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Stress of Patients with Teeth Ground Down

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Hannah Needed Help But Didn’t Know It

At 27, Hannah weighed about 280 pounds and was almost 6 feet tall.  She worked long hours at a desk job and ate out all meals, except breakfast.  She ate sugar-coated cereal. During her initial appointment with our practice, we documented decay, inflamed gum tissue, and the onset of bone loss in her upper molars. I felt in my heart that she was working herself sick, on several levels, and unaware of her need to set limits in daily life.

Our front desk staff tried to set up treatment appointments for Hannah, but they were scheduled almost three months later. She over-committed during off hours and was unable to take time off work.

Patients often self-created stress. In dentistry, I see the ramifications of excessive stress on patients who consistently clench or grind their teeth together.  I also see it when dental disease takes hold, manifesting as decay from “drive-by meals” or sugary snacks without proper cleaning afterward, accompanied by the excuse that they have no time to floss.

That’s when I made a bet with Hannah.  The bet was that I would provide complementary treatment if she could accomplish three specific changes in her daily routine. These were activities that I choose to keep to myself even to this day. She won the bet and has found her life balance, too.

I have many patients who could learn from Hannah. Are you one of them?