Success in Dentistry...
Dentistry is a people profession. Ask your dentist why she or he got into the practice of fixing teeth and I’ll bet that nine out of ten will say it had something to do with a passion for their fellow man. Answers like, “My Uncle Joe was a dentist and a mentor,” or “I wanted a career helping people,” will be quite common. At the end of the day most dentists practice, not for fame or fortune, but because they strive to help people.
Each day, a variety of personalities sit in our dental chairs. Some are happy or sad or hurting or mad. Others bring cupcakes or pecans or hugs or a history of bad dental experiences they’d like to forget. We see patients who glow with warmth from within and others who cannot seem to find happiness. No matter who, what, or why; we do our best to treat everyone fair and try to help them leave better off than they came. At the end of the day, that’s really all that any of us can do in life...leave things a little better off than they were the day before.
Each person brings to the dental office their own set of teeth problems or concerns they would like addressed. Upon examination, there are often other underlying issues that patients didn’t even know were there. This is similar to going to a doctor for a physical and finding that you have high blood pressure or a thyroid problem or diabetes. Early stages of gum disease and tooth decay are rarely painful. Just because it doesn’t hurt yet, doesn’t mean it’s not there or doesn’t need to be treated.
In many cases, the first sign of coronary heart disease is sudden death. I’d be happy and grateful if my doc caught that problem and helped me to treat it before the first sign. Along the same lines (but way less dramatic), it is more effective to treat cavities and gum disease before teeth hurt or break or become loose.
For any person or set of teeth or dental problem, there are usually several ways to go about treating the problem. There is truly an art and a science to medicine, especially dentistry. Each treatment option will have it’s pros and cons that should be understood and discussed. Questions and knowledge are good for patients to have. An informed decision is often a good one. Dental teams strive to inform and educate their patients more than most any profession I know.
In dental school, we are taught to strive for perfection. Success is often defined in millimeters and microns and radiographic findings that most patients could care little about. On the other hand, for patients, success is often defined by: (1) Did it hurt? (2) Does it still hurt? (3) Can I eat? and (4) Do I like the look of the teeth I can see in the mirror?
All dental teams have to do is reconcile all of the above into a comfortable, affordable, customized lifetime plan that fits into each patient’s priorities and schedule.
That’s easier to do when you like people.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send questions and comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.