Talk about irony- here I am in the dental chair, 8AM Monday morning after flying to Seattle, connecting through St Louis, the night before. I have my safety goggles on and Dr. Gregg Kinzer is poised above me w/ a needle that looks to be about 8 inches long! (Actually that is not true but I hear that from my patients all the time!) I firmly believe that every dentist should have dental work done once a year so that they can stay connected to what their patients perceive on a daily basis. And of course as he gives me the shot, Dr. Kinzer asks me a question- as if I can answer!!
Actually I have an ace in the hole- I told Gregg that I was writing a blog piece about my dental experience so he has to be on good behavior (and not hurt me). As I wrote about in my last piece, I have flown all the way across the country because I know that Gregg is a uniquely gifted clinician and I want to learn whatever I can so that I can continue to improve my dentistry in all aspects. Conversely, it’s also very affirming when i see that he does exactly what I do in my own office. On this particular morning, Gregg is bonding in 3 porcelain onlays on my back teeth. Regular readers of this blog know that I restore most teeth with porcelain onlays instead of full crowns (full crowns are what most other dentists would do) because the onlays are more conservative and less invasive. The reason other dentists don’t do them is because they are technically difficult to do well- but that is exactly why I travel around the country to see how to constantly up my game.
So here are a few things that struck me about my experience (or: what can I do to optimize the patient experience):
-pleasant staff at every patient interaction makes for a relaxed atmosphere
-I was the only patient that Gregg had for the 2 hours that it took to bond in the onlays. That made the experience more relaxed and allowed him to maintain focus on what was truly important- ME!
-Safety glasses- it’s amazing how many dentists don’t give their patient’s safety glasses while they are being worked on. Most people doing woodworking would never think about using machinery without safety glasses. I was handed them at the beginning of the appointment and I was able to relax and not worry about flying shrapnel or dropped instruments hitting my eye!
-Novacaine (actually in this case Lidocaine) is a good thing. I didn’t feel any discomfort and when I had a slight twinge, Gregg threw in a little more and life was good. And honestly, I didn’t fell the injections at all.
-Excellent dentistry is not cheap!! Even though Gregg and I have known each other for over 6 years, he still charged me for his services; and even though I do this work myself for a living, I had no problem paying for his excellent care. (And, to be honest, like many patients, I had to time the treatment so that it fit into my finances). The point is that you get what you pay for. And if I plan to keep my teeth for a lifetime, this ends up being a very wise investment!
So, the end of the story is that I returned to Baltimore with 3 beautiful porcelain onlays on my back teeth that feel very smooth and polished, my bite is comfortable and I can chew gum again!! And the icing on the cake is that I was able to reaffirm that I actually treat my patients at the same level as the best clinicians in the country . That’s not really news to me; after all, I have striven to provide this level of care for over 25 years. It is actually very good news for my patients- and believe me, I plan to give them that good news at every visit. For in reality, you, as my patient, do not have to fly across the country to get your dentistry done (unless you live on the West Coast). So come on by for an appointment- sit back in the chair, put your safety glasses on and rest peacefully that you are getting some of the very best care anywhere!!!
I agree excellent dentistry is not cheap and even we as dentists need to figure out how our treatment plans fit into our budget and finances. What is great is the fact that you constantly strive for this excellence in all that you do. Your patients are very lucky to have you as their dentist and I am lucky to have met you on our quest for excellence in dental education.