Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THIS Is Why I Do Dentistry

If I polled all of you about what you like most about our profession, I’d likely get a variety of responses, including:
...every day is different
...I pick and choose which treatments I provide
...the predictable hours
...the money
...owning my own business

Don’t get me wrong, those are all viable reasons for loving a profession, and ours in general. However, there’s one thing that stands out most to me over my nearly five years as a practitioner—the people. Wow! I already have more stories than I could spend a week telling.

Believe it or not, I’m not wired as an extravert or someone who is recharged by social stimulation. It’s something I have to constantly work at, especially since I meet, greet, and small talk with close to 30 patients, not to mention my staff, on a daily basis.

It’s been an interesting journey through dental school and into private practice, learning to manage the clinical, as well as social/patient-management, aspects of dentistry. But it’s something I’ve fallen in love with, something that keeps me pouring that morning cup of joe and getting to work on time (which if you know me, actually NEVER happens) each and every day. The relationships I’ve built with patients have been such a blessing. I could talk about a number of people in particular, but since it’s so fresh in my mind (We finished today!), I thought I’d tell you a little about “Bob.”

Bob came to me on a Tuesday in November 2012. He had only a few teeth remaining and wanted “a whole new set.” He wasn’t just looking for teeth he took in and out, but ones that looked, felt, and functioned just like normal teeth. And not just that, but he wanted them like right then and there—so much so that we performed surgery just two days later. This is where Bob’s case got difficult—and where it got fun.

I love it when you go to one of those continuing education (CE) seminars in which the lecturing dentist or specialist shows the beautiful, picture-perfect esthetic cases to all those attending; it must be an instant ego boost for them. It’s the same idea with Facebook. You, I, and all our friends post the coolest, most impressive snippets of our lives for everyone to see. It’s awe-inspiring and depressing at the same time.

This story is not like that. For the better part of a year and a half, Bob and I have met at least two or three times per month, working on his esthetics case. During that time, we had a failed implant that had to be replaced, I went on vacation for a month, he traveled for work, and my lab dropped the ball when we were just about to finish the case, setting us back an additional few months. You get the picture.

This was no “ego boost, show it off to your peers at the local study club” kind of case. My assistants seriously had enough of me and my patient on multiple occasions. It was quite a learning experience and a case (and patient) that I’ll never forget. It wasn’t perfect; I could have changed 50 things about the case from start to finish. However, that’s not the point.

We persevered, gained a new appreciation for patience, and learned an absolute ton along the way. Through it all though, I made a friend. My staff made a friend. Bob made many friends. As crazy as it sounds, I’ll miss seeing Bob every week, being perplexed as to why the framework STILL DOESN’T FIT FOR THE TENTH TIME! Though I’m sure he won’t miss the hours spent in the chair—many of them snoring!

I wouldn’t trade these types of experiences for anything. Other dentists might tell you otherwise, but THIS is why I do dentistry!

Donald Murry III, DMD

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