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Cell Phones and the Dental chair

By Jeffrey Schoenberg DDS

In the past, using cell phones in dental medical offices has been avoided almost altogether as a social norm. But now, as smartphones have become an integral part of our everyday lives, the social norms of using your smartphone at the dentist have changed. Here is everything you need to know to be respectful of your dentist’s practice and fellow patients next time you visit your dentist:

do's and don'ts of using your cell phone at the dentist

In the waiting room

As a rule of thumb, taking phone calls in the waiting room is still generally looked down upon. If you have an important call you need to take, it’s best to excuse yourself by stepping outside or into the hallway to be respectful of the staff and other patients. However, pretty much all other smartphone activities are fine, except for watching loud videos or filming other patients for your social media.

In the operatory

Many patients believe that it is not appropriate to use your phone while in the operatory, or getting worked on. This is a polite gesture, but it’s not always necessary. We understand that many of our patients are still technically “working” when they are in my operatory, and their livelihood depends on their ability to respond to important emails regardless of where they are and what they are doing.

Of course, it is not ideal for patients to be texting while we are performing an important procedure, but there are always breaks for you if you need to respond to an important call or email. Please don’t be shy to ask if you can use it. It would be a shame if you missed out on an important opportunity, or failed to be there when you were needed, just because I was cleaning your teeth and you thought you couldn’t stop me for a couple minutes!

Social Media

Another aspect of smartphones becoming an integral part of our lives is the emergence of social media. Now that everyone is documenting their entire lives, many people are curious whether or not they can document their lives while at the dentist. As a general rule of thumb, it is always best to ask your dentist or staff if they are comfortable with appearing on your Instagram stories, feeds, or otherwise. Chances are your dentist will love it!