Mishmeres Hasholom: Ask the Rav

Q: A while ago, I was treated by a new dental hygienist who started working at the clinic I use, and I wasn’t satisfied. In my opinion, her work was too aggressive and caused me pain that lasted several weeks. (I’ve undergone similar treatments in the past and never experienced such a thing.)

Now I need another appointment with a dental hygienist. I’d like to have the secretary check who treated me last time and ask if they have another hygienist on staff, since I am not interested in going back to the first one. The question is: Is this permissible? Or must I be concerned that this will damage the hygienist and perhaps even make her lose her job?

A: We’ve written several times in this column that a person cannot be judged by a single case. This is true for professionals in all areas: doctors, mohelim, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, contractors, lawyers, etc. Nobody is perfect, and Dovid Hamelech has already attested, “Who can discern mistakes…” Human error is common in every area.

Consequently, in regard to our question, one cannot decide that the new hygienist is not suited to her job. Perhaps, in the midst of her work, her hand was pushed and the result was the acute pain. Therefore, for the meantime, one should not complain about her to the clinic managers, nor blacken her name.

At the same time, the questioner is entitled to avoid being treated by this hygienist. The solution is to call the clinic and ask to check which hygienist had treated her — with the explanation that she has to give the hygienist an answer to some question she’d asked. This will reveal to her the name of the new hygienist. A few days later, she should call under another name and ask which hygienists work at the clinic. Then, she can choose for herself a different hygienist, without concern for lashon hara or avak lashon hara. We should stress that there is no concern for violation of “Distance yourself from falsehood,” because it is being done for the sake of peace.


The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.