Friday, January 6, 2012

I Sure Miss Him

My old dentist, that is. My new dentist seems nice. He's younger, sure, but obviously they all have to get trained and certified and all that, so I'm not talking about the actual stuff that happens inside my mouth. I'm talking about the stuff that happens inside my mind.

My old dentist had to retire due to macular degeneration. Fortuitously, I seem to run into him from time to time, but then find that I yearn for the days when he was in charge. His office was nice and normal looking--comfy chairs, good variety of magazines, and all that standard stuff. He and his staff remembered things about me. They were all easy to chat with. He was very real and honest with me, letting me know if something needed to be done right away or if we could "put a watch on that tooth for the next six months." I BELONGED there. His staff has visited my classroom to promote good dental habits with my students. He would tell me about going to the Dominican Republic with his kids and grandkids to do dental work for free. Such a great guy (his wife died a few years ago)! Once I had an appointment on Valentine's Day and he gave me a rose! His staff explained that he buys a vase full of roses to give to all of his patients on Valentine's Day. Another time I was flossing on a Saturday morning (because I had felt so guilty about not flossing before bed the night before) and my crown popped off! Oh no! It was a Saturday morning and I was holding my crown in my hand. I called his office and left a message. He called me back a few minutes later, told me to meet him at his office, and he cemented it back on within minutes. Service doesn't get any better than that! And I could always count on a hug or an arm around me as we walked from the exam room back up to the front desk. Yeah, I think he loves me too!

Let's talk about the new dentist. Very nice man. And talk about gorgeous teeth. It's just that it seems like he sold his soul to the Devil to break into dentistry. My old dentist's office has been purchased by some big dental corporation. It's the only way the new guy could afford to take over the practice. I think of it as Satan's Plan. They plaster their company name all over the place and dump it into your ears at least a hundred times while you're there. They don't want anyone to forget where you are and who you're paying. The first time I met my new dentist, everything was the same (same office, some of the same staff) except the dentist. Actually, while I was in the chair that first time, the old dentist was stopping by and called out, "Is that J?" He came in and patted me on the shoulder. So, of course, I felt at ease.

But all that was so six months ago. Since then, I've been receiving a ridiculous amount of coupons from this dental corporation in the mail. I am better than an oil change! I have insurance! Why must I receive coupons? Stop texting me! Well, I had to go in for my six month check-up the other day and Holy Cow! They have remodeled and I HATE it! I. Hate. It. I didn't sign up for the circus. I started to count the different colors of paint on the various walls, but I stopped at ten. Seriously, who designed that? So, bad feeling immediately upon entering. Next bad thing was the receptionist (never met her before in my life) standing up with a camera saying, "Are you J? SMILE!" And three flashes later I was doing a slow burn. No other doctor has ever taken my picture except for the team of dermatologists who spent six months researching my rare disease (and my face wasn't in any of those pictures). Also, those doctors were really polite about asking before snapping.

The waiting room is horrendous (is that two r's as in horrible?). The furniture looks okay, but it isn't comfy. And...there are no magazines. None. They have little stacks of "coffee table books" strategically placed around the room. Translation: cheap books from Costco that don't hold up well because of poor bindings. I sure turned my nose up at that. Did someone do a marketing survey or some analysis and decide that magazines in a waiting room went out with the last century? I'll bet you're thinking that I'm just getting older and can't deal with change. No, I just like to soak up a little Reader's Digest every six months or so. I don't subscribe to National Geographic, but my old dentist did. I wasn't really looking forward to a giant picture book of African lions, one that is too big and too heavy to hold comfortably while the binding continues to disintegrate.

While I was waiting, I was asked if I remembered having such and such an x-ray. Yes, I did remember having that. However, there's no record of it, so they decided to do it again. "As long as it flies with my insurance company," is my mantra. Several x-rays later, I received a lengthy monologue about a service they offer which is NOT covered by my insurance. I refused it. The hygienist managed to avoid gasping audibly, but she had a dramatically sad, downcast look on her face that I wasn't accepting this marvelous thing she had to offer. Really, I felt like she was more of a salesman at the front door. "How 'bout this? How 'bout that?" No, no, no. I'm a pretty tough sell.

