Boy, Was I schooled this week!

school-largeLet’s get the facts straight here.  I have been practicing dentistry for almost 34 years.  Southern California Dental Health Associates opened its state of the art facilities in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles (still Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles adjacent) just over 7 years ago.  We offer a comprehensive range of dental care with an emphasis on helping our patients keep their mouths as healthy as possible.  We do this with a strong knowledge base of the oral systemic link (which basically means your mouth in not independent from your body; an unhealthy mouth can help contribute to a myriad of other health problems) and partnering with our patients to help establish and maintain oral health.

If you have ever heard me speak about dentistry than you know I am not going to sit here and toot my own horn by saying I am the best dentist in the world.  I know my limitations and I do the best I can.  I work with specialists who are the top of their field.  BUT and this is a BUT, I have often said you can’t find a dentist who cares more than me.  That is essentially my greatest character asset and character flaw all rolled into one.  I actually care.

But I found out this week that actually caring and thinking I am speaking English to my patients doesn’t go hand in hand.  I found out on three different occasions that I took different aspects of dentistry for granted when talking to patients.  It was a very humbling week for me.  And what is even more of a coincidence (and I don’t believe in coincidences so I was supposed to be listening to this cd) I heard another dentist talk about talking to patients about their cases 4-5 times and the patients still didn’t get it.

First, as much as try not to, I use dental terms instead of English.  Decay verses a cavity.  Sometimes I use a phrase like a little cavity.  Does a little cavity need to be treated or not.  I know it does, but does the patient understand that?  I can go on and on about these errors, I just know after 34 years I still am making some of these mistakes.

Second, and this is a tough one for me, is that I believe my passion about keeping someone healthy is enough for them to understand what I am telling them, once, without reviewing pictures or showing them in their mouth what I am actually seeing.  My passion is actually that….MINE.  it doesn’t translate to the patient who is actually usually terrified about being in my chair.  The fact that I am sincere and caring doesn’t mean they are any more relaxed or less scared.

So, I often tell my team that hardest thing to do in a conversation is to listen.  I also share with them that change is difficult, it isn’t something most people (including yours truly) is comfortable doing.  But, in my pursuit of providing the most comprehensive preventive dental care possible, I got to change my game.  Today I am up to that challenge.  It’s no fun being schooled, but someone once said the only mistake is the one you don’t learn from.  School is in session.

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