Saying Goodbye to Problematic Dental Patients

Just as some of your patients wait too long to seek treatment for an infection, your dental practice may wait too long at times to dismiss problematic patients. And the delay is understandable. You work hard to attract and retain patients, and you go the extra mile to accommodate people’s needs and make them feel comfortable in your practice. One of the last things you want to do is close the door on someone.

Dentist, team and patient

However, ignoring the problem typically makes the situation worse. Whether the issues are from behavioral patterns, non-compliance with treatment or payment, failure to keep appointments, and/or other challenges, one of the best moves you can typically make is to dismiss the patient from your practice.

Assuming the situation is fairly straightforward, send the patient a formal dismissal letter, keeping it short and to the point. Let the patient know you will no longer be his/her dentist of record, make recommendations, if appropriate, regarding pending treatment that needs addressing, and wish the patient the best of luck.


If you are in the middle of treatment or if there are extenuating circumstances, contact your local board of dentistry and your malpractice carrier to double check the best course of action to take.

Problematic patients add stress to you and your team that is not needed, especially if you allow the situation to go on for too long. One of the best things you can do for your practice is to say goodbye to problematic patients in order to focus your energy on the patients who appreciate you.

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