Dentists Are People, Too
As a dentist, I’m well aware of the stereotypes that are out there about us. We are not popular people. Dentists are mean, cold, sadistic, and chronically running behind schedule, right? I get where some of that comes from. I mean, we stick people with needles and do things that hurt. And some dentists truly are just a–holes.
Example: a dramatization of a true story, told to one of my friends:
SCENE: dark smoky cigar bar with plush couches and cleavagey waitresses. A group of old men dentists are kicking back after their grueling 3-day work week, drinking pricey bourbon. The leader of the pack adjusts his cravat, which I think is like a tie for rich people, or is at least French for tie. He takes a drag off his expensive cigar. ”You know who’s not doing this right now?” he asks his companions. ”Poor people.” They all laugh.
(What the what?!)
But we’re not all like that! Dentists are people too. And you should treat us as such. Just sayin’.
I mean, it gets pretty old when several people per day walk into your office and tell you “I hate the dentist.” In what other profession is it okay to walk into the room, meet someone, shake their hand, and then tell them you hate them?
Or say you’re at a dinner party. Someone asks what you do for a living. You say, “I’m a dentist.” Basically it is completely socially acceptable for someone at the table to say “You are? I hate you!” And everyone else can totally laugh because it’s hilarious and they all hate you too. It’s okay if you go home and cry yourself to sleep because no one likes you. You deserve it. Because you’re a dentist.
And talk about unrealistic expectations. People will come in for an initial visit with me, and demand that I take this tooth out OMGRIGHTNOW because it’s been killing them for months and they can’t wait one more day. Well listen here, your tooth didn’t get that way overnight so maybe you should have come in a little sooner and I can’t push back the rest of my schedule because then everyone in the waiting room will be grumping about dentists and their “sundial schedules” and you wouldn’t like it if I did that to you, now would you? (Of course I’m a pushover and can’t stand to see people in pain, so I take the tooth out anyway. Usually.)
Or they’ll come in with a list of things they want done, but don’t want to hear about what they actually need to have done. Example:
Patient: I want my teeth whitened.
Me: You have ten thousand cavities. Let’s take care of those first.
Patient: I want my teeth to be at least 47 shades whiter than they are right now. Do you do Zoom whitening?
Me: Let’s focus on this giant abscess that is giving you a fever right now.
Patient: I want my teeth to be so white that they blind people permanently as they walk by me. Like, unnaturally white. Picket fence. Chiclets.
Me: This infection is really bad. You are most likely going to die.
Patient: You must not have heard me when I said I wanted whitening.
Me: You must not have heard me when I said your face is going to fall off.
Patient: Do you do Zoom whitening?
We want to help you, people. Well, maybe the bourbon guys I told you about earlier don’t care too much about helping you. But I do. I promise. So next time you go to the dentist, remember: we are people too.