The lift is broken and my dental surgery is on the 6th floor. The last patient is slightly obese 50+ year old lady who has a heart medication. It is the last appointment of the day and most of the practice staff has left the building.
She walks into the reception. She huffs and puffs when I call her in. The first wave of complains hits me. Apparently it is my fault the lift is broken. I manage to calm the situation and she sits down in the patient chair.
I am super-cautious with everything what I say but she – still out of breath – takes another round at me. Now she’s shouting. I try to follow the protocol of how to deal with an aggressive patient. No help. I ask if she’d rather cancel the appointment. She wouldn’t. Instead she demands me to start the treatment and not to speak to her.
But I must speak. This job cannot be done without informing of certain things.
I suggest again that we could reschedule the appointment. It’s the end of the world for the patient and she nearly screams at me. I sit silently, my whole body trembling (which I pray God she wouldn’t notice). The patient demands me to carry on with the treatment and I do so in a fear of… not sure what but I rather carry on than stop the treatment to find out.
I must use calming deep breaths every time the patient does not notice as otherwise it would be difficult to hold an instrument in my hand. But still I must support my mirror hand with the other hand to stop the handle clattering against the patient’s teeth.
Once we are finished with the treatment the patient has calmed down. She even apologies her behaviour. I smile and I’m friendly towards her but inside me I am totally worn out and in a need of comforting.
Aggressive Patients And the Protocol
When a patient is hostile towards you and criticises everything you do there is no way to stop your heart pounding. You may try to hide it and act as we are thought – be calm, remember to listen, listen, listen, address the patient’s feelings with sympathy
I’m sorry you feel this way…
I understand that you are upset…
and let the patient finish until you ask
Do you want to continue with the treatment or should we reschedule?
At the same time your heart is racing like mad and you think the patient can hear from your voice that you are far from being calm. If she doesn’t notice it from you voice she will notice your hands that shake frantically.
Sound familiar? Been there done that!
We Are Not Perfect And Definitely Not Superhumans
No matter how good people skills you have there will be a day when a patient does not like your chair-side manner. The patient might be verbally aggressive towards you or passive-aggressive when you sense that all is not well (arms crossed and hardly answering your questions). Or the patient might act normally during the visit and later on you find out that complaint was made against you.
Whaaat? Me? But I’m always liked by my patients!
I have learned long ago a very important thing that keeps me sane in my professions when it comes to the patients:
You cannot please everyone!
Embrace this sentence and remember it when you hit a difficult time with your patient. If you feel that you have done your best you can calm yourself down by repeating this simple sentence in your mind. And offer it to the newbie who has met her first aggressive patient.
The same was done to me by a kind and wise dentist after one aggressive patient.
Y o u c a n n o t p l e a s e e v e r y o n e!
I have noticed that there is a pattern of the aggressive behaviour amongst the patients. The fear of dentist is one thing for sure. But the ones that have given the hardest time on my professional life have been female patients between the age 50 to 60. I cannot help but thinking that this unstable behaviour (from 0 mph to 70 mph and back again) could be due to an undiscovered menopause.
Now could it?
But for your safety do not under any circumstance suggest this to the patient. It might be the last thing you do.
If you are a patient and you ask this question from two dentists there is a BIG chance that you will get two answers. The other shows you the green light and the other the red.
There is no consensus amongst the dental professionals about the recommendations. Even the professors in dentistry argue about the recommendations publicly. They give statements to the press for and against the mouthwashes after a new study about the risks of the mouthwashes is released. Some negate all the study’s conclusions.
So no wonder it leaves patients confused if us professionals are too.
Well Should You?
If you have a good oral hygiene – brushing twice a day and cleaning between the teeth most nights – and you use a fluoride toothpaste there’s no reason to use a mouthwash.
But there are exceptions – naturally!
If you suffer
from a gum disease you might be advised to use a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine (CHX) during and after a periodontal treatment. It is a very effective ingredient that kills bacteria. But remember to use it only as advised by a dental professional
from an extreme dryness of the mouth through an illness (e.g. Sjögren’s syndrome) you might be advised to use fluoride mouthwash regularly to prevent decay
Remember that in both of these cases you should choose the alcohol-free version.
