Dentists are not what I like to call patients’ “favorite people.” There are few who embrace dental hygiene and show up faithfully to their six-month checkups with a smile on their faces and a skip in their steps. For the most part, like eating your vegetables and exercising, going to the dentist is just on most people’s “must do” list. When I tell people what I do for a living, I either get enthusiastic approval, and I can’t tell if it is genuine or not, or a grimace and a statement of how they don’t love going to the dentist.
I’ve been in practice for about five years, and a few weeks ago, for the first time ever, I had a patient ask if he could hug me. I was a little surprised at first, but it didn’t take me long to agree. This man had just completed a more than two-year treatment that included orthodontics and some restorative work. I had briefly suggested this treatment the first time he came into the office for health and cosmetic reasons, not thinking much of it. On the day he completed the treatment, here he was thanking me for making this suggestion and giving him the smile he always wanted.
It’s so easy to get discouraged in our line of work. Patients sometimes complaining about things beyond our control, making unreasonable demands, and not listening to our instructions can make us feel like we are losing our minds. No matter what the outcome, we are all out there every day, just trying to do our best. It is nice to feel appreciated by our patients.
If you are reading this and have had a great experience with a health care provider, I encourage you to let them know the next time you go to see them! It will put a smile on their faces, a warm feeling in their hearts, and the desire to do an even better job tomorrow than they did today. I don’t think anyone would turn down a hug; just make sure you ask first!
Lilya Horowitz, DDS, FAGD