Thursday, September 12, 2013
A Trip to the Dentist
This year, however, my dental issues have been things I'd postponed addressing for as long as possible. One of those issues was getting a crown for an upper molar that had broken almost ten years ago and a previous dentist has built up with amalgam as a temporary fix. The amalgam had begun to crack, so this year would be the year of the new crown.
I do not have dental insurance. My first question always is how much will this procedure cost? My dentist offered to provide me with a written estimate that she e-mailed to me the next day. Armed with that estimate, I could now plan for that expense.
Communication is as important between dentist and patient as it is between medical doctor and patient. The dentist I see now is relatively new to me, and I have not figured out her communication style yet. I do not doubt her expertise as a dentist. What sometimes irritates me is a practice most dentists do but are smoother at it than this dentist, i.e. scheduling a procedure at the same time that another patient is getting a cleaning and check-up, leaving the procedure patient at a natural break and doing the check-up, then returning to the procedure. My dentist, during my initial procedure to prepare my molar for the crown, left me twice and not really at natural breaks -- at least I didn't see them as natural breaks in the procedure. How to deal with this? I honestly don't know. I suppose I could complain, but I doubt it would make much difference and would earn me a reputation as being a complainer about things that don't concern me. Except this one does concern me. I need to think about this.
Another communication issue was not including me in choosing the color/shade for the new crown. I've had detailed conversations in the past with dentists who've given me crowns about the color I wanted for the new one. If I'd realized that she had not asked me about the color while I was still in the office, I would have brought it up. Perhaps I should have called her to let her know my preference. As so often happens, my busy schedule interfered and I never called. My bad.
All kinds of things block effective communication. We forget to ask. An interruption distracts. Someone looks like she has it covered. The point is that it's important to speak up, take the initiative to start the discussion, or in the case of my dentist, remember the patient may have something to say about it. No one is perfect! I did my best to help after I observed the dentist and figured out what I needed to do. She wasn't going to ask me. I would need to volunteer the information in a way that wouldn't annoy her or hurt her feelings.
Think of your dentist as being an important part of your medical team. After all, unhealthy teeth can affect the rest of your body in bad ways.....