Hi everyone and happy new year from Davis, California! Let’s hope this year will be as great as we all wish. I am excited to go on this adventure, sharing with you clips from my professional and personal experience, and I look forward to yours too.
Personal grooming, in any form, is an important requirement of the modern professional environment and the personal lives of almost all patients. That applies to us and our staff, too. We have been so appreciative of how many patients are aware that lipstick can get on our gloves and instruments and how it makes it hard for us to do our job well. These patients will ask for a tissue to wipe off their lipstick before their dental treatment and reapply it at the end of their appointment.
Recently, my assistant realized that she forgot to ask a patient to wipe off her lipstick before I administered anesthetic to numb her tooth for a filling. We rarely have to ask our patients to do so. She was surprised that the lipstick did not stick to my gloves, something that I did not notice at all. My assistant told the patient that she liked her lipstick and that she had been looking for such a product.
With a great smile, the patient took her lipstick out of her purse and showed it to my assistant. She explained that one end has lipstick and the other end has gloss. The patient does water aerobics and this is a particular brand seems to not wash off while she is in the water.
I took off my dental professional hat and engaged myself in the ongoing conversation. I do not usually ask my patients directly what their hobbies are. Generally, my conversation is somehow directed that way every time. A simple question about lipstick led to talking about water aerobics and ended with a demonstration of putting on lipstick. I paid close attention to this demonstration; I have a 2-year-old daughter and I am sure that I will be exposed to more of these concerns in the future.
A simple conversation like this does not tarnish the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. On the contrary, it strengthens it. There are many opportunities at our fingertips that we should not miss. It is our interest in the little things in our patients’ lives that opens the doors of communication and demonstrates our human side, that we are not robots with drills.
Our patient had a couple of laughs after such an unexpected conversation about lipstick in the dental chair. We then told her that we may share her lipstick story with others online. She was excited by the idea and certain that many people would want to know about this lipstick. When her treatment was completed, she left the treatment room without having to reapply her lipstick. As she was signing the photograph release form, she said, “That is hilarious,” and walked out laughing. What a great end to a dental visit!
Have a great weekend.
Samer Alassaad, DDS