I Saved His Teeth —No Drill




Ralph had a dilemma.  He was in severe pain and had lots of dental fear and “no money.”  But he wanted to save his teeth.  I guess that’s more like a tri-lemma or a quad-lemma.  According to the dictionary, a lemma is a premise or a theory.  Ralph had three or four premises working against each other.  Anyway, he was not happy when I first met him.

Have you met many Ralph’s in your practice?  I guess so.  One thing about these issues – pain always wins.  Pain beats fear, pain beats money and pain beats time.

This is a moment of truth…not for the patient, but for the dentist.  Let me explain.

Most dentists, when a new patient arrives, look at the patient’s mouth and see a final result.  Their vision of a beautiful smile overcomes them and they start presenting dentistry, either in a positive or negative way.  But the dentist who is concerned with real change, and making a real difference will step inside the shoes of the patient and see the world from their point of view.

Ralph has been unemployed for three years.  His financial picture looks bleak.  Through further conversation we come to find out that Ralph said he had “no money” and he was jobless…but he has a home and a wife who works.  This doesn’t make him Rockefeller but he still wants to keep his teeth.

So what does Ralph really need?

If you said a plan, you are right.  Ralph needs a long-term plan.  A long term treatment plan that will take into account his financial circumstances.

This may sound obvious, but I don’t think it is common practice.  Creating plans and having in depth discussions are not what many dentists enjoy doing.  They like to fix teeth.

Yet…the real “art” of dentistry lies in the ability of the professional to effect real change.  That’s what artists do—they create—they create change.

Too many dentists think the art of dentistry lies in their veneers or their bonding.  I disagree.  Dentists call themselves artists…yes, even patients refer to them as artists, when most dentistry isn’t art at all.

When I ask dentists how they can be more creative in their practices, I mostly get blank stares.

Today, I used the Art of Examination and the Art of Case Presentation to help Ralph make a decision.  A first step.  That is not what he woke up thinking this morning…and I made those changes…created that change without picking up my drill.






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