Friday, May 4, 2012


As I think of what to write today, I have so much going on in this brain of mine that I have a hard time thinking of one topic. So I am going to talk a little about a lot of things.

I had a patient who is retiring in a couple weeks come in yesterday. She had previously seen my dad and was happy with the care she received. She has seven teeth, three on the top and four on the bottom, canines and some premolars. Six years ago she had upper and lower partials made.

There are a couple of things you should know about this story. This patient hasn't been to a dentist since she had the partials made. She is a smoker and generally doesn't care about her teeth. She is in town for a couple weeks and then is moving to the Carolinas to retire. She wanted me to make her new partials so she could have a spare. She is not interested in any fixed, only removable.

I took a look inside and noticed that five of the seven teeth the partials rested on were decayed (all one surface, facials mainly). I told her she needed to have these taken care of and then we could take impressions for the new partials. She agreed.

When she got to the front office, she asked how much insurance would cover. My front desk person went into defensive insurance mode. Isn't it funny how we react to this question? We automatically start treating this patient with kid gloves. My people explained to her that there was a chance that the insurance was not going to cover new partials since she just had partials done six years ago. My staff began to think that this patient wouldn't want the partials if insurance wasn't going to get involved. However, the patient just shrugged and said, "Well, if they don't pay, then I will just pay with a check. Is that okay?” Yes, a check would be great.

But let’s not forget that this patient just doesn't seem to get it. She thinks she could just get new partials and everything will be okay. But she hasn’t see a dentist in five years and she only has SEVEN TEETH. There is a reason you only have seven teeth: you take them for granted. As much as I talked about regular visits and good home care, I don't know if it sunk in.

I had a patient this week pay with cash. We don't get a lot of people paying with cash here. But the weird thing about this patient was that her treatment was $3,810. Who carries four grand on them? I get nervous when I have to take the money bag to the bank. So, I don't know how I would feel carrying $4,000 to the dentist’s office.

On another note ... colleges are done for the semester here in Florida and there is a small break before summer semester begins. I am seeing a bunch of college kids this week. A couple of years ago, I sent a couple of my patients off to college and they wanted to be dentists. I have kept up with them over the years. I saw one of them today and asked how it’s going.

He said he is doing great and getting ready to take bio-chem next year. When I asked if he was still on the pre-dent track, he told me that he is thinking of going to medical school. Then I asked about his friend that I got going in the dental direction. He is also thinking about going to medical school. Then he dropped the bomb: "Actually, medical school is easier to get into than dental school," he said. WHAT?!

Are kids crazy now-a-days? I know this job looks easy from the outside, with good hours and decent pay. But, come on. I have been in this profession for 17 years and I am beaten down. Don't get me wrong. I totally love it—but beaten down nonetheless.

I know guys that are physicians that graduated at the same time I did. Although they work long hours, they drive Maseratis. Not Mercedes, Maseratis. They live in gated communities that won't even let me in. Sure, they might be beaten down too, but I would rather be beaten down in a Maserati.

Ok, the last thing. When I spoke in Tampa, the Kuraray rep was in from Atlanta to see me. When we left each other, he said, "Let’s talk next week." Well a week went by and nothing. Of course, I started to think that he must have hated me and wants to find a way out of this. I was freaking out.

Turns out, he sent an email to his superiors and told them that "This is the kind of guy that we are looking for." Being affirmed is like the greatest feeling. I was on top of the world yesterday. Ladies, listen up. All a man needs is to be affirmed every once in a while. My dad had a staff meeting once to tell everyone in the office that they needed to affirm us in front of the patients more. He said it was for internal marketing purposes, but I know that it was more for him.

But the Kuraray thing is going well. It looks like they are going to sponsor me to speak at the FNDC and maybe work with me on doing a Dental XP course. I’ll keep you posted.

Have a great weekend.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fortunately for our patients we are the "True Believers" that dentistry must be put ahead of all else. Many of our patients have other priorities, other standards, or just believe in "good enough".Hard as it is, we must accept that.
To our patients, we are just their dentists - to us, our patients are the showcases of our healing art.We believe others will judge us if our masterpieces do not display this perfection.

As well, our patients have an influence upon us greater than people think- an individual patient may only spend an hour with us but we spend all day with our collective patients. There is always going to be a personal social investment in our professional interactions. They make our day -how many patients would say that about us?


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