Dangers of Using a Mouthwash
If you use a mouthwash that has alcohol (ethanol, but I’m going to use the word alcohol instead) levels of 25% or higher and you have been using it since your teenage years the studies state that you have higher chances for getting an oral cancer.
One leading brand (the one that rhymes with word blistering) can have alcohol levels as high as 26% and this high level is thought to be toxic for gingival tissues when used in abusive amounts. But – and it is a big but – why do they add alcohol to the mouthwashes when it is a known fact that for alcohol to be toxic for bacteria it must be used at 40%? This means that there is no help from alcohol levels as low as 26% but it can still be harmful to the gingival tissues.
If you use a mouthwash containing CHX for a longer period of time it will stain your teeth. Stains can be removed but it will cost you of course.
In my professional life I have noticed that for some unknown reason the leading blistering-rhyming mouthwash stains the teeth with some patients eventhough it doesn’t contain the CHX. Actually the looks of the stains is different to those that build up from the CHX. After a thorough interview of the patient no other explanation was found to the stains than the mouthwash the patient had been using. The staining stopped once the patients stopped using the mouthwash.
Dry mouth and bad breath (halitosis)
Alcohol in mouthwashes can dry the mouth and the dry mouth is prone to halitosis. People often seek help from the mouthwash for the halitosis but it can actually make the matters worse.
If you have been diagnosed with lichen planus you should not use any mouthwashes unless advised by a professional. But even in this case you should not use mouthwashes with alcohol.
WELL SHOULD I?
Wouldn’t it be the wisest thing to do if you DIDN’T use a mouthwash whilst us professionals argue about the health risks of the mouthwashes? It’s your health that is gravely at risk if the alcohol in mouthwashes is proven to be harmful.
I have seen patients who are going through the cancer treatments for oral cancer and I have seen the 50% of them who survived the cancer. I can tell you that it’s not a pretty sight. Not during the treatments or after surviving it.
Why would you play a Russian roulette over your health? I wouldn’t and therefore I am not using any mouthwashes.
If You Still Want to Use a Mouthwash
Always choose the alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash.
it can stain your teeth
it never replaces brushing or cleaning between the teeth
that in many countries the mouthwashes are considered as cosmetics by law. In some countries they are considered both cosmetics and drugs. But when considered as cosmetics they are not that highly regulated as drugs are. So what you could actually be rinsing in your mouth is a cocktail of chemicals that no-one knows (or cares) how they affect the health
that if you are also a heavy smoker it increases the risk of getting an oral cancer. If on top of that you are a high consumer of alcoholic drinks you are even at higher risk
I really don’t get it how we cannot decide if the mouthwashes containing alcohol should be recommended or not. It’s just ridiculous that even inside one dental practice opposite recommendations are given to the patients.
What all of us professionals agree is the fact that alcohol is an aldehyde and it is metabolised by the oral bacteria to acetaldehyde which is carcinogenic in humans. Carcinogens cause cancer! And yet we argue about the risks of using an alcohol containing mouthwash.
What are the reasons behind all this? Some have suggested that some of the dental professionals have financial commitments to the manufacturers of the mouthwashes. I must emphasise that this is a hearsay. But if you have read my previous post about the integrity amongst dental professional you understand that everything is possible.
If you are interested to read about groundbreaking study about the risks of using the alcohol containing mouthwashes (one that caused a mayhem amongst dental professionals) visit here.
It’s time to get serious again. In this post I will get to the bottom problem of the dental industry. The lack of morals and the urge to maximise profit at the cost of the individuals is like a plaque that sticks around before the cure is found. For about half of the dentists I have met fall into that category and that’s a lot considering that we – the health care workers – should be the ones having the highest integrity of all.
What I will do next is give examples of the lack of morals amongst dental professionals. It will be just a (thin) slice of a (big) cake but you will get the idea no doubt. For clarification, all the examples are from real life and witnessed by yours truly.
For those who are not familiar with the NHS, it is the UK’s National Health Service. The NHS dentists work under a contract and receive payments for the treatments done.
