Half the Battle is finding the Right Dentist
By Bernadette A. Moyer
For me half the battle was finding the right dentist for me and the other half was overcoming my anxiety. This is the first in a series of blogs dedicated to my start to finish dental experiences and going after that smile that I am personally looking to achieve. It has taken me a long time to get here!
When my sisters and I were growing up our parents worked hard for what they had but dentistry wasn’t on the top of the list with 7-people in our family. Much of my early dental work took place at the dental clinic associated with the Catholic hospital where both my parents worked. Literally it was student dentists, practicing their craft at a lesser cost.
My uncle is a doctor and my mother was a registered nurse. We weren’t allowed to be sick as children. My mother would will us to wellness and her mantra was, “You are NOT sick, there are sick people in the hospital and YOU are NOT one of them!” She may have witnessed too much in her nursing career. She spent 13 years as a pediatric nurse before moving to the intensive units like ICU, CCU and ACU. Eventually she moved on to a teaching hospital at University of Maryland where she was a well-respected administrative nurse.
They say carpenters have the worst houses and I suspect we didn’t receive all the medical and dental care that many other kids do. She was afraid and I believe part of that fear was in what she professionally witnessed as a nurse and personally could afford for us as a single mother. By the time I entered the sixth grade she was a newly divorced woman with 5-girls to raise.
In the early 1980’s after my first husband left me a widow I started to invest in my smile and had much dental work done along with 6-crowns in the front. For many years I had a really nice smile but it took numerous hours at the dentist and a significant cash investment. I am pretty sure my dental cost put at least one of my dentist kids through college!
Through the years much of that dental work has shifted and aged and today there is a lot of work necessary to get me to where I want to be with a nice smile.
There is an episode of the TV series the ODD Couple with Felix and Oscar bantering that I could always relate to, it was Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as the Oscar character. Felix is giving Oscar a hard time about his avoidance of the dentist office and the conversation went something like this, “That guy that dentist didn’t even give me Novocain!” yells Oscar and Felix fast come back is, “All you had was your teeth cleaned?” That pretty much sums me up!
Getting there is half the battle since I have such anxiety over it. I had one procedure years ago where they gave me a valium to take hours ahead of the procedure. I’ve learned that it is okay not to try and tough it out.
Three years ago I was committed to having a new smile and much needed dental work done. I went to a place close by my work and one that advertised “sedation dentistry” I went through three long appointments. The first meet and greet and then the full x-rays and then the third was the consult. By the third appointment I had already invested at least 6 hours and no work had begun. The third appointment was about cost and how was I affording this? It wasn’t going to be inexpensive. I have insurance, a savings and really good credit. I wasn’t worried.
Apparently this dentist was worried about being paid since he wanted to begin with a procedure that would cost over $2,000 and he wanted cash and he wanted it 10-days ahead of the scheduled procedure. This really put me off; it seemed he was all about the money. What guarantee did I have if I paid him, the work would be done and would I be happy with it? All in all I was looking at spending over $20,000. Then I started to look closer at him and all the people that worked there. Not one of them had a really attractive smile. The place was dated in furnishings a bit messy and people were left waiting in the waiting room. I call it the “anxiety breeding room” because the longer I have to wait the more anxiety I get.
My gut said “stop, this isn’t the right place for you” and I did just that. I noticed that approximately 6-months later he had half of the retail space and I strongly suspect his business was not doing well. Therefore he needed my money and my dental needs weren’t the priority.
I became discouraged and stopped and didn’t move forward. Of course my anxiety was reduced but there wasn’t a single day that I wasn’t thinking to myself, “I need to get my dental work done.”
Believe it or not it was through social media and enough mutual friends in one of my networking groups that I was introduced to what I now believe is the right dentist for me. We connected and I immediately shared my needs and my high anxiety. He was very welcoming and his office is practically across the street from where I live. I was ready to try again.
Dr. Sawchuk, John Sawchuck encouraged me to make an appointment I was met with a very clean organized office, non-judgmental staff members and they were always on time for my scheduled appointments. He has a really nice smile and that matters to me. How can you sell something if you personally don’t have what you are selling?
I’ve had my first three appointments and will be blogging about my experiences. It is going to take some time to achieve the results I am going after, but in my mind I believe I have found the right dentist for the job.
He takes his time, explains things, gives you choices and is sensitive to my anxiety and my low pain threshold. I find him to be skilled, knowledgeable and tuned in to me, his patient. So far I have found his staff to be equally as supportive. At my consult for the road map on what we are setting out to achieve, he took plenty of time and obviously had done his homework. He showed up with three written treatment plans and would have done more if I requested them. John Sawchuk gave me choices. He didn’t balk when I went with my choice and I never felt pressured to do it totally his way. In the past I had doctors and dentist who basically presented it as “their way or the highway.” And this always both angered me and struck me as odd. Because I have to live with the decisions and all the results as it is my body and my teeth that are being worked on, so shouldn’t I have the ultimate and the final say?
For several years I hired career life coaches, I had two of them with very different personalities and quite different goals. They were hired at different intervals in my professional career goal setting and planning. Often I thought I really needed a personal life coach, one that could help me and keep me accountable for my own health care. I am not sure if it is easier now because the kids are gone and I can finally focus on myself or if it is because I am in my early 50’s and more mature. Either way, I am finally ready.
Trust doesn’t come easy for me but I have placed not only my trust but my belief that John Sawchuk, D.D.S. is up for this task. Stay tuned as we move forward and I blog about my dental progress. He can be reached at www.drsawchuk.com or 410 769-9333.
And do keep me in your prayers that things go my way and I can achieve that smile that I so desperately want, like so many other people, none of this comes easy for me.