Patient's New Smile Highlights the Benefit of Teamwork

Dentists continually train to expand our skills and practices, using this knowledge to enhance our patients' lives. But we don't work in a vacuum; we have great team members supporting us, and shouldn't underestimate their contribution to our overall success.

By Michael Silverman, DMD

Dentists continually train to expand our skill set and build our practices. We use this knowledge to enhance the lives of our patients. But we don't work in a vacuum. We have great team members supporting us, and we shouldn't underestimate how much they help us reach our goals.

The Power Of Sedation Dentistry

I once had a long-time patient; let's call him "Max." He had an extensive implant case that was failing, and we'd discussed a comprehensive treatment plan many times, but he kept delaying it. It wasn't about money. Instead, Max kept saying he needed to put it off due to business travel – and he faithfully came to his hygiene visits. Max was never late, never canceled, and never missed.

At one of his dental visits, my hygienist (let's call her “Coni”) asked Max a simple question, "What is standing in the way of having the healthiest mouth you could have?"

He answered that having the original work done had been a horrible experience. They had "clamped his mouth open for 8 hours," even taking a lunch break and leaving him like that in the chair. Max was in pain the whole time and didn't want to go through that again.

Wow. As a sedation dentist, it's hard to hear this kind of story.

Coni then asked him, "If there's a way for you to have the treatment done and not remember it or be aware of the work, but still be able to tell us what you need during treatment, and have little to no pain during or after, would you move ahead?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Max.

Max didn't want to share the previous horror experience with his dentists, but he was comfortable enough to share it with his hygienist. Because he'd built a relationship with her over time, the team approach helped Max discover sedation dentistry and get the care he needed. It was an extensive case, but Max moved forward with a strong, healthy smile.

Sounds Easy Because It Is

How many of the patients in your hygiene chair are putting off treatment? Ask them why. You may be surprised how many will say "yes" even when they previously said they need to save money or delay until they pay off the car.

Max was ecstatic about how the sedation appointment went. So much so that he showed up the next day to share his experience on camera for a TV commercial we were filming.

He was happy with his smile and the care. I was thrilled with my hygienist and to be able to use the sedation skills I knew could be a life changer. Remember, sedation dentistry is truly a team sport.


Author: Dr. Michael Silverman is a globally recognized lecturer, educator, author, and patient's rights advocate, and the founder and President of DOCS Education. He has appeared in front of 28 dental boards to advocate for the right of dentists to provide sedation in an environment of safe and reasonable regulations. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and believer in lifelong continuing education, Dr. Silverman continues to champion safe and effective minimal and moderate dental sedation.

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