May I get you anything? Are you doing okay? Do you need anything to drink? How do you feel? Did I hurt you? I’m sorry that hurts. Let me give you a few minutes to relax and get comfortable. Do you want to watch a movie or television? What type of music would you like?
No, this is not a snapshot from a 1960’s airline training video or a chapter in a parenting manual. It’s the nature of conversation that I was privileged to encounter during my recent dental adventures at two of Denver, CO’s finest dental professionals.
Having experienced the impersonal and somehow institutional dental exercises at some of the dental farms, the revelation that true and human dentistry still flourishes in my city is a welcome one. You have either seen or visited one of these dental clinics and for fear of unfair generalization, they are often lacking in the personal and home town flavor associated with “my dentist.”
I am certain that many of the professionals who dwell there do so because private practices (malpractice insurance included) are prohibitively expensive and frequently impractical. And certainly it is to be assumed that many caring and highly educated dentists practice in these clinics. In other words, there is no insult intended or implied.
But there is occasion to identify two (comparatively young) dental artisans who were presented a pair of my homegrown chewing devices that were in serious need of care and compassion. Thankfully, I did not need to look far for that level of talent combined with gentle clinical skills characteristic of a pediatrician or neurosurgeon.
In both cases, I was welcomed to the dental chair with a degree of solicitousness that amazed and delighted me. With deliberate analysis having been completed, serious attention was paid to the economy of procedures to be delivered and the ultimate priority of delivering the best and finest care to my teeth. Equal to that, however, was the respect with which I was treated. Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of receiving medical or dental care as if we were as capable of understanding and sensitivity as punching bags. But that was not to be the approach in these encounters.
My entire treatment procedure was carefully and deliberately articulated by both dentists. Approval was requested, understanding was verified and questions were specifically and intelligently answered. Perhaps the response that I receive is in some way associated with the respect that I dispense? This is likely the case in terms of the questions asked but surely not so in terms of the kind, concerned treatment.
And what is the lesson to be learned? We as patients are fortunate to stumble upon justifiable trust in dentistry as in any other profession requiring advanced studies and dedicated professionalism. Trust to these two dentists is (apparently) the value of each patient, his or her needs and the responsibility that is implicit to a patient sitting in his chair.
If the trust that I have in my professional dental team is predicated on more than the degrees posted in their lobbies, rightfully so. As a consumer, I earnestly hope that these are prototypes rather than exceptions and that we have reason to hope for the future of exceptional professional services that encompass human care rather than deleting or subordinating it.