Skip to content
News / August 27, 2009

Calling all dental patients

by Guy Hiscott

More than four out of five dentists surveyed by the Chicago Dental Society revealed that patients send and receive text messages on their mobile phones while receiving dental care.

In addition to the dentists who said their patients regularly text in the dental chair, 46% said this habit hampers their ability to provide care.

The high number of dental chair texters is also surprising, given that 32% of the dentists indicated they have a mobile device policy posted in a visible location in their practice.

‘We have signs up in the waiting room and directly in front of where the patient sits stating that they need to turn off their phones but most simply ignore them,’ said one respondent.

Another dentist indicated texting or answering calls can be a real barrier to delivering care because ‘many times the patient sits up during treatment to answer a call or text’.

But not every dentist views texting as a societal evil. Dr Cissy Furusho, a paediatric dentist in Chicago, said her teenaged patients have mastered texting to the point that they don’t even have to look down at their phone keyboard during treatment.

Even dentists who don’t have a stated policy against texting say it can still interfere with communication between dentist and patient.

‘It’s more difficult to communicate with a patient about recommendations,’ one respondent wrote.

Dr Alice Boghosian said that there is a time and place for most things, but texting or talking in the dental chair is a breach of etiquette.

‘I’m not militant about it because I know that there are parents with kids in school who need to be in touch with their kids at times,’ she said. ‘However, one young patient of mine had to interrupt me when his phone was buzzing in his pocket.’