Today ended up being a pretty good day. Mostly nice patients, showed up on time, everyone paid, and nobody gave me a hard time about something they read on the internet that proves you can heal cavities with chewing eggshells or some shit like that. There is more and more of that now. People see something or read something on the internet that is the “secret cure to something that dentists don’t want you to know about” and they go crazy with it. They have this big giant infection eating through their jaw bone, but they somehow think that putting an oil on it or chewing on something or taking a supplement will cure them and make all the decay that took years to build go away. It’s getting harder and harder to help people when they are coming at you with Dr. Google and the solutions that claim to cure all while I watch the infection eat deeper and deeper x-ray after x-ray. They literally think they can grow new limbs or new organs, well, and at least new teeth, just by taking the new and trendy supplement they read about or swishing an essential oil once or twice. I mean if it was that easy, well, we’d certainly have way less children dying of organ failure and less adults stroking out or having heart attacks. But nevertheless…
Today, for whatever reason, everyone came in to my office with a smile, with respect, and with trust. And it felt great to be able to be who I have always wanted to be, even if it’s just for a day, where I get to help, cure, and treat in a way that works and lasts a long time. What an odd thing… to be a dentist. We work in the tiniest of spaces, inside a human head, we cannot be wrong, by even a fraction of a millimetre, I mean what kind of stats are those? We have to be so precise, all day every day, yet we have to also put up with the constant distrust and complaints from the people whose insurance company told them they don’t need something because apparently you can tell from a distance with no exam at all that this patient just doesn’t need a crown after all (get my sarcasm, desk boy?). HA! Let me submit an X-ray to some random sitting behind a desk whose only motivation is to keep as much money as possible for the insurance company he works for, yet I am the bad guy! So apparently the dude behind the desk knows more about your mouth staring at his bonus check when he denies the most claims but he knows what’s better for you than I do? Anyways, that’s a rant for another day. Let’s talk about this again when I’ve had one of those “special” days again. I am sure it will be soon. Lol
But back to today. The schedule was booked solid but it flowed well and we all got along well. We finished the day in our usual way, with a roundtable meeting we call “The Social”, where we just rehash the week, and basically everyone gets to vent, laugh or share whatever they want. I started this a few years ago. It was supposed to be for another purpose but ended up being a “de-brief” type of meeting and everyone loved it so I continued it. Basically at the end of a Thursday (beginning of our weekend since we don’t work Fridays or weekends) everyone would come into my office where I have a big round table, and we would summarize our week, our challenges, our wins, and mention anyone who did something good. Sometimes the vents about our toughest moments were the funniest, and summarized in a way that allowed everyone to relive the moment, but a few days later, it would make it lighter somehow, and just telling the story made the situation more bearable. So, as I sat at my desk listening to them talk, and laugh with each other, and Marissa said we should start to have wine with these meetings (ha ha), especially right before the long weekend, I finally felt like I created what I always wished for: the team, the culture, the group of people that, despite being so different, truly and genuinely care about each other and have each others’ back, and ultimately enjoy talking to each other. That’s what “The Social” ultimately is and nobody is ever in a hurry to leave on Thursdays, as a result.
As I watched the interaction, and heard the laughter, I knew I created something special. It was I who built it, who created that culture, and it was hard work at first. People in dentistry naturally don’t trust each other. If you’ve ever worked in a dental office, you will probably have a lot of stories of back-stabbing, drama, and even more stories about the dentist who is an arrogant asshole or a bitch from hell. And maybe it’s true to some extent that many offices harbour those kinds of people and create a place full of drama and turmoil, I also have to believe that there are so many others that do what we do, though most probably didn’t start out that way.
I didn’t start out this way.
It only took 23 years. Although it feels nothing like it. I graduated in 1996! That’s a hell of a long time ago. Though it honestly feels like yesterday. When I look back at the old photos from dental school, I look like I am 12 years old. Which probably explains why, on most days, I feel like I am 34 again. I’ve been practicing dentistry for 23 years now and on most days I love it, but there are times, and this week was one of them, when I absolutely hate being a dentist. And I am guessing every single one of you who is one agrees with me. I also think anyone who doesn’t work in a dental office will never understand us. I honestly believe we have the most convoluted job because we are hated as much as we are needed, respected as much as we are distrusted, and loved as much as we are sued. So I want to begin to share my story with you here so maybe we can all find a home, a place where we finally meet others that can relate to us when we complain, vent, and absolutely despise what we do, only to get up the next morning and do it again in the hopes that today is a different day.
So if you want to join in finding out more about my journey, other dentists’ journey, share your own or just read about the trials and tribulations I endured, and ultimately the solutions that changed my practice, my business, my confidence, and my entire life, click here to subscribe to: Why I hate being a dentist” and join our community of hard working dental professionals, always wanting to learn, and willing to help each other — The Ultimate Dentist Club.
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