Think of this episode as a love letter to the Protruserati. We share the same struggles, and this episode could easily have been called the 6 STRUGGLES of a Comprehensive Dentist.
Here they are:
- You take your work home with you
Dentistry was either mis-sold to me, or I was just naive. When I was a Dental student I read a young dentist magazine. It had a segment dedicated to interviews with DF1 Dentists who had finished their first year in practice.
‘What do you love most about being a Dentist?,’ was one of the questions. One answer caught my eye: ‘I love that I do not take my work home with me.’
I loved that! But after almost 8 years out of dental school, I can tell you (and my wife can testify!) that I find it impossible to be a comprehensive Dentist and NOT bring my work home with me.
Treatment planning, organising photos, letters to patients, clinchecks and the list is endless – it will be a longer list for practice owners!
- New patient examinations will drain you
It takes a lot of emotional energy to see new patients. There is a difference between the 15 minute new patient exam and the 45 minutes or 1 hour new patient exam.
The longer appointments to learn what the patients goals are and help find the right solutions can be extremely challenging and require intense focus, and dare I say, showmanship.
As my principal (Hap Gill) once taught me, we are in show business.
- You have more to give and more to say
The classic sign of this is that your Nurse is always nagging you that ‘you talk too much’.
You just want to make the patient’s experience as valuable as possible!
- You dont earn enough money
Controversial. I know. If I could double your income but simplify your Dentistry and limit you to single tooth dentistry – you would probably say no. THAT speaks volumes.
You do it for the bigger picture and for passion.
Yes the comprehensive Dentist MIGHT gross more, but the amount of money you spend on equipment and courses can be eye-watering. That, and your hourly rate from all the work you do it home is ever-diminishing.
- Patients always say ‘you are the first person who told me this’ or, the more sinister cousin, ‘why has no dentist ever told me this before?!’
I never know what is the right way to handle this. I just smile and say ‘I love my job so much, that sometimes I care more about a patient’s mouth than they do!’ To clarify, I am suggesting I care more than the patient (not more than any previous Dentist – we should never throw our colleagues under the bus).
6. If someone ever stole your laptop, they would be so dissapointed
Admit it. Your phone and laptop is full of forum screenshots, lecture photos, teeth, abscesses, shade matching photos (heaven forbid) and the odd bitewing for good measure!
If you enjoyed this episode, you will also like 12 Rules for Dentistry with David Bretton!
Click below for full episode transcript:Opening Snippet: Hi guys, it's Jaz Gulati here from the Protrusive Dental podcast. And I really should be doing this live right now like this would be such a great topic to have live on Facebook or instagram to see people's comments and stuff but unfortunately timings don't work out, right now the time is 4.15 p.m. and there's like zero audience for me right?
So I’m pitching this and recording this just to the camera and I hope you enjoy this. I’ve just been one of those things where you just daydream and you sometimes get carried away and I thought what this would make a really cool interference cast episode which I haven’t done in ages. So let’s roll with it.
These are 6 Signs that You are a Comprehensive Dentist and I also thought about calling it the Six Struggles of a comprehensive dentist because every one of these signs I’m going to give you is a struggle. Now one of the reasons I don’t have the time to do this at like seven in the evening or 10 p.m. at night when there’s more people in the UK and more of a social audience in the USA as well is because I’m actually during those hours so busy and focusing on the splint course that I don’t have time for anything else at the moment and the reason it’s taken me so long like up to four years now and then a live course and now the finally the splint course going online is that I just don’t want this to be the best course on splints you’ve ever done, I want this to be the best course you’ve ever done and that’s very bold thing to say.
I never thought I’d say something like that but that’s the kind of sort of level I’m pitching at so give me a little bit more time and that’ll be out. So that’s why I’m unable to, if you don’t hear from me outside of podcasting I do apologize I’m just literally immersed in that but let’s dive into these six signs that you are a comprehensive dentist.
Jaz’s Main Topic:
Sign number one is that you take your role or you take your job or you take your profession home with you, right? I remember when I was in third year dental school, I opened up one of those like dental magazines that you get from like dental protection or something. And there was these DF ones or these dentists that were just newly qualified and they were being interviewed right?
