Preventive Dentistry :: Planning for Longevity
Recently, at a dinner party, a new acquaintance was seated at my end of the table. As we talked I found out that Bob was a retired Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a medium size manufacturing company with millions in sales. He traveled extensively in his career and had many experiences in dental offices. The conversation felt a bit like a confessional! Within minutes I felt as I could fill in the past history of his dental records.
He said, "You know the thing that impresses me most about dentists is how quickly they make decisions." Trying to find the compliment in the statement that he had just made and hoping he thought dentists to be of high intelligence, I queried, Quick decisions?" He went on to tell me and sometimes to show me between bites of food, the crowns that I had already noticed as he expressed himself.
He said, "It always impressed me that when I went into the dental office with a broken tooth, the dentist would have a quick look around and then tell me I needed a crown. Sometimes he was ready to do it on the spot!" Reeling from the events of this mealtime discussion, I responded, "Sounds like you have had quite a bit of dentistry done in your mouth." Bob replied, "Well. yes I have."
Other things had come out in the conversation. He was an accomplished golfer with a six handicap. He had a home in the city and a condominium in Florida and each residence had the identical set of golf clubs. All were recently updated, matched, swing-weighted custom sets. My mind was spinning thinking about the gap between those matched set of clubs and his unmatched set of teeth!
How could I get his attention? I said in trying to refocus myself, "Tell me about how you made decisions as a CFO in your business." "Decisions," Bob went on. "Well, I take a good look at the short and long term impact of the decisions, the cost of capital necessary - both short and long term and the risk/reward potential to the bottom line of the company."
"Sounds like you study the problem and/or opportunity with reflection and quite a bit of detail. You slow down and take the necessary time to uncover the best decision," I responded. "Well, yes, of course, they would be important decisions and they would take time," Bob replied. "Quite honestly, Bob, that is exactly what I do so that I become more reflective, affective and effective with my patients.
I could see he was thinking about this. I thought I could bring the conversation around to his dental condition. "Bob, let's compare you to your sets of golf clubs." He was listening. "It's as if, when you were a young man, God gave you a set of new golf clubs. As a dentist, I call them teeth. You used them through the years as you refined your golf game, but in time you broke the 9-iron. You went to the Pro Shop and tried to get a new one. It was a 9-iron, of course, but the grip, the shaft and the swing weight were not quite the same as your original set. It was okay; you knew how to adjust, if you remembered to accommodate for the differences. However, as time went on, you had the same experience with your 7-iron, the 4-iron, the pitching wedge and your favourite wood. In time you were adjusting your swing and stance every time you used a club. You noticed that there were times when certain muscles would get sore and that, too, would get in the way of your swing until finally you decided to get fitted with a whole new set of clubs." I continued, "You went to a professional who put you through a whole series of tests and thorough evaluations to diagnose and plan the best solutions that fit your uniqueness. And you not only got one completely new set of golf clubs, you got two. "You see, there are so many dentists who believe that you, a very busy man - a Driver so they think - want them to get you into and out of the dental office with dispatch. They respond in a crisis mode to your event. In the best interest of my patients, I slow down the process, I am as thorough as you would be in your decision-making. In the short range and long range, it is be better for all concerned," I concluded.
I believed he finally understood his present dental condition. As we said good night and shook hands, Bob said, "Would you be so kind as to give me your business card?"
There are too many dentists who encourage you to adopt a crisis or reactive system for your dental care for lack of any other option they can offer. I would encourage you to wonder about the dentistry you have received and wonder if being proactive has a place in your dental care.