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How do I stop people using me as an unpaid dental advice service?

(23 Posts)
IrritatedMe Sun 08-Nov-09 11:27:11

Name changed as don't want to become a dental advice service on MN.

Can you tell me how to put in a short polite way the following:

'please stop asking me your fricking dental questions when I am doing my shopping/dropping the kids off to school/enjoying a chat and a coffee etc.

I work really hard at being a dentist 3 days a week and on the other days I don't really want to have a guess as to whether you have gum disease/your childs tooth is rotten/your husband should have a bridge.

I have no idea if your dentist is a charlatan/charging too much/ generally incompetent without doing a full check myself.'

How to put this nicely as I find it puts me between a rock and a hard place if I can't give people a decent answer and am finding it really frustrating. I don't want to offend people. Please help MN! grin

TotalChaos Sun 08-Nov-09 11:28:30

tell them giving off the cuff advice is frowned on by your professional indemnity insurers?

IrritatedMe Sun 08-Nov-09 11:29:26

Thats actually a really good one TotalChaos!!!!!!! grin x 1000000

Arsed Sun 08-Nov-09 11:33:07

YANBU but I wish you were. I desperatly need a dentist today.. grin

EyeballsintheSky Sun 08-Nov-09 11:38:43

Tough one. Bearing in mind that most people are uneasy about going to the dentist and some, like me, need tranqs to get through the doors, having someone they know and can casually ask is probably a big deal for them.

Sorry, I'm sure it pisses you off but I tend to think that, as with doctors, it's something you just have to resolve to bite your tongue on sometimes when you go into the profession. It can hardly be a surprise that people ask you things?

EyeballsintheSky Sun 08-Nov-09 11:39:45

Sorry, that sounded really arsey, didn't mean it like that blush

IrritatedMe Sun 08-Nov-09 11:43:31

Not taken at all like that Eyeballs!

Problem is, without my Xrays, exquipment, dry mouth light etc, it is really hard to give a good diagnosis for anything. And even if I can, I can't treat it in the middle of Tescos!

Also, people often ask me things as a second opinion and if I agree with their dentist they don't seem best pleased, but I really don't want to disagree with their dentist either without knowing and seeing all the facts IYSWIM.

PacificGuywood Sun 08-Nov-09 11:45:09

I find simple, honest (civil if I can manage it wink) "I am sorry, I cannot answer that without taking a full history and examintation. Make an appointment for next week" works for me.
Also re commenting on other professionals judgement/comment/bills I just say something like "oh dear, how awful for you" without really commenting or taking sides or making any kind of judgement.
To be honest, I find it does not happen very often and usually is from friends who are just wondering how to proceed and I am not unhappy about advising them about that (am GP, not dentist, though).

PacificGuywood Sun 08-Nov-09 11:46:39

I have been left speechless by woman wanting to discuss her smelly vaginal discharge in supermarket aisle though....shock. And although she clearly knew who I was, I had no idea who she was, and also felt my sons did not particularly need to be part of this conversationwink.

IrritatedMe Sun 08-Nov-09 11:49:30

Problem is, its getting worse Pacific. I seem to get these things weekly.

This morning I was annexed by a vague aquaintance for about 20mins quizzing me about her dentist and his diagnosis of gum disease. I literally couldn't get away. Meanwhile, my dcs were causing mayhem in the background! Also, my practice is miles away so they probably wouldn't register there and I don't really like treating folk I know.

I would really like to just head people off at the pass in the first place when I hear the dreaded question 'oooh, your a dentist. Could I just ask you about...'

purepurple Sun 08-Nov-09 11:49:55

that takes the biscuit

IrritatedMe Sun 08-Nov-09 11:50:17

OMG -and I thought they asked me inappropriate questions!

PacificGuywood Sun 08-Nov-09 12:01:15


A colleague found he had to move out of the community because the pestering got too much. I have now lived in the same patch as our surgery for 5 years and really do not have a problem. Maybe as I am a coldhearted bitch grin?!

Pinning you down for 20min is just not on, IMO! Use your children: "Sorry you are having problems, I need to run before they kill each other/others" or some such guff.

Abovementioned colleague made decision to move after a neighbour asked him to see his sick dog at 10pm. When told to call a vet, he answered: "Ah yes, but the vet will cost me"...grin

Anyway, what I am trying to say, you will not change people, all you can do is try and change your response to them.
Nip it in the bud.
"I am sorry you are having problems, but I've got to run"
"Oh gosh, don't talk to me about teeth, I am at a party and want to enjoy myself", said with a self depreciating giggle
"If you want a second opinion, see another dentist. Locally I could recomment XYZ" etc

FWIF, I am rubbish at confrontation, but really find if it goes beyond "how much Paracetamol is it safe to take?", I can head questions off at the start.

PacificGuywood Sun 08-Nov-09 12:04:13

And, just for anybody else reading this, it is not safe to give advice on serious problems/other doctors/dentits' treatment without full facts and examination.
Don't ask about the appropriateness of your management for breast cancer at the school gates, 'tis not fair on anybody.

<as you were>

Heated Sun 08-Nov-09 12:08:02

Tell them you've been struck off?

You now only specialise in halitosis cases?

Booyhoo Sun 08-Nov-09 12:12:37

plain and simple. say that you couldnt possibly comment without giving them a full examination. then tell them what days you work. then say you have to go.

i hate this too, i literally switch off from my job at 5.00 pm and when people ask me stuff outside of work i come accross as a complete idiot, dithering about what is the corret answer to give. in the end i just tell them "sorry, i finished work at 5" it sounds harsh but the way i say it is more of a jokey, lighthearted way and people usually end up apologising and saying they understand me not wanting to discuss it out of hours.

Goblinchild Sun 08-Nov-09 12:19:32

As a teacher who lives in the same area, I feel your pain. grin
People try and pin you down to ask about everything from diagnosing dyslexia to behaviour to ranting about the headmaster's unreasonable attitude to XYZ.

IrritatedMe Sun 08-Nov-09 12:19:41

This is why I don't live close to the surgery Pacific!
And you wouldn't believe how persistant that woman was, she followed me from room to room. I think she wanted me to slag off her current dentist and kept at it.
Thank you for that advice and also Booyhoo. I think I might just start being short and sweet about it. Problems start though with friends...

Heated, I think that might be the way out of it!!!

LynetteScavo Sun 08-Nov-09 12:29:51

I think it's the same whatever profession you do...people will start asking for advice in social situations. Unless you do something they don't understand.

Maybe you could give up dentistry and become a quantum physicist? (sp? hmm)

While you're here, though, do you think this filling, here; shock needs replacing?

LIZS Sun 08-Nov-09 12:34:48

Can you carry business cards and ask them to contact you during your working hours. Plead being very distracted(not hard with kids in tow) and needing things on a more formal footing when you can focus as you'd hate to overlook something.

ABetaDad Sun 08-Nov-09 12:42:01

Its the same with any profession from Architect to Zoo Vet.

I avoid giving people specific investment advice about which shares to buy for this reason. A general helpful professional stock response is the right way to go but specific advice has to be paid for in my view and has to be covered with all the usual profesisonal and regulatory legal safeguards.

IrritatedMe Sun 08-Nov-09 12:57:58

Lynette - its looks awful that filling. I think you need to see a dentist. grin

And Abetadad - I need a good stockbroker...the only thing is, who to ask...

ABetaDad Sun 08-Nov-09 13:33:12

Irriated - I have used Stocktrade execution only service for the past 6 years. That is not a profesisonal recommendation of course. wink

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