Other People’s Conversations

Do you ever overhear a totally ridiculous dental conversation – one where you just want to run over to the person speaking and punch them? Even though we are very non-violent, it seems to happen all the time. Here is a conversation that was actually overheard at our local diner last week. (In Madow vernacular, overhearing someone else’s conversation is called OPC’ing.)

Ignoramus A: “Yeah – I went to the dentist yesterday. He totally ripped me off. Don’t even know why he needed an x-ray, the filling was just on the top of the tooth.”

Ignoramus B: “Well, they gotta make as much money as they can. Those x-rays are a scam.”

Ignoramus A: “And all of that money goes right into his pocket. That hygienist probably rents space from him and pays him even more.”

Ignoramus B: “My dentist tried to get me for a root canal last year. I told him just to pull it. I’m not paying for that guy’s fancy car.”

And on and on. We’ve all heard this stuff many times! But as wrong as these people are, we suspect that some of these conversations could be avoided if the doctor or assistant took a little more time to give a meaningful and easy to understand explanation for everything that was being done. For example, instead of just saying:

“Please open a little wider so we can ram this uncomfortable plastic x-ray holder with a knife edge on the bottom down your throat,”

Try something like…

“Since this tooth has a cavity, there is even a greater chance that there is more decay on a side surface that we can’t see or touch. This quick little x-ray will show us the entire tooth so that we can do this filling right the first time and make sure all of the decay is removed.”

And then….

“Great news! The x-ray has shown us that the decay is limited to just the top surface. That means you won’t need a large filling or a crown!”

Now is this person ever going to complain to their friend about the money-grubbing dentist taking unnecessary x-rays? Possibly, but the chances are much lower!

Bottom line – always remember that what is totally routine to us could be a new and possibly frightening situation to the patient. Always take a few extra seconds to let them know exactly what is going on and why. It pays off big time!!!

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