Do you Try to Be a Good Dental Patient?

I do safety for a living these days. I see a lot of studies on workplace health, and one of the areas I have been paying a lot of attention to lately, is moral and its effects on workplace injuries. Somewhere along the way I read or heard about a statistic that stated that dentists had a higher rate of suicide than other professions. The 12th place of professions.

I started to think about that and how I interacted with my dental professionals and what that must be like for them.


First off- I have had horrid teeth since I gave birth to my daughter. I usually get regular cleanings, floss (aggressively) regularly and brush often. None of this prepared me for the dental drama that followed her birth. I mean- I had some fillings, but pretty much every tooth that even had a filling ended up as a crown. That has been over a period of 4 years. For 2 years, I was not able to afford to fix issues, as I had no job and no insurance. Many of these tooth issues were preceded by great pain.   When I ended up at the dentist for repairs, I was always so grateful to be able to afford to fix my teeth. I was grateful to have my pain relieved pretty much same day, and I GUSHED over my dental team.

I have traditionally been terrified of needles my whole life and that fear was magnified at the dentist. There were many years that I was a bad patient. Then one day, I discovered that the needle fear was completely lessened with nitrous, and I was now able to go to the dentist and be a happy patient. I got my gums deep cleaned after 2 years, change toothpastes and got a good brush.

My cleanings were now a fun time, and something that felt good instead of full of blood and pain. I was ENJOYING my dentist trips.


I have a great dentist office that gets me in, gets me fixed fast. They have a 2 hour crown machine, and that baby is a miracle. I pay tons for this, but eating is important to me!


So, in a nutshell, the team enjoys my visits, because I enjoy my visits. My hygienist always says she looks forward to my cleanings because I am so positive.


If you think about most people’s experiences though- they are not as positive. They go in in pain. They experience a lot of fear. They are in a reclining chair in a vulnerable position and sharp pointy things are in their face. They are inconvenienced, and the visits are pricey. Dropping $800 on a crown is no picnic. That can be a lot of negativity absorbed by the dentist in a day.


To go through that for 40-50 hours a week is trying. Add the patients that bite, fight and complain. Add the weird angles they need to get into to access my stupid back teeth in my tiny mouth (lol.) Add insurance company nightmares… being a dentist seems like a pretty thankless job.  I couldn’t do it, aside from my inability to deal with all the blood and gore in the mouth.. lol.


So, do I think dentists have it bad?

You bet. I was thinking about trying to be a better patient yesterday as I got my latest crown. I tried to be cheery. I tried not to bite anyone, and keep my mouth open and to follow instructions. I tried to make helping me easier for the dentist. I still cling to the armrests for dear life in anticipation of pain that never really occurred, but I am working on that.


I appreciate my dentist, and the effect they have on my well being. I will keep trying to be a good patient and not be the nightmare patient that gives them something to complain about at dinner that night. 


Did it help? I don’t know, but the intent was there and certainly that counts for something, right? Maybe we should all try to be a good dental patient.