Before the year 2006 (when the contract was replaced with a new one) the misuse of the system was widespread. The dentists were laughing at the system that was like a gold mine to them. They could easily make an outstanding pay by doing certain treatments that would not raise questions. It did anything but raise questions. The treatments made them look like they were concentrating on preventive care and looking out the patient’s best interest.
The truth is that they did not care about patients. Patient was merely a tool for money making. An example: The dentists made fissure sealants for every patient who did not have them and they made them from first premolar to the last molar. There was no evaluation if the fissure sealant was needed and it was an easy treatment to justify to the patient as it was preventive treatment.
“It prevents you getting a decay…”
Who would say no to that?
Fissure sealant was very quick treatment to do as it could be done in batches (all the premolars and molars from the left side in one go and next the right side) guaranteeing a very productive day moneywise for the dentist. There are probably millions of people in the UK whose teeth are coated with fissure sealants.
Eventough the NHS contract was renewed in 2006, the dentists found new ways of misusing the system.
Root Canal Treatment on Wisdom Tooth… What The?
The most immoral dentists have found a way to make the most out of every tooth – moneywise. Normally the decision to remove a fully erupted wisdom tooth is made lightly if there are any problems like decaying, periodontal problem, malocclusion with the tooth. But more than once I have seen wisdom teeth that have been heavily filled, root canal treated and even have had crowns on them (on top of the root canal treatment).
There is no other explanation to this than a dentist who is practicing dentistry only to gain wealth.
Performing Treatments Without Having the Skills
Some dentists suggest treatments they have no skills to perform and charge the patient as if they were specialists. An example: A dentist recommends periodontal treatment to the patient. The course of treatment consists four 30 minute visits to remove calculus one quadrant per visit and the cost is the same as if a periodontist would perform the treatment. Once the course of treatment is done by this wannabe specialist, the patient goes to see a hygienist for oral hygiene instructions. The hygienist soon realises that there is still lots of subgingival calculus left and therefore the gum disease is still active.
The hygienist does her best to remove the calculus (which she has skills for) and the patient is left under an illusion that nothing is wrong.
It is called collegiality what just happened. Dental professionals covering for each other’s mistakes and malpractice.
Root Canal File in the Root Canal
In our business the equipment can malfunction and instruments can break in use. In these cases it is good practice to tell the patient what happened. For example a curette’s tip can break inside the pocket of the tooth. It can be found from there but the patient needs to know what happened. Some dentist cover these kinds of incidents or mistakes they have made by simply not informing the patient. Now THAT if anything is malpractice.
An example. A root canal file broke inside the patient’s tooth whilst the dentist was performing a root canal treatment. The nurse did not notice the incident until a control x-ray was taken and the file was clearly visible. The dentist did not inform the patient about the broken file or attempt to remove the file.
The dental industry draws in immoral individuals because it has been allowed to happen. It wasn’t until the 21st century when the dental schools started to interview the applicants for the undergraduate programmes of dentistry. Before this the suitability of the applicant’s personality was not measured by any tests. This means there are dentists in the field that should not be dentists.
In my opinion all the dentists who have not gone through the MMI should be asked to have one. If they fail, they should be struck off their profession.
But no test is a fool proof way of finding the bad seeds. The most rotten souls can often talk their way through any obstacles. And the reason why these individuals are drawn to the dentist’s profession is the well known fact that they make rather nice pay (here’s one article about it).
I’ve worked in the heart of two capitals on my professional life. Every now and then there were well-known people who came to have dental treatment done at our practice. Millionaires, pop-stars, politicians. Some of them I saw regularly and got a pretty good idea of the person behind the public figure.
There has been lots of discussion about the presidential elections in the US. Which candidate is the best one to be the number one leader in the world (was tempted to use the Master of the Universe comparison again, but managed to hold my tongue)? Who definitely should not be elected, let alone to be a candidate? Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, Trump… One of them will be elected.
But how do the US citizens know if the candidate is able to look after the country and it’s people? Do they keep the promises they make? The time after the elections often reveal that the promises were just promises and they were made only to win votes. Highly annoying in my opinion.
But guess what? I have an answer for that problem.
Let’s make the dental records of the candidates available for everyone to see. I mean every detail from the charts to the dentist’s/hygienist’s reports of the visits.
