During my time at AFC, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and connect with so many patients, each of them with different stories and circumstances in their lives. I can say that I have learned from them, and they have learned from me, in many ways. Recently, a middle-aged patient came to our clinic for dental care for the first time is his life. When I met him, he was scared and mentioned that his teeth were “very bad” because he had never had a dental cleaning. He began to feel more comfortable talking to me and told me stories of his life back in his country. I think we made a connection quickly because I speak his native language, Spanish. As we continued with his dental exam, I was very happy that he asked many questions about his oral health. He was very aware that he needed help and he wanted to learn everything that he possibly could in order to maintain good oral health at home.
His treatment plan involved scaling and root planing—or a “deep cleaning”—to remove the plaque and tartar above and below his gumline. I proceeded to explain the treatment plan to him, and he was very excited to start. When the day of his first appointment arrived (deep cleanings typically take 2-4 appointments), he couldn’t stop apologizing for the bad shape of his mouth.
He said, “I’m so very sorry that you have to work so hard because my teeth are so dirty.” I simply kept telling him to not worry about it and to not apologize because I was there to help. During his third and last appointment, I gave him a mirror so he could see the finished outcome. He was so happy and mentioned that his teeth never felt so clean before. We talked for a little bit and at the end of his appointment he gave me one last thanks and asked me if it was okay if he gave me a tip. In my years as dental hygienist, I have never ever had a patient offer me a tip before, and this was very shocking to me!
This type of story makes my heart feel full. I know that there is still a long road for him, but at least he is finally moving in the right direction. I’m glad to work at AFC, alongside team members that not only give the best high-quality care possible but also care about our patients as people.
-Ana Bailey, RDH
P.S., of course, I didn’t accept the tip!