Leave A Black Mark On That Patient’s File

, , , , | | Healthy | June 13, 2019

(I work as a dental assistant. After doing some fillings for a patient, I walk her out to the front desk and she stops in the bathroom first. I notice our receptionist is busy with a call, and the dentist doesn’t have another patient for about 15 minutes, so I decide I’ll help out at the front desk and see the last patient out. She comes out of the bathroom and we have this conversation at the desk.)

Patient: “The dentist put a black filling in my mouth!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but there isn’t any such thing as a black filling. I can assure you [Doctor] only placed white composite fillings that match your tooth shade.”

Patient: “It’s right here! It’s black!” *points to a tooth on the opposite side from what we worked on*

Me: “Ma’am, [Doctor] placed fillings on the other side of your mouth. He didn’t touch the tooth you’re pointing to. What your pointing to is a silver amalgam filling that has aged and is no longer shiny, causing it to appear almost black.”

Patient: “No. This was not here before!”

Me: “Ma’am, where is your mouth frozen?”

Patient: *points to the side opposite of tooth she is complaining about*

Me: “That’s the side [Doctor] worked on, not the tooth you notice the dark spot on.”

Patient: “No, he did both. Go check with him or the nurse that was working with him.”

Me: “I am the assistant that was working with him. I’m just helping our receptionist, as she was busy with a call when you first came to the desk, and I can assure you that we did not work on that tooth or that side of your mouth. That is an old silver filling. If it bothers you, we can have the dentist look at it and see if he can replace it, but we’ll need to book you another appointment for that.”

Patient: “No, it’s fine.” *pays and leaves*

Receptionist: “I’m so glad that happened to you and not me.”

The Ugly Mouth Is The One With The Ugly Words

, , | | Healthy | May 18, 2019

(As a teenager I had braces that were – in some way – done incorrectly and over the course of the treatment the enamel of my teeth started to deteriorate. Since I was a quiet and shy teenager, I didn’t speak out and got in a somewhat vicious cycle of dental hygiene since properly cleaning my teeth started to hurt. After a while, I even stopped going to the dentist because I was so ashamed. However, in my twenties, I start seeing an amazing dentist who is very empathetic and doesn’t judge. Session by session, we start ironing things out, but for a very special procedure, he transfers me to a dental surgeon. This takes place at my first appointment before she even takes a look at my teeth.)

Dentist: “Hello, [My Name]. Nice to meet you! May I ask: how old are you?”

Me: “Hi… Um… I’m 24. Why?”

Dentist: “Yeah, I thought so. But from your x-rays, I’d guessed you would be 60.”

Me: *embarrassed* “Yeah, I know. But I try to contain the damage now.”

Dentist: “You’ve got to start cleaning your teeth better!”

Me: “I’m cleaning them at least twice a day now. If you take a look you’ll see. I really started taking dental hygiene very seriously and trying to save what can be saved. But the damage has been done. Still, I really clean my teeth.”

Dentist: “Don’t give me that spiel. I’ve seen how many fillings you have. You do a terrible job of keeping your teeth healthy.”

Me: *miserable* “Yes. I’m very sorry. I know.”

Dentist: “You know how ugly such teeth are, right? You’re 24. Probably looking for a nice girl to marry someday. But I’m gonna tell you right now: with those teeth, you’ll never find a girl!

Me: *on the verge of tears* “I’m really trying to take better care. [Dentist] always told me I’m really doing a good job now. I haven’t had a new cavity in two years.”

Dentist: “Well, I don’t care. Your mouth is ugly. And you’re probably gonna die alone with such bad mouth hygiene. Now, go make an appointment with my receptionist for next month so we can start making you look human again.”

(I didn’t want to object to her, but I didn’t make an appointment and even almost quit the ongoing procedures with my regular dentist. He had to talk to me for an hour until I was ready to keep going. He also said he wouldn’t transfer patients to this dental surgeon anymore.)

Talking Complete Bull-imia

, , , | Healthy | May 3, 2019

(I have recently changed my dentist. I’m 30 and I have never had any cavities before, but I go to a consult since I notice something weird in two of my teeth. I suspect they are cavities but they don’t hurt or bother me at all, and I don’t know what cavities look like.)

Dentist: “You have four cavities! What a disaster!”

Me: “Well, it’s the first four in 30 years.”

Dentist: “This looks so bad! We need x-rays!”

Me: “I’d have come earlier but they didn’t hurt and they look very small, so it took me a while to notice them.”

Dentist: “Four cavities! This is insane! Are you bulimic?”

Me: “No.”

Dentist: “You sure? It clearly looks like bulimia.”

Me: “I’m not bulimic. I’m not alcohol abusive, either; I barely ever throw up.”

(The doctor doesn’t believe me, and sends me to do the x-rays. I come back to have the cavities fixed.)

Dentist: “Are you sure you don’t throw up? This amount of cavities is not normal!”