What we record on every visit is the state of the mouth. The amount of plaque, calculus and bleeding. We record the interview of the oral hygiene habits and the recommendations given. Often we write to the patient record the state of the oral hygiene.
OH needs improving
In my opinion it tells a lot about any person if a visit after visit the patient’s records state that patient’s oral hygiene is poor and that the patient has been given recommendations and information but there has not been improvement in oral hygiene.
If the person is not able to look after her/himself (for any reason), how is she/he able to look after the whole nation? This comes to my mind every time I see a familiar face of a politician in the papers. A politician who I have unsuccessfully tried to put in the right path in dental health for many years.
P.s. That was the closest this blog will get to the politics.
You know the feeling when you have just finished writing an important project like a novel, report or a BLOG POST and the device throws in a blue screen of death. Well my equivalent to blue screen today was to drop my mobile phone into the toilet. In it went and so did my nearly ready next blog post stored in the phone’s memory.
At the moment – 3 hours from the moment of doom – the mobile phone is dead and I have arrived to a holiday in a remote area where the replacement is difficult to get (thank god for spouse’s pc that makes this post update possible). So I am sipping away well deserved wine despite the fact that the bacteria in my mouth will metabolise it to nasty carcinogen and cause me an early death.
Anyway about toilet seats. I live in a country where the toilet is flushed with a drinking water and if you have read my previous post you know that the quality of the water needs to be of certain level. So dropping your dentures or mobile phone into the toilet is not THAT disastrous thing really (if only the mobile phone would survive the wet conditions). Plus I have another memory of my teacher in dental school – the same scary periodontist as on one of my previous post. She was teaching us about different bacteria in mouth and said with great wonder that
“they have found even bacteria that is normally found from people’s rectum”
To us young students it was no reason for wonder (like it was to this near-retirement-age teacher) that bacteria from rectum was found from people’s mouth. People mingle with all sorts of things nowadays.
So there is more reason not to worry if you dentures accidentally fall into the toilet.
Now I must apologise my rampant writing, just poured down my third glass of wine. Also, I hope you understand that my blog post might be quiet for a week or so.
Many people have gum disease without knowing it and it often comes as surprise when they are told about it at the dentist. Even bigger surprise would be if they knew how many dentists do not recognise the gum disease or know what a comprehensive treatment is for it.
I have seen countless amounts of patients in my career whose gum disease has gone undetected. It’s astounding! I’ve had patients who have visited the hygienist and the dentist every six months but still there is massive amounts of subgingival calculus around every teeth. And it is deep and tough to remove.
Just guess the surprise of the patient when instead of having a 15 minute check-up and 30 minute hygienist visit like normally, she will now need three 60 minute visits to remove the calculus thoroughly and a 4th visit in three months time. To be honest, this upsets me often. It’s not that difficult to diagnose the gum disease. It’s not rocket science for crying out loud!
I have spent way too many hours explaining why my colleagues have not noticed the gum disease. And my efforts for not sounding too annoyed at my fellow professionals sometimes fail miserably. Luckily, most of the patients take it relatively easy and do not demand compensation from the previous dentist. Instead they are normally very grateful that somebody caught the condition.
There will be information for professionals next but the patients benefit of reading it too. If you are a patient you can move on to the end of this post if you want to skip the professional part.
So Why Don’t You Recognise the Gum Disease?
There are five probable reasons (add more to the comment box if you wish).
Lack of time. In 15 minute check-up the dentist should go through the medical history of the patient, check the teeth (loose fillings, decay, fractures etc.), the soft tissues (inside the cheeks, tongue, lips, roof and floor of the mouth and the throat) and the gums. Plus there might be need for the x-rays. Fifteen minutes simply is not enough for this considering that the disinfection business before the next patient should be done as well. Even 30 minute appointment might not be enough.
The X-factor. By X I mean money and it is related to the time issue. Dental practices have 15 minute check-ups because instead of having two patients in an hour that pay X amount for the visit they can have four. Four times X is better than two times X. At least for the practice.
