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No Pain, No Gain

, , , | Healthy | October 1, 2021

I’m a dentist. Sometimes we can’t fix teeth without extractions. When that happens and there’s no other viable option, we make prosthetics for the patients — basically dentures. It’s never a perfect option, but in the vast majority of cases, the patients are happy with them after a necessary touch-up and around two weeks of wear to get accustomed to their new prosthetics. You absolutely NEED to bear the discomfort for those two weeks if you ever want to get used to them.

I have this conversation on a weekly basis.

A patient calls in two weeks after being given the dentures.

Patient: “Those dentures don’t fit me. I can’t eat/talk/do backflips with them, and they hurt.”

Me: “Pain is normal during the first few weeks; I’ll fix that for you. How long did you wear them for?”

Patient: “I could only handle three hours!”

Me: “Yeah, I might see why they don’t seem to work…”

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A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 13

, , , , , , | Working | August 27, 2021

I get a voicemail from my dentist’s office saying that I have an outstanding bill and to call them right away. This is odd because the last time I saw them, all that was done was a routine cleaning and I paid a copay at the visit. I’m not looking forward to the call since the receptionist is frequently rude.

Receptionist: “[Dentist]’s office, this is [Receptionist].”

Me: “Hi, [Receptionist], this is [My Name]. I’m returning the call I received from you about a bill.”

Receptionist: “It’s about time you called! Do you know how much you owe?!”

Me: “No, I never received a bill in the mail.”

Receptionist: “It’s $700. Get your credit card so we can take care of this.”

Me: “Wait, what?! $700 for a cleaning? Is that with insurance?”

Receptionist: *Smugly* “You didn’t have insurance. So, how are you planning on making the payment? I can take a credit card number right now.”

Me: “Yes, I do have insurance. It needs to be run again.”

Receptionist: “The insurance I have on file didn’t go through. You owe us $700.”

Me: “Is that with the old insurance or the new one I provided you with when I came in?”

Receptionist: “Uh, what?”

Me: “Was it [Old Insurance] or [New Insurance]?”

Receptionist: “It was [Old Insurance].”

Me: “That one isn’t current anymore.”

Receptionist: “Well, you didn’t give a new insurance when you were here, so now you owe us $700.”

Me: “No. I have insurance and I did give you the new insurance. I’d be more than happy to provide you the insurance information and have you run that again before making any payments.”

Receptionist: “I guess that’s the only option you’re giving me?”

Me: “Yes.”

She begrudgingly takes the information, asking for it in a very nasty tone.

Receptionist: “Fine, I did what you want. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Me: “Yes, actually. Cancel my next appointment.”

Her attitude suddenly changes.

Receptionist: “Oh, uh, can I ask why?”

Me: “Because I never want to deal with you again.”

Sure enough, the $700 bill disappeared once sent through the correct insurance company.

Related:
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 12
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 11
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 10
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 9
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 8

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A Long List Of Errors

, , , , | Right | August 13, 2021

I go to the dentist for the first time after the start of the health crisis. The receptionist asks if I had done the health check-in online.

Me: “I haven’t.”

Another patient waiting in the office speaks up.

Other Patient: “I haven’t, either.”

Receptionist: “I’ll email it to you both.”

I find the form in my email and fill it out. The other patient looks at her phone.

Other Patient: “I still don’t see it.”

Receptionist: “I’ll send it to you again.”

Other Patient: “I think I see the problem; I was working on my shopping list.”

She goes back to work on her phone.

Other Patient: “There, I sent it. Did you get it?”

Receptionist: “Are you making holiday cookies? I think you sent me your shopping list.”

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Crown This Lady “Worst Patient Of The Day”

, , , , | Healthy | CREDIT: EWhiskeyM | July 13, 2021

I’m a dental assistant for a private practice. Most of our patients are wonderful people — friendly, happy to see us, respectful of our professional opinions and recommendations, etc. But today, I had the most entitled jerk in for what should have been a simple appointment.

When we do crowns — or caps, as some people know them as — we prep the tooth beforehand and take an impression. Then, that impression goes to a lab and the techs there make the crown. It takes two or three weeks for them to send the crown back.

When we deliver the crown to the patient, the doctor and I try the crown in first to see how it fits. It is VERY rare that it fits perfectly. We almost always have to make some adjustments — shaving down the crown here and there, checking the space between the teeth, checking the bite, etc. All of this is standard. The main thing we use is called “articulating paper”. When the patient bites down on it, we can see heavy blue markings where the bite needs adjusting. The more we adjust, the lighter those marks get, and it even stops marking altogether sometimes.

Most exchanges with the patient are like this.

Us: “How’s it feel?”

Patient: “It’s a little high.”

Us: “Okay, we’ll adjust that.”

We use the articulating paper and then grind the crown down a little.

Us: “How’s it feel now?”

Patient: “Oh, that feels much better.”

Us: “Okay, cool. Let’s cement it in.”

This takes maybe five minutes AT MOST. This lady we had tonight was having none of it.