(By then, I feel filthy. I don’t throw up and I brush my teeth, but the big deal she is making makes it look like I am her worst case in years. She fixes my cavities, which are all very superficial, and I go home pretty worried and thinking about buying a different mouthwash, toothbrush, and toothpaste. My boyfriend is having some friends over and I tell them what happened.)

Friend: “Four in your life? I get four cavities removed every time I go to the dentist!”

Boyfriend: “You can’t see them because they are in the back of my mouth, but I’ve had several big fixes.”

(The following day, two of my four fixes fall out while I’m brushing my teeth. I go to have them re-fixed. The dentist keeps telling me to suck it up, still implying I have an eating disorder. The remaining two fall out within a month, but this time I go to a different professional. I’m already expecting to get yelled at for my poor dental condition.)

Dentist #2: “Hi, darling! You look good! Let’s fix these, shall we?”

(She is now my usual dentist.)

Being Nice Doesn’t Have To Be Like Pulling Teeth

, , , | Hopeless | April 11, 2019

(I study dentistry in France. Like every fourth- to sixth-year student, I work at the dental clinic. It’s divided into wards like surgery, care, emergencies, etc. This way, although unpractical for patients who have to take like three appointments for something a normal dentist could do in one, we can make sure the same person takes care of their patients if they’re nice and/or interesting to work on. One day at the care ward, I get a patient for something that should be taken care of by the emergency ward. After a brief talk with my professor, he agrees I can just take the patient in so he doesn’t have to wait any more than he already has. The procedure is routine and I take care of it in ten minutes; however, it requires the use of something that has a bad taste. As usual, I profusely apologize about it.)

Patient: “Don’t worry; you’re great!”

Me: “Haha, thanks!”

(I get everything wrapped up and inform him that we have to remove another tooth, and that we may have to remove the one I worked on. He has health issues, and I want a second opinion before subjecting him to a lengthy procedure for a tooth he might ultimately have to have removed. I, therefore, offer to show him where the surgery ward is. On the way there:)

Patient: “What’s your name?”

Me: *pointing to my badge* “My name is [My Full Name]. I can write it down if you want.”

Patient: “Oh, yeah! Perfect, thank you! You’re really the best, and I want you to be my dentist forever!”

(I laugh and write my name down, thanking him for the compliment. As mentioned before, I barely even worked on his tooth, so I don’t know how he got the idea I was so great. I tell him when I’ll next be in the surgery ward and he tells me he’ll be there. Fast forward a few days and, sure enough, he’s here. We get him in the chair and start working on the tooth we have to remove. It’s a difficult tooth and we fiddle around with it for maybe 45 minutes before managing to extract it. For comparison, a regular extraction takes five to ten minutes, tops. I also require the help of an experienced professor to remove it. I tell the patient something to the effect of, “It was hard, wasn’t it?”)

Patient: “Oh, not at all! I knew that you really were the best! As soon as you started working on it, bam! It popped right out!”

(I laughed and thanked him again for the compliment. Amongst all the crazy and entitled patients I get, it really cheers me up when I see someone this nice. It reminds me I’m doing this to help people smile!)

Brace Yourself; Parents Are Coming

, , , , , | Healthy | February 28, 2019

(I’m a dental assistant at an orthodontics office where we have several locations, but we switch between locations daily. It’s planned out months in advance for scheduling purposes which doctors and team will be at which location. I’m covering phones for some girls that work front desk because the assistants don’t have any patients when this goes down over the phone. A patient’s Momzilla calls.)

Mom: “My son has a broken bracket again. I need an appointment for today to fix it.”

Me: “All right, well, we’re pretty slow for the next few hours at [location], but if you can come in before the afternoon we can see him.”

(I get the patient info to look at the chart and schedule her son.)

Mom: “You make sure the doctor knows this is an emergency. I have had to come in twelve times already to fix multiple brackets, and he only got his braces on five months ago. This is ridiculous; you all are supposed to know what you’re actually doing there. I’ll be at [location that’s closed] in an hour.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry about that, but [location I’m at] is the one that’s open today.”

Mom:What? That doesn’t work for me. Didn’t you hear me say this is an emergency? Tell the doctor to come to this office for my son.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we will be getting busy soon, and our doctor can’t just leave for another location. If you can make it to this one today, I’ll schedule that walk-in, but it’s Friday, and the next day we have appointments at that location isn’t until Wednesday.”


Me: “Okay, well, maybe you should stop letting him have what looks like taffy and caramel popcorn, which we told you he is not allowed to have because it can break his brackets or wire. I assisted the doctor the last three times your son was in, and he also can’t brush out all the bits of those foods from his back teeth, so at this point, there’s nothing we can do if you can’t listen to simple directions.”

(The mom hung up on me, and later called and told the front desk girls that it was no big deal, and they’d just come in on Wednesday.)

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