Lack of basic skills. We have an instrument which finds any gum disease from any patients mouth when used correctly. Or when used. It is not by default that this instrument, perio probe finds it’s way to the check-up tray. I have seen dentist doing the check-up by using the sharp explorer only. And even if the perio probe is used, it is used incorrectly and the gum disease goes undetected. Even a gum specialist (periodontist) has failed at this and I will tell you more about it later in this post.
Lack of experience. When you are an experienced dental professional (either a dentist with a great interest in the gum disease or a hygienist) you can recognise gum disease from a distance. I will give you an example.
You sit in a bus on your way home and somebody sits next to you. He yawns and 3 seconds later your nose detects an odour you rather not smell on your free time. Periodontitis (aka gum disease)! Thank goodness the bus has a good ventilation and the odour is soon gone and you hope he keeps his mouth closed for the rest of the journey. Then the guy’s phone rings and it’s his mother…
I can often recognise the gum disease by just looking at the patients mouth. The gums have a certain look on the sites of the pockets. Even if there is only one deep pocket in a healthy mouth, you can spot it out by the looks of the gum. It is difficult to explain how they look so I won’t even try. Anyone experienced know what I mean. The point is that the more you examine the gums and find the sites where the deep pockets, subgingival calculus and gingivitis (bleeding of the gums) are, the more you learn to tell what looks normal and what doesn’t.
But do not worry if you are a newbie. Just learn to use the perio probe correctly and you will be fine!
Forgetting how smoking hides the gum disease. Heavy smoking can make the gum disease invisible to the eye and often the dentists and hygienists are misled by the looks of the heavy smoker’s gums especially if the oral hygiene is good at that very moment. Heavy smoker’s gums look healthy and pale. There’s no sign of the red and swollen gums. No sign of the bleeding after probing. And yet the disease is there.
Even if the gum disease is not visible to the eye with the smoker, it is still there for the perio probe to find but with the smokers you really need to master the technique. Often the smokers gum line is very tight and it is difficult to find access to the pocket (once you do, don’t let it out until you have probed the whole side of the tooth).
Use of the Periodontal Probe
When I was at dental school learning the arts of the dentistry, one of our teachers (a periodontist) said one day annoyingly “They didn’t even know how to use a perio probe!” At that moment we were practicing scaling in the school’s clinic but this outburst was not addressed to us students (thank god as the teacher was scary as hell) but to a group of dental hygienists who had come to revise perio skills at the dental school. This one sentence has stayed in my memory for some reason and only until now I understand what she meant and why she was so annoyed.
Not only the hygienists fail in the technique of the perio probe but also the dentists and even the periodontists. I will tell you about one periodontist who saw one of my patient.
I had referred the patient to the specialist with all the relevant documentation (x-rays, perio chart etc). When I saw the patient 6 months later a course of treatment was finished with the periodontist. I examined the patient’s gums and found a 10 mm pocket on one of the molars. The depth was the same as before referring. The patient told me she was going to have a control visit soon with the periodontist so I wrote letter about the persistent pocket.
Three months later I saw the patient again and nothing was done to it. A periodontist had said to the patient that there is no pocket.
No pocket! I’m going to show you the pocket!
I took my DSLR and put a perio probe into the pocket and fired away. The patient got the photo on cd and gave it to the periodontist on the next visit. I’m afraid my story ends there. I never saw this patient again as she got retired and was not able to see me as we were too expensive.
Ten millimetres deep pocket and it went unnoticed by the specialist even when the location was pointed out. What chances do the rest of us less-educated ones have if the one wearing the black belt in our industry is not able to do it?
Note to all dental professionals who examine patients gums: Please check your perio probe technique. There are plenty of information about the use of the perio probe on the internet plus hands on courses at the dental schools. And those who are not using a perio probe, shame on and start now!
What Is the Gum Disease?