Us: “How’s it feel?”

Lady: “Ugh, it’s way off.”

Us: “Okay, we’ll adjust it. How’s it feel now?”

Lady: “The same.”

Us: “Umm, really? No change?”

Lady: “The same.”

Us: “Okay, no biggie. Let’s adjust more.”

Over and over, she kept insisting that it was exactly the same, no change, even though the marks were gone at this point, meaning that her other teeth were no longer even touching the crown.

At this point, we had a couple of options that the doctor presented to her.

Doctor: “I can keep adjusting the crown. The only issue is that if I keep reducing the porcelain on top, the metal underneath might end up showing. Are you okay with that?”

Lady: “No.”

Doctor: “Okay. Well then, I need to make a small adjustment to the tooth above this one so that they don’t touch. It’s very superficial.”

Lady: “No! Don’t touch my other teeth!”

Doctor: “We do this all the time, ma’am. It doesn’t harm the teeth. We’re basically just polishing it.”

Lady: “No! That’s a lie! If you guys did it correctly the first time, you wouldn’t have to adjust it at all!”

Doctor: “Ma’am, we do this for everyone. The lab almost never makes them perfect. We either have to adjust the crown itself or the opposing teeth.”

Lady: “No, you screwed up.”

Doctor: “We have to adjust one or the other, so which would you prefer? Do you want metal showing?”

Lady: “No!”

Me: “So we can polish the opposing tooth?”

Lady: “No!”

Me: “It’ll literally take a few seconds.”

Lady: “No, you’re lying! It’s gonna harm my teeth!”

The doctor suggests getting our office manager to talk to the patient. Our office manager is an awesome lady. She’s old — two years away from retirement — and doesn’t give a f*** anymore. I tell her the situation and she laughs.

Office Manager: “Okay, let’s make her wait another month. I don’t give a s***.”

I laugh as she marches right in there.

Office Manager: “Okay, ma’am. Since you don’t want this crown, we’ll send it back to the lab and have them redo it.”

So, instead of just waiting the sixty seconds for us to adjust, she now had to wait three weeks to come in again. And that was just to RE-PREP the tooth. Then, she had to wait another three weeks for the crown to come back from the lab, again.

She had every right to request that the crown be redone. That’s not my issue. My issue is that she accused us of lying, screamed at us, wouldn’t tell us why it felt “exactly the same,” and didn’t want any solutions we offered.

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Anchors Aweigh… And Aweigh, And Aweigh…

, , , , , , , , | Healthy | June 26, 2021

I was a new sailor, getting ready to report to my first ship. My wife and I had driven all the way across the country to the base where my ship was home-ported, so we were totally unfamiliar with the area. We got a hotel room while we looked for apartments, but the next day I got really sick. Two of my teeth on my upper jaw hurt so much I couldn’t sleep, so we grabbed my medical and dental records — this was a long time ago, when sailors hand-carried their records between assignments — and managed to find our way to the local Navy hospital. I checked into the dental office, and they got me in very quickly because I was obviously in a lot of pain.

The dentist, a Navy Lieutenant, poked and prodded a bit, had an x-ray taken, and then told me there was nothing wrong with my teeth. She said I probably had a raging sinus infection and had one of the nurses take me to the emergency room on the ground floor.

An hour or so later, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection, given a paper prescription, and sent to the on-site pharmacy. I grabbed a number and waited, still dazed by the constant pain in my face from the infection. My wife had to tell me when they called my number, and she escorted me to the pharmacy window. The pharmacy tech rattled off a bunch of stuff about the medicines I wasn’t coherent enough to follow, but I did make out that I needed to start taking them right away.

Fine. No problem. We sat back down and I read the labels. The largest bottle said I had to take four pills right away. I staggered to the water fountain in the lobby and swallowed one of everything, plus four of the pills from the big bottle. I walked back to where my wife was sitting, and she started putting the bottles of pills in her purse, giving each bottle a quick look to see if any needed to be refrigerated. Then, she paused and said, “Oh, f***!”

She dragged me up to the prescription drop-off window and hollered for help. An older man came to see what was wrong, and my wife showed him the large bottle and my ID card. The pharmacy tech turned white as a sheet and said, “Oh, f***!”, and then called for a gurney and a doctor.

The next couple of hours were a blur of activity I don’t remember much about, ending with me admitted overnight for observation. It seems the pharmacy tech who’d handed me my pills had also grabbed a bottle intended for another patient — the large bottle. I had taken a quadruple dose of a major blood-pressure medication and my blood pressure was dangerously low by the time the ER managed to get me hooked up to an EKG.

Even in military medicine, almost killing the patients is generally contraindicated. I recovered fine, but there was a major investigation at the hospital, and the pharmacy tech who handed me the wrong pills ended up demoted or transferred someplace unpleasant — perhaps both. The pharmacy at that hospital changed their standard operating procedures to require careful verification of the name on every label and to cross-check every prescription issued with the patient’s medical record.

That’s how the US Navy nearly got me killed before I set foot aboard my first ship.

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