As a dentist, I have long known that its not braces, or implants, or smile designs that people come to me for, its the confidence. The confidence to smile, the confidence to go out to dinner, and not have to choose foods that they cannot eat, or worry about loose dentures falling out when they are talking to friends.
I love it when I meet someone who have had all their confidence in dentists knocked out of them by bad dental care in the past, as it gives me an opportunity to help them, and advise dental care that really changes lives. I am not the kind of dentist who wants to treat as many people as possible, for me, just changing a handful of lives, but doing what I do, gives me the biggest kicks.
This is a story of the last patient who I saw in 2013, and I hope to help more in 2014!
Alicia’s Dental History
Alicia (not her real name), called The Perfect Smile Studio (Hertford), to arrange an appointment, as she had very bad tooth ache.
Originally from South Africa, she had seen a dentist out there, however, they never treated her comprehensively, they would just do a little clean, occasionally a filling – but never a complete health assessment, and plan for the long term.
In the UK, she had seen several dentists, and one on Harley Street really stuck in her mind, she went to see him, and he told her off, saying things like:
‘Do your parents have all their teeth?: you will probably loose all your teeth, if you don’t do x, y and z.’
This telling off is no way to talk to someone who is already scared of setting foot in a dental clinic! (I still don’t get why so many dentists don’t get it!)
She saw a few more, and the story was the same, no one made her feel comfortable.
A different approach
Like a lot of the dentists that I really admire, I have always tried to treat people for their long term health, and talk about all treatment options, and discuss treatments that we may look at doing, even years down the line, as I believe that if you have a goal in mind, then you are always going to get there. I used to practice, where I would look at individual teeth, and treat them, but I found this is very shortsighted, and not in anyones best interest.
Alicia’s main fears were pain, and cost of treatment. She later told me what was really holding her back: fear of what I would find, and the embarrassment of me seeing how she had let her mouth get.
I completely understand this fear, and I cannot explain enough, that I have seen everything under the sun! I used to work in a prison, and when you see how people on illicit drug take care of their teeth, then nothing surprises you.
Anyway, back to Alicia. After we spoke about what we could do, and what is possible, she told me that she felt a massive weight off her shoulders had been lifted. Just the action of coming in to see us, and having us lay out all the facts on the table, propose solutions, and coming up with a plan had been of immense help, and no one had every done this for her!
As for the cost of treatment, it was a lot less than she had thought it would have been in her head! Overall, you could buy a nice holiday for the cost of the treatment, but I challenge anyone to find anything else that they will use every single day, for the next 20 years, that costs as little as good quality dental work. This is something that you use with every smile, every bite of food, with every social interaction. Even if your dental treatment cost £20,000 – what else can you buy that will have this massive an effect on your life!? (Alicia’s treatment is a LOT less than this figure, I just used that as an extreme example)
What made Alicia’s story so special was that after the 2 hours we spent together, she told me exactly what had been holding her back, and she thanked us for how we made her feel. This means a lot to me, as this is why I do what I do.
For me, its all about inspiring my clients to take the first few steps to really improving their lives. By being able to offer so many amazing treatments, like teeth straightening, veneers, implants etc, I hope that I am able to make them feel like they are choosing the best care, and delivered in a friendly and non threatening manner.
2014 is going to be a great year for Alicia, after giving so much in her job as a professional nurse, and giving to her family, she is finally going to treat herself. Spend a little care and attention on her smile, and never have to worry about the bits she doesn’t like. And now we have a great relationship, she will never fear having to go to the dentist again.
If you found this useful, please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from anyone who reads my blog!