Sometimes a local dentist’s job is just to care enough
Being a local dentist you gain special insights to people’s lives in ways that other professionals don’t.
For a start, you are working in people’s mouths.
On a good day, that can be pretty confronting for a patient, but faced with a challenging dental condition, getting up close and personal with a dentist can invoke fear in even the hardiest among us.
This makes genuine, heartfelt patient care all the more important as a dentist.
Why is patient care from a local dentist important?
Not to be skipped over or considered a warm, fuzzy tactic, genuine patient care can really make a difference in the lives of patients. It can also make a difference in the life of the professional providing the care.
I am reminded of this regularly in my work. This happened most recently when I treated a man who came to me with challenging dental circumstances.
In his mid-fifties he already had partial dentures and the teeth that remained weren’t in great shape. The condition of his teeth and his oral health generally meant he regularly experienced a lot of discomfort and pain. It was obvious it was a source of angst and he wanted a solution.
When he came in for his appointment, he’d his mind made up he wanted all his remaining teeth removed and full dentures fitted. This is a drastic course of action for anyone, but especially in a relatively young. If he decided to follow through on this decision, he would likely spend the next 20 or 30 years experiencing even more pain and discomfort.
For me, it wasn’t the way go. So what did I do?
Firstly, I acknowledged his circumstances. I could completely understand his line of thinking. Often the path that gives us short term relief holds the greatest appeal because it gives us the quick fix we’re looking for. Unfortunately, in the long term, it can backfire.
I felt this would be the case for my patient if he decided to chose that option. As a result, I created another picture for him.
I showed him that we could treat a number of his immediate concerns by alleviating some of the discomfort, while at the same time taking good care of his remaining teeth.
I described how if he committed to a program of good oral hygiene and care from this point forward, there would a good chance he’d get another four to five years out of those teeth (and possibly longer) before having to invest in major restorative treatment.
We talked through what that treatment would look like and the probable costs for investing in it. With this understanding, some immediate treatment and an interim program of care and maintenance, my patient was able to leave the practice feeling more confident and comfortable that there was a way forward he could manage, personally, financially and in terms of this health.