Tomorrow morning at 9 am, my daughter will have all four wisdom teeth extracted. We were told that the new dental philosophy is to take them out in the early teen years, and not to wait, a totally contrary view to anything I had previously experienced or indeed heard. I was fortunate to wait until my 40’s before I had to go through this unpleasant experience, but to be very honest, it wasn’t that painful, and I ended up having my teeth removed under a local anesthetic. 6 hours later, I boarded a plane from SFO to London. Everyone thought I was mad, but it really was quite painless. I remember when I entered the surgery that morning, I was really quite uptight about the whole idea of being knocked out, and after agreeing with ‘The Hulk’ (I called my dentist by this name because his hands were huge when he took them out of his pockets!), that I could get them removed under a local, so we made a bet. He told me that if he didn’t get each one out in less than 30 seconds, there would be no charge! Good deal, I thought, but, true to his word, I was in and out in 30 minutes, and paid him promptly, but with a frozen, stitched up smile!
With my daughter, I decided to get several opinions before subjecting her to all this unwanted but necessary torture. One has to be very fortunate not to be born with 4 wisdom teeth and miss out on this treat of an operation.
The first dentist was all over it. He wanted the cash badly, prescribing drugs before, after and during, the whole performance. He wanted 50% now and the balance the day of the surgery. It was all about the money and NOT about patient interaction or care. This left me in no doubt, he was absolutely the wrong man for the job. The second dentist had a completely different approach. She, and yes, perhaps the reason is because she is a she, was far more comforting, thoughtful and generally caring towards the needs of my daughter and her parents. She never discussed money once, well not until we decided she was the right person for the job, nor has she asked for anything else other than our cooperation and full support for the procedure she will perform tomorrow morning. Nothing matters to her except the care and comfort of her patient, a full 180 degrees from the first guy’s position. Same thing happened when I broke my hip. The surgeon’s bedside manner was terrible, from the moment he refused to discuss the operation with me, to the lack of interest in rehabilitation during my recovery. So, it always pays to get a second opinion, and really, don’t believe everything you hear until you check the facts.
Money isn’t the be all and end all in life, and sometimes gut feelings are are far superior to any reducing bank balances. A little less for a lot more, or visa versa, can often make a huge difference. I wish my daughter well tomorrow and I sincerely hope the first dentist, like the surgeon who repaired my hip, find peace in their early retirement, which, is about ten years overdue already!