Discussion from a student doctor about a difficulty they faced

By Anonymous


I generally enjoy seeing all of my patients as most of them are very nice people, but there was one patient that I had that I didn’t want to see. I was doing a procedure called scaling and root planing, or sometimes more commonly known as a deep cleaning, and also giving him tips on how to improve his oral hygiene. This is very important for patients who are getting SRPs because without improved home care, the oral health situation will not change and they will eventually need to come back for another SRP. This patient however, was very uninterested in learning about how to improve his oral hygiene, and even when the faculty was trying to explain to him why he needed to brush better and stop smoking, he seemed annoyed we were taking up his time. I saw him 2 more times after the first to finish up all of the SRPs, and afterwards he immediately asked when he could get his bridge done. At the school, we have policies in place to make sure any work we do has a good chance of lasting, so before we start working on more intense restorations like bridges, we make sure that the patient’s oral health is acceptable. That is why after SRPs are done the patient has to be re-evalauted in 4-6 weeks to see if there is improvement in home care before any other procedures are done. This patient was frustrated he had to wait, but I also felt that he didn’t not try to understand why from our perspective, and thought that he could just come to the dental school and get cheap dental work done.

I responded by informing him about the school procedures and why they were in place, and tried to be as professional as possible. Everything was fine but it was frustrating to have a patient who was so uninterested and closed off to trying to improve his own health. It’s hard for me to justify putting in effort to help someone if they’re not willing to try to help themselves, but I understand that is the reality of the world.