Friday, May 23, 2008

My Ex Dentist

I've been going to the same dentist for the ten or so years I've been living in Utah. A co-worker recommended him when I moved here and I liked him from the start. He had a small time operation, just the dentist, a hygentist and a receptionist. His office was well used but tidy and his equipment was older but functional. He was very friendly and never in a rush. A couple years ago I was really busy with work and life and I waited around a year between visits. When I finally made time for a visit it was like walking into a whole new world. The entire office was remodeled. He had taken over an adjacent office, torn down some walls and doubled the size of his office. There were now 7-8 very young women running around in scrubs shuttling between four dental chairs in the back. All the equipment was brand new and the whole office had gone upscale with nice wood paneling etc. The place looked very nice and I was quite impressed. That was until I was taken back to one of the dental chairs. Immediately the hygentist (who looked all of 18 years old) began to criticize me for waiting a year between appointments. I gave my lame excuse about being busy but was due chastised. They took x-rays with the fancy new panorex machine and began my cleaning. As the "teeny bopper" (as I thought of her) was cleaning my teeth she mentioned a few spots that looked "grey" or had "some staining". After she finished my cleaning the dentist came in. The "teeny bopper" told the dentist I had three "areas of concern". The dentist gave me a brief hello, popped on some gloves, had me open wide, picked around for a few seconds, peeked at the x-rays, told me "you have a few areas of concern that should be filled" and left. It took him 2 minutes tops. They shuttled me to the front desk, scheduled me to come back for the fillings and sent me on my way. As I was driving home I had time to contemplate my experience. I was sceptical at first and the more I thought about it the more sceptical I became. See, I haven't had a cavity in over 15 years. Was it pure coincidence that now that the dentist had a fancy new office which must come with a fancy new office payment that I all of a sudden needed a bunch of expensive dental work? I think not! I work in health care and I know how things go. This blog is public so I'll leave it at that, but I knew I should get a 2nd opinion. Trouble was from who? I searched far and wide to try to find a dentist. A lot of people love their dentists but not for what I thought were the right reasons. They would tell me "oh, he's really nice", or "my procedures never hurt" but those aren't good enough for me. I want a dentist who will only do procedures if they are 100% necessary. I'm not scared of getting my teeth drilled I just don't like my body to be messed with unless it needs to be messed with. It took me two years but I finally found my man. A friend of Rhonda's recommended Dr Eric Felt. Rhonda was having a problem with a tooth and wasn't getting straight answers from our current dentist or an endontist so she went to so see Dr Felt. Dr Felt has a small little office and it was just him and a receptionist. Dr Felt actually does the cleanings, xrays and everything himself, no 18 year old hygentist involved. He was very nice and patient with Rhonda and even gave her his home phone number to call if she had any questions. Rhonda was very happy so I set up an appointment with him which I had last night. I was slightly concerned going into the appointment because if I actually did have three cavities waiting two years to get them looked at could lead to problems. To make an already long story shorter he did my exam, took the x-rays and proclaimed me good to go. Surprise, surprise, no cavities. He did see an area on one of my teeth that was a little grey but the x-ray was clean so he said it would be fine to just observe it. He also ground down an area on the front of my two front teeth where there was a residual of cement from my childhood braces that my previous dentist would always just ignore. I'm very happy to have finally found a dentist I feel I can trust and hope to be able to keep seeing him for many years to come.


UtRider said...

If you ever move to Scottsdale, AZ you can go see my brother. He runs a good practice. It's been interesting for me to hear him speak about the different philosophies within the dental world. He tends to take a more conservative approach. However, he's also said that because one dentist feels you should get a filling and another says to hold off and watch it doesn't mean one is dishonest and the other is being straight. Just like different riders prefer different lines on the dh, so too dentists vary widely in their treatment philosophies. A good dentist should be willing to explain why he has recommended a given approach and work with your individual situation when designing a treatment plan.

Andy H. said...

I agree, it was just interesting how this dentist was conservative for 10 years and became aggressive as soon as he got the new office and needed some cash. As you can tell I've become a bit jaded working in a hospital for 10+ yrs:)