You have teeth, and because you are no longer a cave-person with a life expectancy of 25 years, you have to look after your teeth. This means visiting a professional dentist who spent six years learning about the hole where the food goes in and the complaints come back out.
I know a dentist, and I was curious to know what we patients do to piss them off. So I asked her/him for a list of 10 things we need to stop doing when we get our chompers serviced.
1. Faux phobias – “It’s nothing against you, but I hate dentists”. I hear this 5+ times a day. I understand that what we do is invasive and can feel unpleasant, but it’s for your benefit. If you plan to live you need to eat so suck it up, it is not that hard.
2. Being told how to do my job – “I’ve had this throbbing toothache for weeks, I think I need just need a filling though”. A filling won’t stop your pain. I’m happy to explain the pathophysiology of your pain if you give me a moment, I’ll do some tests and take an x-ray. “Do I really need an x-ray?” Yes it’s essential to diagnose the issue “My last dentist just placed a filling”. Things have changed a lot since you saw them two years ago. “Can’t you just give me antibiotics?”. This isn’t an infection, it’s inflammation, if you’d let me explai……
3. People who don’t turn up for appointments. Or cancel with an hours notice. That’s like someone approaching you while you’re on your job and saying “I don’t think you should get paid for this hour”. Even being 15 minutes late for your 30 minute appointment is annoying. All you have to do is remember the appointment that we called you to confirm yesterday.
4. It affects my social life – I can’t go on a 3 day bender and roll onto site with an iced coffee and a cigarette to get me through until I few normal again on a Wednesday.
5. People that say they can’t have the chair leant back – “That’s as far as I can go thanks”. You will be in this position for no more than an hour, I have to be in this position for 8 hours a day. My neck already feels like a rusty bike chain. How do you sleep at night?
6. People assume you just want to make money – I became a dentist because I thought it would be practical, science-based and I could help people I know. The costs reflect the extremely high costs of running a clinic and the unique skills and knowledge we studied for years to gain. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
7. People who don’t take responsibility for their health – “My mum and dad both had all their teeth removed before they were 50, I think it’s genetic”. The evidence doesn’t support this. I think bad habits and laziness are more likely to be genetic.
8. Genuine neglect – “You see little Timmy, that’s what you get if you don’t brush like I tell you to”. He’s 4 love, he doesn’t have the dexterity to clean properly. It is your responsibility to ensure he cleans his teeth.
9. Bad science – bad reporting about science and pushing of pseudoscience too. Amalgam fillings and water fluoridation are the big ones. Google will tell you anything you want to find out. Ensure it is peer reviewed before you let it change your beliefs.
10. People with big tongues – They protrude from the corners of their mouths as they sit in the waiting room. They block my vision, they touch everything I touch. They forcefully fight against the gentle contact of my mirror as I try and hold it out of the way of my diamond bur rotating at 36 000 rpm. My fingers ache and I feel sorry for the poor person who has to kiss you.