And part of the interview questions like, what do you like most about being a dentist? And this one lady, young dentist she wrote or she said and it was interviewed and documented in this book was, ‘I love the fact that I don’t have to take my work home with me. I love the fact that I see my patients and when I’m done, I come home, I can switch off.’ And at that time I thought “This is awesome. Dentistry is going to be perfect. I can’t wait to qualify and be a practicing dentist because I can just totally do that right?” I can go to work, be an awesome dentist, come home and that’s it. My work is done.
No one told me about the lifestyle I’m living right now right? No one warned me it’s something I’m living and sometimes I think is it just me but from speaking to more and more of the Protruserati, of our tribe okay? People who are like-minded, I’m starting to gather that this is a comprehensive problem. This is a comprehensive struggle i.e. when I come home, quite a lot of times, I’m doing clinchecks, I’m doing treatment plan letters, I’m looking my photos planning cases, I’m looking my photos critiquing my own cases I’m looking at my cases and thinking okay what can I post as something educational, something valuable?
So it is by no means a nine-to-five job for me and if you’re listening to this episode I doubt it is for you either. Now I contrast this to my wife who is she’s a great dentist. She is not a comprehensive dentist and this is because her role does not require her, does not permit her to be comprehensive.
Now for those of you who know my wife her name is Sim, she is a community dentist so if you’re unfamiliar with this concept in the UK, we have something called community dentistry and she sees the most vulnerable groups of patients in our country. She sees very highly anxious children, adults. She sees patients with severe medical disabilities and these people just cannot be seen in general practice. They need special care. They need special resources which is just unavailable. They Inhalation sedation so she is not a comprehensive dentist.
It’s just a completely different type of dentistry and she comes home and she’s just mom mode, wife mode. She does all the things that she wants to, she’s a great baker but you know what dentistry outside of nine to five like there’s zero right? Other than the odd occasion of doing CPD or CE like she is someone who can switch off. She’s someone who doesn’t bring her job with her at home and you know what I think it’s nice this husband-and-wife relationship we have that I am doing this comprehensive nature try and work from home as much as I can because I need to, because I want to and then she is there and she does so much for our family like.
So Sim, if you get to listen to this thank you so much for everything you do but I think that’s why our partnership works so well because I think if you’re both like extremely comprehensive it would be a real struggle in how do you fit family life, how do we fit a social life around that.
So that was just me rambling having to think so it’s a different so you might not be comprehensive dentist I doubt it because you listen to the Protrusive Dental podcast and if you listen to this podcast you’re probably extremely passionate and therefore you are struggling with these areas that I’m going to list so I’m going to list five more in a moment but just reflect on if you’re in a circumstance where you’re not able to be comprehensive then that’s different right? That’s a different scenario issue but one struggle for sure that you do bring your work home with you.
Sign number two that you are a comprehensive dentist right? This is when you have had a morning of new patient examinations or a morning of recall examinations and you absolutely hate those days or hate those sessions because they’re so mentally draining right like I find and I do find that comprehensive dentists find that it is actually really challenging like there’s so many emotions involved in a new patient consultation. There’s so much active listening to your patient coming up with solutions to very complex problems, it’s not easy and for me I’m absolutely shattered.
I need a constantly, I need to be constantly drinking hydrating myself so if you find that you are really, really, struggling after a morning of checkups or new patient examinations you’re probably a comprehensive dentist that’s one of the signs that you’re being comprehensive because you’re not just saying “Hey Mrs. smith everything looks good I’ll see you in six months” you’re saying “Hey Mrs. smith you’re doing great but I need to discuss with this with you, you have recession which means that your gum is being now brushed away too hard and look at this photo of your gum it’s so high. Have you noticed all these crack lines in your teeth? Can we discuss this? Are you having any pain here? Let’s have a feel of your joint, you have a click on the right side, do you know what this means Mrs Smith? This is when you’ve got a little disc it’s like a hat that sits on top of your joint and it moves around and that pops on and pops off and sometimes that creates a click.”
Do you see where I’m going guys, right? So when you are a comprehensive dentist, checkups can be extremely draining not only are you having to do a lot of thinking you’re having to do a lot of speaking and explanation and really trying to give your patient as much value as possible because that’s the nature of being comprehensive right? You’re actually diagnosing more and to diagnose more you need to apply yourself more. You need to really look for things, you need to be really switched on.
