Top Ten Best/Worst Excuses Not to Go to the Dentist

Every once in awhile, I like to take a break from talking about all the mommy stuff and the toddler stuff and the heavy life decision stuff, and write a post about what takes up most of my day: being a dentist. I know I have a lot of dental readers who enjoy them, so, this one’s for you guys!

Being a dentist can be tough unless you don’t mind being pretty unpopular. It’s a universal truth that we all have to face: people just don’t want to come see us. And let me tell you, patients will come up with pretty much anything to get out of coming to the dentist.

The following is a list of the best (worst?) excuses I’ve heard to cancel or miss a dentist appointment. (Most of them are from my own personal experience with my patients… All of whom I love dearly, of course.)

10. “I forgot how to get there.”
Here, let me introduce you to this thing called a map. Or a GPS. Or Google. Or just your memory of the route from when you drove here last week.

9. “I have really bad gas.”
This excuse came complete with excessive detail about how she stunk up her whole house in ten minutes and she couldn’t stop “tooting”. I’m so sorry, but “I’m not feeling well” would suffice. We are dentists for a reason: we don’t care to hear about your other end. Ever.

8. “I don’t need to come back. I don’t have any teeth anymore.”
Right, but you might want us to continue to screen you for a little thing called oral cancer and besides, dentures need maintenance. If you had a prosthetic arm you’d want it checked out every now and then, wouldn’t you? Same goes for prosthetic teeth.

7. “I couldn’t find parking.”
Granted, parking at the hospital where I work is pretty terrible. But there’s always parking for patients, and even if the patient lots were full, I’m confident a person could find one parking spot in the entire hospital campus, which is the size of a small town. Either way, if you have a hard time finding parking, you show up late– you don’t just panic and leave.

6. “I don’t need to come in anymore. I got that tooth out myself, at home, with my Swiss Army knife.”
Yeah. Just… No.

5. “My car broke down.”
Okay, this one is acceptable. Once. Maybe twice. I’d even give it to you three times, being the kind of person for whom oil changes are rarer than a solar eclipse. One of my friends in dental school had a patient who tried it five times. The fifth time, she told him, “Maybe you should get a new car.” “Maybe I should get a new dentist,” he snapped. “At this point,” she said, “you’re gonna have to.”

4. “My house burned down.” Really. Your house burned down? A less dramatic made-up excuse would do, like, “I have a cold”, or “I can’t get the time off work”. Using an excuse like that to get out of having a filling done is like killing a housefly with a grenade. (Although in this case, I googled the patient’s address and it turns out her house really did burn down, so actually this isn’t funny at all, in the end…)

3. “I have a toothache.”
Patient: I’m sorry, I can’t come in tomorrow, I’m feeling terrible.
Dentist: Oh, I’m so sorry! Thanks for calling, though. What are you sick with? Stomach bug? It’s going around.
Patient: No. I have a terrible toothache.
(Good luck fixing that at home… Wait, no, I just remembered that number 6 actually happened so I was only kidding, please come in.)

2. “I’m in jail.”
Overhead page: Dr. Landry to the front desk for a phone call.
Me: Hello, this is Dr. Landry.
Patient: Hi, I’m definitely not going to make it to my appointment today. I’m in jail.
Me: …You used your one phone call to call your dentist?
Patient: I don’t have a lot of friends.

1. Being deceased.
It might be a little unsettling to come in to work, look at your schedule, and see a line through your denture patient’s name with the word “DECEASED” next to it… But at least we can’t really argue with it.

So, fess up: have you ever made up something crazy to get out of a dental appointment? Dental people, got any better ones than mine?

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  1. by me

    On January 22, 2012 at 1:51 am

    LMAO. Especially No. 8. I love that one! Thanks for a good laugh.

  2. by Britt

    On January 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I once called in day of to cancel, claiming insurance issues.. which was partially true, and partially i didn’t like my “new” dentist and the fact that his equipment was worse than the dentist in small town Wyo where I grew up. It’s 2012 and you are in a city, gear up dude..

