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