Dentist Blues...


It may come as a surprise to some that dentistry polls number one for work-related suicide. Some would see it as a cushy, well-paid, job, with minimal stress. Some would see it as lightweight. Some would see it as over-priced. Some would not have a clue...

We are not the most popular of people to visit, and we tend to see patients at their worst- in pain, reluctant to attend, sleep-deprived, and probably with six other bills needing prompt attention. We do intricate work in a small, vulnerable environment, and there is absolutely no hiding place – any mistake will undoubtedly come back to bite you on the bottom. Time can be a real issue, trying to squeeze in those unexpected emergencies, those last minute treatments before overseas trips. We feel a real obligation and loyalty to our clientele, a responsibility to see them right. So why is it that the person you do manage to squeeze in is the same one who complains on their next visit that you have kept them waiting for ten minutes?

Why is it that the guy you saw once three years ago with the decaying wisdom tooth, who never came back, is now getting cranky with reception because he is in pain with an infection and needs an emergency appointment? Why does he tell you he could not afford the $170 quoted, but then go on to inform how he just took his new girlfriend and her daughter to the Taylor Swift show in Auckland? How could anyone prioritise the awful Taylor Swift over their health?

And why is it that when you see the obese four year old with six cavities (from fluoridated Lower Hutt) and try to gently provide dietary advice to the mother- avoid sugary snacking, drink only water and milk, avoid all sugar like the plague especially before bed, that she instantly glazes over? Why does she insist that her little angel NEVER eats sugar? Why does she wash her hands of all responsibility?

And why does the overweight middle-aged man refuse to listen when you try to inform him that there are definite links between his poor gum health and heart disease/stroke? With a little effort, he can improve his condition and get better, fitter, and live longer. So why is he still fantasising about the next steak and cheese pie washed down with a jumbo Coke? Why won’t he even try to sort it out?

Why do people tell you how much they hate coming to see you/hate dentists?
Why do they expect their treatment to be free when you have never treated the problem before?
What is it with some people? I am patient and polite. I see my job as a caring professional and always try to be kind. I give it everything. When did people stop taking responsibility for their own actions? When did they become stroppy and rude? Why can they not understand the concept of loyalty?

So, please be nice to your dentist- a dentist is a human being, with feelings. A dentist tries hard to look after you. A dentist might also have real life problems, even if his/her professionalism does not allow this to show. We are in it together, an oral health team, and remembering this can only prove beneficial for everyone.