It happened just yesterday. I gave my advice for a patient to get some fillings done. Some were new cavities; some were replacements of some existing silver fillings that were done decades ago and now were failing. I had done the exam 2 months ago, made my recommendations and the patient now had the availability to get work done.
I walked into the room, and my patient said, “I only want to do the one new cavity.” “Alright,” I replied, “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to replace the old silver fillings that had cracks in the enamel and the leaks surrounding the amalgam?” At that moment I grabbed my mouse to bring up the photos of her failing fillings I had so meticulously shown her the months prior. Then IT happened (the “it” hit the fan as I would like to say).
“Well I don’t want to replace the old silvers because I heard from a friend that there are complications.”
“Is your friend a dentist?” I asked.
“No…..but she told me she had problems, and I don’t want to have problems”
“Did your friend see me, and said she had problems with her fillings here?” I asked.
“Well no…., but I just don’t want to have problems.”
At that point I tried to explain to her again that her dental issues could be easily solved and I did not foresee any complications associated with her treatment. If any thing, if she continued to do nothing to restore her old fillings, she could risk fracture and the need for more than a filling. Regardless, we only did one filling, on the new cavity, and I had not seen her since. I probably will see her when a tooth breaks unfortunately.
Seriously though, I am glad people want to help, but please when it comes to medical and dental care, never assume what you went through is ever similar to what your friend will go through. I wish it was that easy where I could be that so across the board. If a filling was just a filling and a patient was just a patient, I think I would be way more successful at streamlining my operation. My patients are like snowflakes- they all are unique and don’t all require the same set of tools.
We as dentists want to do our best, and we want you as patients to ask questions to become involved in your care. Trust me to know when not to go into so much detail. I do not want to scare you away.
But please recognize that what perhaps your friend went through in Peoria is not what you will go through in Fort Lauderdale. Please do not run away from a needed treatment because a friend “psyched you out.” I am blessed to say that more often than not, patients report back to me saying, “Doc, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.”
One of the biggest aches I recently got is when a patient needed a root canal, and opted for an extraction because they are more afraid of a root canal than they were from the removal. Even when I attempted to reason with my patient, he brought his friend into the operatory to tell me how bad the experience was for him. Of course I did not do the root canal on his friend, but it didn’t matter. The damage had already been done and we removed the tooth.
At the end of the day, please take into account topics your friends may tell you about their dental experiences- good and bad. Then take them to your local dental health provider and let he or she alleviate your concerns. There are good and bad in every profession. You as a patient, and your friends, together, can come to ask some very good questions that can help you find the right dentist for your care. But please, when you find that right dentist, trust him or her to work with you, to guide you to oral health.
Dr. Max Zaslavsky
6451 North Federal Highway #129
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Ph: (954) 491-3544