cause disruption, it can also add to our stress and make it more difficult to work on you. Everything we do is in your best interests.

Of course, dentists weren’t the only ones who pitched in their thoughts. More than a few people shared anecdotes and stories about working with—or experiencing—dentists.
Credit: u/Isgortio

Orthodontist here, it’s mostly just a distraction tactic because a lot of people are nervous about dental work.

I don’t always expect you to respond but it’s just to take your mind of what I’m doing at the moment. It’s even better if you can’t respond at that moment because then your mind is pre-occupied with the question and your response.

It’s also comforting to hear a human voice while lying down in my chair, so sometimes I end up monologuing.

Credit: u/bananafever

Dentist here

A couple of reason why I would speak to patients

First, all dentists know that the patients cant answer when we are working in their mouths so we ask for signs such as a thumbs up/down, a left hand up to signal something wrong ect..

I want to see how they are doing during the course of a procedure.

Talking with out patients can distract them from a lengthy procedure that they might be anxious about

It helps me foster a relationship with my patient. I let my patient know that I don’t just see them as a procedure but as someone I care for and genuinely want them to get to know me from small talk when they come to the office.

Credit: u/arktnets23

Final thought: Give this one a read and see if any of it rings true for you. On a sidenote, if there are any dentists in the comments section, f**ken spill the beans. Why do you talk so much when you know we can’t respond?

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