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These are a few of my favorite (dental) things

Dec. 19, 2018
Dr. Simmons takes a humorous look back at her "favorite" patient conversations of 2018.
Stacey L. Simmons, DDS, Editorial Director of DE's Breakthrough Clinical e-newsletter

"My favorite (dental) things"—well, of course I wrote that facetiously! Why wouldn't I? Dentistry is fun. It's engaging. It's also stimulating—with our patients never ceasing to provide something unexpected for us. Yes, it's our patients who entertain us daily. They give us things to laugh about. They give us things to talk about over cocktails. We learn from them, and they are the people who—how would you say it— make our days..."interesting"?

As we come to the close of the year , it's a good time to look back and remember our favorite dental things. Here are some of my favorite patient conversations of 2018...or at least how I wish they would have gone!


Patient: "I have insurance I want to use up and, I was wondering if I could get all my work done before the end of the year."

Me (with widely open eyes):"While I appreciate your motivation to move forward with restoring your mouth to good oral health, there is just not much time to take care of all your needs between today and tomorrow."

Home care...

Patient: "I had some food stuck in the hole where you pulled my tooth out, and I had to dig around to get it out. But now that area feels like there is an infection."

Me (in my mind I'm rolling my eyes to the back of my head): "If you remember the instruction sheet that I gave you, it specifically listed what you could and couldn't do after an extraction, and picking things out of the extraction site with tweezers was one of the things you were not supposed to do."


Me (with genuine concern): "How long has that tooth been bothering you?"

Patient (looking at me with a very serious face):"Off and on for the last six months, and since the weekend is coming, I thought I would get it looked at…"


Patient: [Mouth wide open and waving hands up and down, pointing towards the suction.]

Me (insert hand to forehead emoji): "That is saliva pooling in your mouth, and it’s really OK to swallow it." (Note: we haven’t started the appointment yet.)

Treatment planning...

Patient (handing you a crown in a gallon-size Ziploc baggie): "My crown fell off, and I just want you to cement it back on."

Me (looking at crown with the entire buildup and pin sticking out the end):"Mrs. Jones, not even the strongest super glue will keep that crown in…"

Insurance, part two...

Patient (with extreme determination in their voice): "I only want to do what my insurance covers…"

Me (cringing, because I know the insurance company somewhere is smiling, because they have this patient hook, line, and sinker): "Mrs. Jones, you need this procedure so you can have the best care possible. Because the insurance company isn't here right now with its consulting dentist to advise otherwise (and I am), we should move forward and you can make any necessary arrangements with my amazing financial coordinator."

And last but not least…

Patient (with his hand on his cheek and a bag of ice melting on his lap): "My tooth hurts really bad and oxycodone is the only thing that will kill the pain..."

Me (looking at him with a scrunched up brow, head cocked to the side, and a quizzical look on my face): "Really? Will you excuse me for a minute? I'll be right back." With one quick call, I've got a confirmed drug-seeker in my chair. I sigh and casually saunter back to the patient…

Yes, it's all in a day's work, my friends. And lest we forget—tomorrow is another day.

Happy holidays, friends, and here's to another amazing year!

Stacey L. Simmons, DDS
Editorial Director, Breakthrough Clinical

LAST MONTH >> High heels and pig jaws with some sun, sand, and surf—dentistry at its finest!

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Breakthrough Clinical, the clinical specialties newsletter of DentistryIQ and Dental Economics.

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Stacey L. Simmons, DDS, is in private practice in Hamilton, Montana. She is a graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry. Dr. Simmons is a guest lecturer at the University of Montana in the Anatomy and Physiology Department. She is the editorial director of PennWell’s clinical dental specialties newsletter, Breakthrough Clinical,and a contributing author for DentistryIQ, Perio-Implant Advisory, and Dental Economics. Dr. Simmons can be reached at [email protected].
About the Author

Stacey L. Simmons, DDS | Editorial Director of DE's Breakthrough Clinical e-newsletter

Dr. Stacey Simmons grew up in Hamilton, Montana. She did part of her undergraduate work at Purdue University and then received her bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Utah. After applying to both medical and dental school, she decided that dentistry was her career of choice. She received her DDS degree from Marquette University School of Dentistry in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2004. In private practice, she focuses her care on prosthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. She is a guest lecturer in the Anatomy and Physiology Department at the University of Montana. Outside the office, she trains for triathlons and spends time with her family. You may contact Dr. Simmons by email at [email protected].

In 2015, Dr. Simmons became the editorial director of DE's Breakthrough Clinical with Stacey Simmons, DDS, an e-newsletter focused on breaking through plateaus in clinical practice. Subscription information may be found here.

Updated May 4, 2016