Patient V: Where did it go wrong? 

Yesterday I had a patient ask me “Do you ever get tired of looking in people’s mouths all day?” And my reply was an honest “No.” however, I followed up with something along these lines – What I do get tired of is seeing the same patients over and over again with the same problems asking how do they fix it – giving them the same response over and over and they never seem to take my advice.

When I go to the doctor, or the mechanic, or to get my eye brows waxed – if the professional in front of me says – you should eat healthier/exercise more, get an oil change and tire rotation, and arch your outer brow line – there’s a good chance I’m going to listen to them. Without question.


Simple answer: they are the professional and I came to their place of employment looking for a solution to a problem. My area of expertise: dental hygiene [and the occasional game of Scrabble].  I can tell you A LOT about it – more than you have time for right this minute. Sure, I dabble in total body health but I’m mainly focusing on the head & neck area – not total body, not car repairs, and certainly not arching my brow line.

Today, this exact scenario happened. And I’ll be honest, it sucked the life out of me. I was mentally exhausted after patient V left my operatory. Not only that, but I was down-trodden and quite a bit heart-broken the rest of the day.

I know, I know. I can’t care about my patients teeth more than they do but it still bothers me. Hurts a little even.

V presented for a six month check up. Last visit March 2016. Last visit prior 9 months. Last visit prior immediately following delivery of baby #3 (and now family of 6). Needless to say, irregular history. I firmly believe in the power of a power toothbrush (PTB) – even healthy patients can benefit if your focus is prevention and not reaction IMO – and V and I had had two conversations about their benefits in an attempt to treat the onset of Gingivitis at home without professional intervention. And now here we are:: supra/sub calc all 4Q, mod-heavy hemorrhage, thick biofilm, generalized IP stain, and self-reported poor-fair home care. What’s a DH todo but recommend Gingivitis Therapy and re-emphasize the need for a PTB (in an attempt to provide a better quality home care experience to prevent this very situation in the even the irregular appointment trend continues).

V was at a loss for words and could not believe that this was happening – even though she reported that between babies 3 and 4 she had “gum disease treatment for free because the DH liked me so much” (that is a direct quote).  She stated that because her oral condition wasn’t worse but the same as previous appointments, there is NO WAY a PTB was better than a manual, and that because her gums don’t bleed I must be wrong.

To make this even worse, V left the office in tears – which I am still very confused about.  There was no amount of patient education I could give her or pamphlets I could show her to help her understand the importance of treating AND maintaining her oral health. About an hour after her appointment, she called the office and cancelled her husbands appointment for the next day.

Where did things go wrong? What could have been done differently to prevent this scenario?


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