NOTE- This blog piece was written 3 weeks ago when I was en route to teaching in Scottsdale for several days and then embarking on a 2 week vacation.
I am writing this from approximately 34000 feet above New Mexico on my way to Scottsdale, AZ to teach for several days before departing for my annual 2 week vacation. Now I have to tell you that having a 2 week vacation had always been a goal of mine since I was 20 years old. And, since I had set is as a serious goal, I actually was able to achieve it 6 years ago and I have done it every year since. And every year it has been an unbelievably delightful way to unwind and really relax- I travel with my older son, Teddy, who is now 22, for the first week and then, along with my younger son, Joey, we go to Rehoboth for the second week.
But what’s strange about this year is the gnawing feeling I have, that I don’t need to go away for 2 weeks- that it feels somehow a little unnecessary. And the reason for this is that I truly love what I do and in many respects, don’t feel as if it is actually “work”. Take my patient Coleen, for instance. She became a patient recently because of her husband who has been with us for 10 years. When I first saw her for a broken tooth, she assumed that I would repair it and be done with it. But after a Complete Exam, I used digital pictures of her teeth to show her what I saw- many fractured/ damaged teeth from years of clenching/ grinding including her worn front teeth. Now Colleen is a beautiful woman and her front teeth really detracted from her smile and her appearance in general.Her previous dentist was a typical “single tooth dentist”- that is someone used to crisis care; patch or repair the broken tooth and wait for the next one to cause trouble. She had always hated her front teeth but figured there was nothing she could do about it.
Complete dentistry is a totally different animal. I discussed with Colleen the available treatments that would address the cosmetic issues as well as help minimize further damage to her teeth in the years to come- after all, she’s going to need these teeth for another 40 years! She chose to have Invisalign clear braces to straighten and allign her teeth before creating the smile she desired. So after 9 months of Invisalign, she began to address the broken teeth and worn front teeth. We had discussed porcelain veneers to restore the front teeth to a whiter, brighter smile but after much thought, she decided that she really wanted new dining room furniture as well so we opted for the less expensive bonding that would also look really good but would not be as strong and will need to be redone in several years. (The point here is that there are always multiple options to bring one’s mouth to health and my job is to help each patient figure out what makes sense for them)
So this morning was the big appointment where we adjusted Colleen’s teeth to create a more stable, comfortable bite as well as adding bonding material to her front teeth to restore all the edges that she had ground away over the years. Now here’s the fun part– when she went to the ladies room (after 3 hours in the chair), she was so thrilled with how her teeth looked that she texted her husband from the bathroom and said,”wait til you see my teeth tonight!!”. That is what makes my office a fun place to be. Additionally, at the end of the apointment, Colleen gave me a huge compliment by saying that it was obvious how much I love my job by how excited and exacting I am while doing my work.
Patients like Colleen make most days in my office a joy; makes it almost like being on vacation every day……OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I’ll just say that I feel very blessed to have a job that I truly love and enjoy coming to every day. That said, I’m going to enjoy my 2 weeks coming up.
POSTSCRIPT after vacation – My office truly is a joy but vacation is awfully nice as well!! (But more on that later)