During my presentation last Friday I showed the group a radiograph with a class two lesion and asked them to choose “Fill it or Watch It?” It’s a fun exercise to experience the thought process behind clinical treatment recommendations. After the program, taking the escalator down to the lobby, Dr. Gary DeWood and I were reflecting on the program and he made a comment that stopped me in my tracks. “ I hate when dentists say they are “watching” something. What are we “watching” it do? I don’t want my physician “watching” my heart disease.” I realized how something I have been saying for more than two decades must sound so peculiar to my patients, and doesn’t fit with my philosophy of practice at all. What would I think as a patient when the dentist or hygienist tells me I have a “small cavity, but we are just going to watch it”? I can think of a whole list of things that would go through my head, and most of them do not reflect positively on us as a practice.
Just before we closed the office for the holiday last week I had a patient come in suffering from a dry socket. In the name of full disclosure I must confess I haven’t done an extraction in over a decade. My patients however, do have them done and some experience the sequelae of a dry socket. The tooth had been extracted a few days earlier, and the specialist had packed the dry socket twice before leaving to see family for Thanksgiving. The patient reported the packing had relieved the discomfort, but the relief only lasted about twenty-four hours before the pain returned.
Whether we are working to polish natural teeth after completing an occlusal adjustment or placing a restoration acquiring the final polish is critical. One of the first things a patient will do is explore what has been done in their mouths. I am amused as they feel around in their own mouths with their tongue, other teeth and sometimes fingers. After watching this for so many years, in an attempt to take some of the discomfort out of it, I invite my patients to engage in this part as we sit them up. As we hand them a mirror we ask for their final seal of approval before the appointment has ended, “take a look for us and make sure to feel around your mouth with your tongue to make sure things feel smooth. You also may want to check your bite one last time. If you find anything that doesn’t feel right please let us know.”
This Thanksgiving weekend I am in New York, and today I am speaking at The Greater New York Dental Meeting. Dental Education has been a critical component of my professional and personal life. I know that staying engaged depends on learning for me, and I think this is common amongst dental professionals. In addition to my own learning I spend a good deal of time putting courses together and designing programs that will be beneficial for others. To help me do this more effectively I would love to know your preferences around topics and program logistics. If you follow the link below it will take you to a simple ten question survey that should only take a moment or two to complete. The information is invaluable as I plan for the future, so Thank You for responding. The Survey will open in a new page.
Here in the US we are celebrating Thanksgiving today. For me this is a day of family, friends and giving thanks for all of the many things in my life I am grateful for. This year will be very different, and yet those same things will be present. For the first time ever instead of being home and cooking we are headed off to New York. So today we are having Thanksgiving dinner in Manhattan at “The View” restaurant at the top of the Marriott Marquis. We will still have far more food than we can possibly eat, including turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie. My whole family is together, and we are also with our dear friends the DeWoods ( Gary, Cheryl Tricia, Dale and Katie) and the Carstensens ( Steve and Midge) making an incredible memory.
As always it is a day to reflect on the things I am thankful for, and there are so many. I will take some time alone to reflect and I will also reach out to many very special people in my life and say thank you. If you are celebrating today have a fabulous holiday!!!