Promises to My Patients – My New Oath

What I’m learning after almost 2 decades in dentistry is that patients don’t care about cavities or whether or not they have gum disease. I’ve talked, actually nagged, patients for years to do better brushing and flossing or they would have to listen to the same recording again in 6 months. No wonder why people hated to come to their dental checkups.  I’m here to say that I am done. I am done fighting with patients who don’t want to listen to me anymore. I am giving up because I care.


I’m changing the relationship by making promises to my patients, the current and the future ones. (1) I promise to tell you what’s important to you not to me (2) I will only teach you to avoid dental diseases like cavities and gum disease if you want to learn how (Psst, here’s a secret, all dental disease is preventable and learning how to prevent it can save you thousands of dollars!) and (3) I will always tell you if your breath smells worse than a sewer…because I care.


The reason I am making these promises is because I’m tired of butting heads with my patients and them not getting healthier. Our goals have always been different. My goal is to tell you if you could have a life threatening illness and a decreased quality of life due to a bacterial infection of the gums called periodontal disease and get you to treat it. Most patients don’t care if their gums bleed because of this infection, even if you should be running to the nearest dental office if you do. What is your goal? Your goal is to get out of the office without me saying the dreaded “F” word. If you have to hear the word flossone more time you’re going to lunge at me and strangle me with the bib clips watching my face turn blue. I see it in your eyes.


For years I’ve given you information you don’t want to hear.  I know bleeding gums means an infection has already invited its way in and is causing inflammation in your arteries making you sicker every day. I know that it contributes to high blood pressure, heart attacks strokes, the inability to maintain good blood sugar levels and that it even could cause premature babies. Unfortunately, you only hear this message at your dental checkups. Medical doctors have too much on their plates to discuss oral health with you and just pump you with medications to control these symptoms to get to their next patient.  Since we are the only ones talking about how bleeding in your mouth is bad I’m going to stop sounding like a crazy person trying to get you to understand.


Since bleeding gums aren’t important to a majority of people, although it should be, I will focus on the affect of the bleeding gums on your everyday life. Your friends or family members won’t tell you that your breath smells like a landfill in the middle of a summer full of 100 degree days. So it’s my job to tell you that the bacterial infection causing your gums to bleed is making your gums rot causing your breath to smell like a decomposing corpse. For years I tiptoed around this fact and instead told you a complicated message you didn’t care about. For that, I am sorry.


Finding out what is important to you is my new goal. Do you want whiter and straighter teeth? Do you want to stop paying money to have cavities fixed? Do you not want to have to wear dentures like your parents did? Your goal is now mine.  I will tell you what I see, feel and smell because you deserve that. I am here to get you healthier but only when you want to. Until then, I’ll be waiting.


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