I won’t go much into details about the gum disease but I will tell you the warning signs when you should visit your dentist:
your gums bleed when brushing/flossing/eating or they bleed spontaneously
your gums hurt when brushing/flossing/eating
your teeth have become longer over the years or they have tilted/rotated/moved
your teeth feel loose
you have wider gaps between the teeth than before
somebody has told you often that your breath smells. Gum disease doesn’t always produce bad breath especially in the early stages. It is the advanced periodontitis when the smell can be obvious to everyone else except to the bearer. But how many of you tell the other person that their breath stinks? Not many, unless it is your spouse in concern
The gum disease is always caused by the bacteria in your mouth. When the bacteria is removed effectively and regularly the chances for you getting a gum disease are minimal. But even if you are looking after the teeth well (brushing thoroughly twice a day and cleaning between the teeth once a day with a product that was recommended by the hygienist) go to see your dentist if:
The gum disease is treated by simply removing the bacteria (both soft bacteria, plaque and hardened bacteria, calculus) and teaching the patient the correct techniques for removing the soft bacteria regularly by themselves.
Anyone can start better oral hygiene routine at home without seeing a dentist. Getting rid of the daily build up of bacteria effectively may cure the gum disease. This means brushing twice a day with electric toothbrush and cleaning between the teeth preferably with something else than a floss (floss is better than nothing of course). You could try Gum Soft Picks at first. Aim to the size that feels slightly tight between the teeth.
But remember, you are not able to remove the hardened plaque (calculus). Also if the calculus has build up below the gum, you will need to see dentist (for an assessment) and hygienist (for scaling) to stop the gum disease progressing.
There is no easy way out of the gum disease. It will most probably hurt like hell and the gum will bleed (in some cases heavily) in the beginning when you brush and clean between the teeth. If you at this point stop e.g. using an interdental brush that was recommended to you or you use it every second night because you think you are harming the gums, the gums will keep on bleeding and hurting. You will never get out of the vicious cycle. So persevere, be brave and have a faith on us professionals.
Sometimes if the gum disease has advanced to severe stage, you might need surgery on your gums (performed by the periodontist).
I have a confession to make. I am not perfect as a dental professional even though my posts may give the expression that I do everything as we are taught at the dental school. I do my best but I have weaknesses as well.
Another confession. I sometimes feel quite overwhelmed by some patients’ way of arguing about the well researched facts on dental health. Banging your head against the wall is not fun in the long run and in our business it tends to make us cynical and worn out mentally.
Of course there are good days and bad days. On bad days I have thought about changing my profession to the one where I could sit between piles of paper and no-one to talk to (anyone care to hire me?). On bad days I have given up trying to convince the patient about cleaning between the teeth when I have faced a non-cooperative patient the fifth time that day.
Fine, carry on practicing your beliefs…
Sooner or later you will learn I was right…
It’s your teeth not mine…
This does not happen often, but I wanted to bring out the great mental load we have on our profession. We need to have sort of a mental radar on ALL the time so that we can find the right approach to each patient. As each patient is different. But there will be a patient that slips beneath our radar. I have come to conclusion that with these patients there is no right approach. I call these patients Anti-Patients.
There are at least 5 types of Anti-Patients that I have listed below. If a new one comes to your mind, please share it in the comment box.
When I interview patients on their first visit, one of my questions is:
Which toothpaste do you use?
The most common reply is:
Dunno… Anything they sell in the supermarket.
But if the patient is a health-conscious one, they know exactly which toothpaste they use. And it won’t be just anything from the supermarket’s shelf. They also know that often their beliefs in health can be found controversial amongst the health professionals.
So after they have told that they use the aloe vera toothpaste/herbal toothpaste or any other non-fluoride toothpaste, they will carry on explaining the reasons behind it with fists raised into boxer’s pose (not really, but you get the gist?).
The fluoride is toxic..
There is fluoride in the drinking water anyway…
The fluoride is linked to health problems like cancer…
I only listen, let the patient finish and then carry on to the next question on the interview. I leave the toothpaste issue until I have build up a little bit more trust and until I have examined the patient’s mouth.
I know what I am going to find especially when the patient has used non-fluoride toothpaste for a long time. In my experience about 1 in 1000 patients has oral hygiene habits that good that my interference is not needed. One in thousand! And the likelihood that this one patient is the one who uses the non-fluoride toothpaste is close to zero. This means that poor oral hygiene together with non-fluoride toothpaste results in decay. And that is what I am going to find from the anti-fluoride patient’s teeth.