The hygienist. She was nice. This corporation has trained her to represent their company well. Like a little vulture, she used every method known to investigate my mouth, looking for trouble anywhere she could find it. She measured my pockets (all two's and three's). She checked the density of my enamel (some new laser gizmo I'd never experienced before) saying, "We use this on ALL our patients." I'll bet you do, Little Girl. I'll bet you use everything you can get your hands on, not to really CARE for your patients, but to find as many reasons as possible to get them to pay your company more money. Rather dejectedly, she informed me that she couldn't find any plaque to scrape off! Ah! One little triumph for me!

Then the dentist popped in to do his visual inspection--still a nice guy--I have nothing against him personally. I just feel so sorry for him that there wasn't a way for him to pay for the practice at that office without involving this whole big corporation. Well, he found a little trouble on the x-ray, so I do have to return. As he was doing his inspection, he was talking to the hygienist who was taking notes and said, "Maybe we should do something about Number 15." Then he tells me I'll need something else. I looked up into his eyes and called him on it. "You said 'maybe.' Does it need to be done? Or not? I don't want to hear 'maybe.'" I think I ruffled his feathers a little. Didn't mean to, but I felt like I had to defend myself in enemy territory. From the moment I walked in, I felt like they were after me. Against me rather than for me. I believe I took a teensy bit of wind out of his sails. It almost seems like they have to make some quota for the company, you know, like those multi-level marketing schemes (upline, downline)? It reminds me of food servers who try their hardest to get you to order an expensive drink, an appetizer, AND dessert on top of a huge meal to inflate your ticket and their tip. They seem so sad if you don't get one of everything.

THEN...I had to go back to the receptionist so she could review my "treatment plan." She informed me how much my treatment for my return appointment would cost and I was blown away. I asked her to look me up on the computer and find out how much I paid the last time I had that treatment from the other dentist. My insurance has not changed. I noticed she had typed my insurance company's name followed by "Premier Plan." I asked her about the word "premier" since I had never heard that term in association with my insurance before. She told me she didn't know and that her phones were down. I whipped out my insurance card and showed her the term my company uses (care plus). She messaged someone on the computer and they did not message back. Now I have to contact my company to follow up on this. I am suspicious. She ended with a song and a dance about how some insurance companies contract differently with different dentists. Whatev. You are not pulling the wool over my eyes.

A few last complaints. They bake cookies. Fresh and warm all throughout the day. You can smell them right away when you get there. I declined the offer. Not only do I think it's inappropriate that they offer cookies (one of the staff chuckled about keeping customers by giving out sugar--I am not making this up!), but I seriously wonder if they all have licenses to handle food. They are also having some drawing for a gift basket prize. The gift basket is sitting right there by the receptionist. It's absolutely full of sugary snacks and unhealthy foods. I did not enter the contest. I shake my head in wonder. What did I tell you? Satan's Plan. No, I did not indulge in a piece of individually wrapped treats sitting in the candy dish on my way out. I. Did. Not.

Dr. H, I thank you a million times over for taking such good care of me in the past. I pray for blessings on you and all your posterity for working hard, building an amazing practice, serving those less fortunate in foreign countries, and doing it all while maintaining your INTEGRITY. I knew I was very lucky to have you, but now I know just how lucky I truly was. God bless you, Dr. H!


  1. Oy vey!! Sounds more like a car dealership than a dentist office!!! My dentist does cookies too, but they do Otis Spunkmeyer where they come ready to bake so no real handling of food goes on. Makes me wonder though. Maybe it's because most people fear the dentist office and they was to be seen as warm and cuddly or something? (Grandma's baking effect maybe?) I've had my dentist since I first went to the dentist. That's good and bad. I've had some "lovely" experiences there. But he takes my insurance and knows my mouth and will probably retire soon. Then we will be on the hunt for a new dentist.

  2. Boy, do I feel like a heel about all this. I was just reading about George Albert Smith and found out he was always "kindly, patient, wise, tolerant, and understanding." I have a lot to learn.

  3. G Trevor Smith
    60 E State Rd in PG
    (801) 785-2574

    He's like your Dr. H. And they have Reader's Digest :)

  4. Oh Jody-- we have this in common. Do NOT get me started on my last TWO dentists!! I had HORRIBLE experiences- both ended with each dentist seeing my nastiest side ever! A good dentist is really hard to come by. I will forever be thankful for Dr. Robert E. Mcfadden-- I might even move back to Teas just to have him as my dentist again! :)