Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to lose a dental patient...

*Post Edit:  Dear readers, I'm so sorry this is so long. I guess I need to work on my editing skills! Tonight it's late, though, so editing will have to wait*

One of the very few perks to Dr A working a blue collar job is the fact that they give him insurance.
Great insurance!
The kind that even takes care of your eyes and teeth!
So, of course, I scheduled us both appointments.
                    My favorite dentist had died since the last time I lived in this area and had dental work. My second favorite had moved out of state. So, in what turned out to be a less than brilliant move, I just called the dentist who's practice was closest to my house. I hadn't heard anything good about them, but I hadn't heard anything bad, either. Plus they had GREAT office hours. The flexibility for appointment scheduling was the real determining factor for me picking them. Many people had told me that Dr Gritsiv and Dr Croft were phenomenal, but they didn't have the flexible office hours this particular dentist had. The problems started as soon as we got there though. I'd given the receptionist Dr A's social security number twice over the phone, so I was a little miffed when the receptionist said she didn't have it. In an era where identity theft can be devastating, losing someone's social security number is a major no-no. I'd told it to her twice over the phone, so it made me wonder... why doesn't she have it? Did she not write it down? Did she write it down and misplace it? Did she write it down on a scrap of paper which some ne'er-do-well made off with and was currently filling out credit applications with in some darkened basement? Most likely, disorganization was the culprit, but still... bummer.  

       The next member of the staff did an even better job of making me think maybe I'd chosen poorly. In all my years of flossing (which I do regularly) I've never flossed so hard that it broke the floss. In response to my pain ridden wincing, the hygenist laughingly explained that "they" call her the "floss nazi" as she worked my gums with such force that it broke the floss... twice. She complemented me on how little work I'd left for her to do- my teeth were very very clean! (I'd recently had them whitened thanks to an awesome groupon, and I'd done an extremely thorough brush/floss/rinse before the appointment). The fact that my pearly whites were so clean and sparkly made me wonder why the intensity of the next step was neccesary; she brought out a metal hook, the likes of which hadn't been used on my teeth since I was a little girl in a rural town, and went to work on me with force that matched her flossing effort one to one. Someone spoke to her from the hall distracting her such that her forcefulness didn't subside, but her accuracy did, which left deep scratches nowhere near my teeth filling my mouth with blood. Noticing my clenched fists and overt bleeding, she remarked that it looked like I had a sensitive spot, and advised me on my brushing habits.  Maybe its just because I'm spoiled by the modern usage of  ultrasonic cleaners and hydro-pics, but the whole cleaning just felt like a torture session. Thoughts of a museum exhibit I'd seen of ancient medical equipment filled my mind, and I couldn't help but imagine a not too distant future, where the unrelenting metal hook had it's own glass case and it's own laughable description of use.

I'd started trying to just "faze out" when the sound of my daughter playing with my husband in the waiting room made it's way into the room so, during a brief break in the procedure,  I commented on how much she loved the flower pinwheel the receptionist had given her, and wasn't it great how such simple little things could keep a little one entertained indefinitely. For some reason, her response to this was a long rant about how much she disliked kids,
disliked being near them,
disliked their noisiness,
disliked their chaos,
and how she just couldn't think when she was around them. Now, I'm not someone who thinks everyone should have kids or there is something wrong with them, but being openly disdainful of people for being tiny and young  doesn't make a ton of sense to me.
                    Okaaaay... so at that point I knew I'd definitely have to find a different dentist for Elsie. It's one thing to hate kids. It's one thing to talk about hating them in private with other people who hate kids, but it's an entirely different thing to talk about your disdain for children with a patient you just met, KNOWING HER DAUGHTER IS IN THE NEXT ROOM. The more I thought about the entire interaction, the more ludicrous it seemed. Did she seriously just open up and tell me all that? Did the "floss nazi" think I'd commiserate, and just be like, "haha I hate kids too. I just put up with that one in the other room cause I made her." Seriously, how much would I have to hate my family to subject them to this practice.

                Finally, the cleaning was over, and the Dentist came in. She was lovely, and professional. She used a small camera to show me the two very small cavities (actually, they weren't "real" cavities, but I can't remember what she called them- they still needed to be worked on, so they might as well have been cavities in my mind). I loved being able to see what she was talking about on the screen. I appreciated how deftly and expertly she worked, especially considering the beating my mouth had taken at the hands of the "floss nazi".  Unfortunately, like every other member of the staff there, there was at least one thing about the dentist which made me think it may be best to go to a different dentist... her teeth. Just as I wouldn't trust my hair to a hairdresser with a head full of frizzy permed hair, or trust an educator who doesn't know the difference between there, their, and they're, I definitely don't feel comfortable trusting my teeth to someone with bad teeth. After all, if she doesn't care about the appearance of her own smile, why should I trust her with the appearance of mine. I know, I know... it's shallow of me to feel that way, but it is just the way it is. When she took off her medical mask I felt like someone who'd just seen his building contractor's house falling down.

On the car ride home, I asked Dr A how it was for him, and I wasn't surprised to hear that his experience in no way surpassed mine.
If anything it was worse.
      So, after doing a great deal of research on area dentists, I found one we both agreed on, and scheduled follow up appointments for us. The second dentist was Dr Croft on Beverly road- he filled my two cavities painlessly, and his entire staff was professional and courteous, and not in the least bit insane. No one there refers to themselves as any kind of nazi. The receptionist was uber-organized. Dr Croft himself has a gorgeous smile. This morning Dr A had an appointment where they filled his cavity, and as with my experience there, it went seamlessly. We'll continue to go there for as long as we live in this area, and when we do move, you can bet I'll do my research BEFORE picking a dentist.

---------------------------Post Edit---------------------------------------------------------------------
I'd planned to just change dentists and leave it at that, but Dentist #1's office called today, politely inquiring about why I'd had my dental records transferred. I had my hands full at the time, and asked if I could just shoot them an e-mail. I was planning on updating my blog today, and as I wrote the e-mail, I realized it would make a decent post, with just a little modification. I intentionally left out the name of dentist #1 because they're a new practice, and I sincerely hope they work the kinks out and can thrive as a business, especially considering there's no surplus of dental care in the neighborhood where they're located and the spot they occupy sat vacant for far too long. I don't aim to hurt anyone's business, even if I don't personally support them. Though maybe the floss nazi would be happier in an occupation where she won't run into the under 18 crowd.

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