Tears of Joy
A few years ago a new patient came to our office and sat down in the chair and started to cry as soon as I stepped into the room and introduced myself. Now I must admit that having that effect on people can be a very humbling experience, especially when I never met them before. As a dentist you pretty much get accustomed to the fact that everyone basically hates you and what you do, so as a result, your perspective of the world can be a bit, well, unique I suppose you could safely say. So, as she sobbed and blew her nose into a tissue my assistant had at the ready (this has happened before to us) my assistant and I stared at one another and shrugged our shoulders.
I remember sitting down and the patient turned to me and immediately blurt out “nobody listens to me and I know they think Im crazy but I hate my smile.” It was during this catharsis she was engaged in that I saw the issue immediately. She had obviously had dental work done recently but that was not the full story here. When I looked at her front teeth I saw two completely different sets of teeth. What I mean by this is that all her right side crowns were a beautiful shade of white with realistic shading and a pleasing share, while the left side teeth were a yellow brown and about 2 to 3 millimeters shorter than the other side. To make matters worse, the diving line between the different sets of teeth was the exact middle of the patients mouth, making her smile look cartoonish and quite honestly, ridiculous. We spoke after she calmed down a bit and she told me the story of how she had a dentist for years who she liked, but recently his practice had gotten so busy that she believed she wasn’t getting the attention from him she always had in the past.
In the last few months this dentist had told her she needed to have crowns on her front teeth and she said she had agreed and consented, but when he delivered the new crowns there was a major problem. The original crowns were the teeth on the left side of her mouth, but the dentist decided that instead of matching those crowns, he would make her what he considered to be “the perfect set of teeth”. Obviously anyone can see the issue at hand. According to the patient, the dentist delivered the new set of crowns and the patient loved them, but pointed out that the other side did not match.
At that point the patient told us that the dentist said that he didn’t have time to do the other side. This seems strange, but guess what? He was right. The correction for this situation was now far more complicated. After a number of appointments over the next several months we worked to fix all of her issues and also managed to fabricate beautiful new porcelain crowns to match the other side finally. It was truly a life changing experience for her. Last week she came back to the office for a routine check up and cleaning. When I entered the room she started to cry again. I thought to myself, “Oh God, what now?”. The hygienist sat back in her chair and cringed, not knowing what to say or think. The patient got up and hugged me and sobbed on my shoulder. She said “Thank you for listening to me and not thinking I was crazy”. I was touched, as anyone would be of course, and then I said to her, “I never said that.”