A faint white line on the enamel of the tooth close to the gum line that is the first stage of the decay. They are still reversible lesions of decay but they will often get discolouration that ruin the aesthetics of the smile. Sometimes the decay is already beyond stopping and requires a filling.
As some anti-fluoride patients take the advice on board, many don’t. And the most disheartening are the ones who practice their anti-fluoride beliefs on their children as well.
Want to know more impartial information on fluoride? Click here.
Amalgam has been used for about 150 years on people’s teeth. Although we have passed the peak of the amalgam phobia long time ago, there are patients who still believe the amalgam is a health risk. They either do not want to have a new filling made of the amalgam or they want to have the existing ones to be removed and replaced with white ones.
Now, there are dentists who have dollar/pound/euro (or whatever your currency) signs in their eyes whenever this kind of a patient walks in. They do not discuss about the reasons behind the patient’s wish or what the operation of changing the amalgam into white fillings mean. Of course they don’t. They do not want the patient to change their mind.
When a patient expresses this kind of a wish to me, they get this info every time:
Composite filling is not an option for an amalgam. Instead the ceramic or gold fillings are and those are many times more expensive than amalgam
Amalgam can last a lifetime, whereas average lifespan of a composite filling is somewhere way under 10 years and ceramic’s just slightly higher
If there is no problems with the amalgam filling, there is no reason to replace it
Replacing many amalgam fillings with white fillings will affect the bite
There are no health risks with amalgam as a filling
If choosing to have all the amalgam replaced with white fillings anyways, find a dentist who does laboratory-made ceramic/gold fillings and uses proper protection when removing the amalgam fillings as it is the most hazardous part of the life of an amalgam filling
I am always happy when I learn on the next visit that the patient has changed his mind about having amalgam replaced. And for some reason the patient is relieved as well.
It makes me sad when beautiful amalgam fillings have been replaced with composite fillings. It just isn’t right.
Note for professionals: Do polish the amalgam fillings regularly as the darkened amalgam fillings work as retention for bacteria. This is important especially with patients who have advanced periodontal disease.
X-rays are the vital part of making a diagnosis for the dentists and certain conditions will go undetected without them.
Refusing to have an x-ray taken is just pure madness. It is almost the same as if you would take your car to the car mechanic and tell him that
There is something wrong with the car but do not look under the hood.
In the worst case scenario, your life might be at risk. In the matter of the car and refusing the x-rays.
Anyone concerned about radiation with dental x-rays should read this and simply trust the dental professional’s judgement on whether or not you need to have x-rays taken.
Why on earth would you decline using the safety glasses that are meant for the protection of your eyes? Beats me.
We drill at high speed just a short distance of your eyes and anything can fly out of the patients mouth – a piece of an enamel, calculus (tartar), a broken bur and all sorts of nasty bacteria and viruses. We use chemicals that are acidic when making a filling. None of these you want in your eyes, believe me.
“We should not treat a patient who refuses to use the safety glasses”, I was told on one of the health and safety courses. In ideal world yes. But when you work at a private practice it is totally different story. What do you think that would happen if I send a patient home for not using the safety glasses. No income for the practice and who is the blame? Me.
So we let the patient to refuse the use of the safety glasses and tell them to keep their eyes closed. But they never do, do they?
I know the fear of the dental visit can bring out the worst in people. But it is always frightening when a patient comes across as aggressive from the moment you call the patient in. They walk to the surgery, throw their belongings to the side table and almost jump to the dental chair with arms crossed. They
dismiss everything you say
do not take the safety glasses
are suspicious of everything you do and want to see every instrument you have
tell you that they do not want to have a lecture
ask when you graduated
tell you how another dentist/hygienist did things differently compared to you
Thank goodness these kinds of patients are rare. But when I am faced with this kind of a hostile situation, I speak only when it is absolutely necessary and just do my job. I am glad when the patient is gone and hope we never meet again. But there is an exception. You see sometimes a miracle happens somewhere between the polishing and goodbyes.
The patient that just moments ago was a manifestation of the devil is suddenly the opposite and full of questions about oral hygiene. “Now he wants advice!” is my thought when I have couple of minutes time left before the next patient. But I do not have a heart to ask the patient to leave when I realise that all the hostility was due to the fear of the dental visit. Amazing fear!