  3. by Candy

    On January 23, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Haha!! Those are some good ones!! We had a patient once that was trying to get pregnant and called to cancel her appointment stating that the time and date of her appointment wasn’t good because that was when she was going to have to be “doing it”. Really just I simple “I can’t make it that day” would have been just fine!

  4. by Adi

    On January 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    So funny story, my pt just called me last week and told me her house burned down… I guess it’s not so funny, but when my other pt said he was “in the hospital” but clearly just hung over, I was waiting for another to call and tell me his dog ate his denture and he wouldn’t be able to make it

  5. by Erinn

    On January 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I’ve never backed out of a dental appointment. Seriously. One cleaning every 6 months is hardly that difficult…And bonus, they make your next appointment 6 months in advance you have plenty of time to get the day off. On the flip side of that, I’ve never had a filling or any other major dental issue, and the worst thing that ever happened to my mouth was getting my wisdom teeth extracted. But I did all 4 at the same time so I would never have to do it again.

    I once had to cancel a filling for my husband, because he had to work. So I called them like a week in advance and told them he had to work.

    I’m so boring…

  6. by missy

    On January 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    unfortunately, I have no dental coverage and am a single mother of 2 beautiful girls and just cannot afford to go at this time. I urge all those with insurance to take advantage of it and see their dentists regularly!

  7. by Harmony

    On January 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Twice in my office we’ve had a patient come in for their appointment, fill out their paperwork and then say “I’m going to my car to get something” and walk out and never come back!

  8. by Ann

    On January 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I really don’t mind going to the dentist, I like my dentist and all the folks in the practice and he has held my hand through crowns and fillings (postpartum… Turns out the old wives tale about tooth problems after pregnancy is true?). BUT, I was supposed to go in for an appointment a few months ago, an I had it written down for Thursday, the 24th. Now, I KNEW TUESDAY was the 24th, but I totally blanked on reconciling my day and date, so I felt like a total idiot when they called me on the 24th asking why I wasn’t there! At least everyone was good natured about it when I saw them the next week!

  9. by Berit Thorkelson

    On January 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    #9 is great for so many situations, really… Quite versatile.

  10. by Wendi

    On January 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I work in a pharmacy. You should here the excuses we get for people needing their Vicodin (or as they say “VICO-DANS”) early. Or their Viagra (or as they say “MY SEX PILLS”)I’ve heard they were stolen, house burned down, left on the bus, dropped them in the toilet, dropped them down the sink, my dog ate them. The list goes on and on! One guy even needed his Viagra early because he was going to assist in the rescue efforts when hurricaine Katrina hit!

  11. by Brenda

    On January 26, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I had an excellent excuse for missing a dental appointment. I was in the hospital recovering from having an emergency appendectomy the previous evening. I had to call my dentist and tell them why I could not come in. They have a policy of charging your account $25 for canceling the day of an appointment. I don’t think the receptionist believed me until my doctor spoke with her, but the $25 fee was waived.

  12. by S

    On January 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    My “excuse” happens to be true. I have life-long horrible anxiety and haven’t been to a dentist since I was 17 (I’m in my 30s now). I stopped taking meds for it when I was 18, because I felt like they were causing heart issues (it turned out to be esophageal spasms). There are other valid reasons for the anxiety, that I’d rather not put in public.
    But anyway, even if I’m able to make an appointment, I get so sick in the parking lot before I can even go in. It’s surprising how many dentists are not sympathetic to my condition and don’t try to help w/o being a complete jerk about it. I’m pretty sure abscesses (and healing with antibiotics from the ER) are eventually going to do me in. I hate thinking about that but I just can’t get across how much of an issue I have with dentist office. It’s honestly so bad that I have to have someone else take my son to the dentist because I don’t want him to see what it does to me. If you have any ideas on how I can deal with it, other than the typical “get over it” thing that doesn’t work, I’d LOVE to read it. I have a similar but not as severe issue with doctors, so it’s lucky I don’t get seriously ill very often.

    (sorry for rambling!)

  13. by Julia

    On January 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    S, may I email you at the email address you left with your comment? I think I can help :) or, at least, I hope I can…

  14. by S

    On January 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    That would be very much appreciated, thank you!
    I have to say that that pic freaked me out and I scroll VERY fast down the page & hope it loads quickly lol.

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