The ethic of our Practice is built on nearly three decades of treating people of all shapes, sizes, ages, origins, religions, sexualities, abilities and disabilities. You get the idea - we're all equal, no matter what our alleged differences. Get under our skins and we're all vulnerable human beings.
Our job is to turn something that can easily be not very nice into a tolerable experience, or even one than is enjoyable!
I was the small child that was gassed by our "family dentist" to have teeth out (twice) and was left psychologically scarred to this day by it. I was the child that endured intolerable pain as fillings were done without local anaesthetic by our "family dentist". And then I was the teenager that had a needle thrown into him like a javelin in the name of pain relief - again by our "family dentist". I was also the young man that had his wisdom teeth out and had to spend an extra night in hospital because I was so ill.
I've even been roughed up by a dentist during a crown preparation - by God that was painful! It really set me back as a patient - I walked around for two years wearing a temporary crown rather than have the tooth fiddled with again. So, I'd say it's good for a practitioner to have a dodgy set of teeth! There's nothing like being on the wrong end of the drill for sharpening the mind!
So, Steve Martin playing the evil dentist in Little Shop of Horrors above - if you've never seen it, I'd recommend it even though it's a consciously cheesy musical. He parodies the stereotype of the dentists that many of us had the misfortune to be treated by.
So, been there, done that. A dentist fails when he or she forgets what it's like to be the poor devil on the wrong end of the procedure. There's nothing more heart-rending than a child in pain. So let's get children as early as we can, get the preventitive advice right and stop the fillings or extractions before they happen. Let's get children to come and play from a very early age. Let's get the relationship established early, so that if your child is unfortunate enough to fall and break their teeth they're not terrified when they arrive at the Practice. Let's get them to regard dentistry as a natural part of life and get them to regard dental people as friends not some sort of demon - and part of that is continuity of staff, not a different face every time you walk in the door.
At the other end of life, why should we be regarded as second class citizens because we're not as young as we were? Look at this next picture! It's from a chap in his 70s. The "nerve" died, so the tooth has been root filled (that's the pink and white bit). But, dead teeth are more brittle, so the can split easily. The tooth has been "pinned" - an old technique to generate a form of scaffolding inside the tooth. It's not "cosmetic dentistry". It's conserving teeth. The metal band around it acts as a mould and then the tooth was filled with adhesives (a modern technique). Young dentists are horrified by pins! Ultimately, the tooth will be crowned when we've made sure the foundations have been a success. This one tooth took hours to do, but he deserved our best efforts . . . . .
People who aren't as young as they were are some of the most complex but interesting people to treat. We think complicated medical histories are a fascinating intellectual challenge, they're not to be regarded as a problem.
We're one of the very rare Dental Practices to have membership of the British Society for Disability and Oral Health. We've had membership since the mid 1990s. The BSDH are the body dedicated to providing care for everyone, no matter what their disabilities. We'll go to the ends of the earth to provide care, but if your needs are so specialised that you need care beyond the scope of general practice, we have the wherewithal to access exactly what you need.
So, the mindset of our Practice is that we passionately think everyone deserves to be treated with understanding, and be treated like a human being - not to be treated like a pay cheque. You know what I mean.
© Hesslewood Lodge Dental Practice 19th November 2015