I knew that dentistry was important to society on a theoretical level when I began to consider it as a possible career back in high school and college. I also knew that dentists took their share of jokes dealing with cost of care (“Bet I’m paying for your new boat, Doc”) and pain (“Don’t take this wrong, but I hate dentists…”). For this reason, I would have been content to work quietly in the social fabric background of San Antonio helping my individual patients and living with a reputation as one who inflicts pain — both physical and financial.
But along came a dentist-friend who happens to think outside of the boxes I, and all the rest of dentistry, had been living within. He offered me the opportunity of working with him to take patients whose teeth were terminal and transition them rapidly and with incredible accuracy into new teeth. And although the technology is cool, that’s not what I want to write to you about here. I want to tell you what it has done to some of the patients we have treated. For example, you see the picture above? That patient lived with constant dental pain for 10 years prior to seeing us. But to her, the pain of the toothaches was preferred over seeing a dentist. Can you relate? Most dentists and others within dentistry frankly have a hard time with this. We are, after all, in our own minds, wonderful caring people. Most of it is due to childhood trauma — some of which was inflicted no doubt by dentists, but we were not the only ones. Some of it is generational fear. Children pick up fear from their parents or other influential people in their lives. Also, FYI, if you wait to go to a dentist until you have a toothache, dental anesthetic’s effects can be diminished. In other words, it’s a lot easier getting a healthy person numb compared with someone with a dental infection. Life sometimes has a way of giving us what we most fear (but that’s another discussion).
Often people who see what we do, taking all of someone’s teeth out and placing dental implants, assume that there is a great deal of pain in the process. I know that’s logical, but it doesn’t happen to be particularly true. For example again, the patient whose picture is in this post, told me the day after the big procedure that this was the first day in ten years she did not have a toothache. Sure there was some soreness, but that was mostly from sore lips. And do you know what we gave her for pain mediation? Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
I have had a number of patients say to me before we get started that they have been looking forward to this day. Think about it. What does it mean? It means that some people are so tired of dental pain or hate their dental problems so much that they are ready to move on.
We have a male patient who was divorced 15 years ago. He is in his late 40’s now. In all that time he has not dated anyone because he was embarrassed by how his teeth looked. We just learned he is now dating.
Another patient was recently divorced and went through the transition in order to start dating again as well. She is now engaged to be married. She met her fiance at their 40 year high school reunion.
Last one. We have a patient who has not been able to have a job involving the public for years because of her front teeth. She has a job now as a waitress.
Life-changing dentistry also changes dentists’ lives. Very cool.