DEAR ABBY: How does one convey a message to one's dentist and his assistants that you would prefer they not discuss personal matters with each other while working on me?
I recognize that they may be so well-trained that they can converse and do these procedures at the same time. But talking over the patient gives the impression that they aren't fully concentrating on the business at hand.
Sitting in the dentist's chair with your mouth propped wide open, it's impossible to say a word. How can this be conveyed in a respectful way? -- DENTALLY DISTRESSED IN MILWAUKEE
DEAR DISTRESSED: One way to get your message across would be to wait until the procedure is finished, then tell your dentist that you feel being treated like a nonentity is rude and insensitive, and you would prefer it not happen when you're in the chair. If you don't have the courage to say it directly, then tell it to his office manager.
An alternative would be to take your business to another dentist because this one needs to practice better chair-side manners. If that's not acceptable, consider bringing an iPod and listening to it to drown out their voices.