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Fred Was Afraid

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Fred had recently retired and broken a tooth. No longer with employer’s insurance, he knew that it would become an expensive repair so he’d decided, in advance, to just have it removed. Fred had never had a tooth extracted in his life. This situation is fairly common, for several reasons that I won’t cover here.

We took an x-ray, while he was seated upright, and found the root intact and the nerve healthy. But Father Time would not keep it this way, unless action was taken. Then it was my job to LISTEN. I put this in capital letters for a reason. I need to feel, personally, what patients are currently going through. Though Fred seemed calm on the outside, he was a bundle of nerves on the inside. The conversation revealed his fear about upcoming discomfort and the concern about his appearance. To him, a “toothless grin” described a poor person. But he also rationalized that retirees are expected to have missing teeth, so maybe his appearance didn’t matter. Then I spent time discussing these perspectives, helping him work through them, and answering any questions. We had a ten-minute conversation, including my plan to make his experience completely pain free. This is our office Promise, for which I am very proud. Finally, we talked about his fear and signals that he could use when we were in his mouth. I gave him a headset for music and dark glasses to wear, and told him to consider our discussion and let my assistant know when he was ready to proceed, and with which option we’d just discussed.

We didn’t remove Fred’s tooth that day. Once he recognized that I’d listened attentively and problem-solved alongside him, he knew that I care for each patient in our practice. I need them comfortable and fully aware of their options for treatment, AND during treatment. Because I took the time to listen carefully, he opted to have this tooth crowned rather than removed.

Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.

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