You can’t just do a fantastic new patient examination and you’re feeling lethargic that day, just won’t happen it’ll be a substandard examination compare that or contrast that to when I’m doing composite restorations. Now if I’m doing a quadrant dentistry and I’ve got like an hour and a half two hours booked for a whole quadrant of composites. I am so energized after that session like i’ve enjoyed myself, I’ve done a bit of artistic work, i’ve taken photos, I’m fine but give me like three or two new patient examinations back to back then I am absolutely shattered. So that’s a sign that you’re a comprehensive dentist.
Number three, you have more to say more to give and your nurse tells you that you talk too much right? Part of diagnosing more part of explaining things to your patients more and part of having to just talk so much and pop having to give, give and give and also to have the time take a full series of photos, have the time to get pull out the intraoral camera, have the time to explain each and every stage. It’s difficult.
It takes time therefore the struggle is that you will not finish on time or you’ll never finish early right? You’re like after a checkup or a new patient examination you’ll never finish early or very rarely more often than not you’re either going to finish right on time or at least a few minutes late right? Because you’re just trying, you’re pouring your heart and soul and just before the patient leave you just want to give them some more information, you want to give them some more to think about, you want to give them a little bit more value right? It’s because you care so much and I find that when you care so much and you have so much to give, you’re very rarely going to finish early.
Number four, you don’t earn enough money. Now I know this sounds kind of weird maybe because surely right some of you saying hey you know what if you’re a comprehensive dentist then you’re diagnosing more surely you’re treating more and if you’re able to do all that then you’re probably working on a fully private basis and if you’re working privately you’re like ‘kachiiing’ It’s not the case right? I’ll tell you a couple reasons why it’s not the case.
Firstly, compare the hourly rate of the nine to five single tooth dentist and compare the hourly rate of the comprehensive dentist because the comprehensive dentist is not getting paid for all that planning usually. The comprehensive dentist is spending all this time to critique his or her own photos, looking through all the different ways they’ve done some treatment and how they could improve and guess what you’re not making money that’s not an income generating task right?
And guess what you’re also as the you know the part and parcel of being comprehensive dentist you’re spending more money, you’re buying camera, you’re buying loops. You are investing so much money on courses that it’s unbelievable like if you told a non-dentist how much money, how much what percentage of your income you are spending on courses. They will think you’re crazy right?
So when you actually add the fact that yes you potentially may be grossing more okay I’m not saying you it might be the case for some people but by time you add in how much money you’re investing in courses, your education, your equipment and the fact that you’re working all hours a day and you’re available for patients whenever wherever on email basis then maybe your hourly rate is not as high as it should be. But you know what? It doesn’t matter because you do it for passion. You do it because you care. You do it because comprehensive dentistry is more fun than single tooth dentistry and you do it because it’s part of the bigger picture. Like you’d be miserable if I told you that I doubled your income, your annual income but you’d be a single tooth dentist you’d probably say no because you’d have so much more fun being a comprehensive dentist and that’s the sign that you definitely are a comprehensive dentist.
Sign number five of the comprehensive dentist is that you will hear this from your patients over and over and over again like your patients will keep saying the same damn thing to you right and this is this is what they’ll say, they’ll say “Wow. No dentist has ever told me that before” or they’ll say if, that’s if they’re a positive person. If they’re a negative person they’ll say “Why hasn’t any dentist ever told me this before?” So there’s two types of people and those are kind of things you get.
So the next logical thing is to tackle this right like how do you answer this? What’s the best way to answer this question? Well I don’t know what the best way is okay? So I just I don’t know but I can tell you what I say right? So what you don’t, we never want to throw our colleagues under the bus right? That’s the worst thing you could possibly do right? The best way that I found to handle it is, I smile at the patient and I say “You know what? I love my job so much. I love the dentistry that I do. Sometimes I care more about the patient’s teeth than they do.”
And we just laugh it off right it gets a little bit of a laugh and it just defuses a potentially sticky situation right and it doesn’t lead them into negative thoughts about you know a different level of care or whatever. So I think that’s a good way. That’s how I do it. Let me know what you think, please do message me. Follow @protrusivedental on the instagram and if you like what I’m saying hit subscribe on youtube right now but i’ve got one more sign for you I hope you enjoyed that one but got one more sign for you and this is a funny one right?
Number six, the sixth sign that you are a comprehensive dentist is that if someone stole your tablet or your phone or your laptop right? They’d be so disappointed right? They’d be like photos of teeth like constantly videos photos of teeth and gums and surgery and the odd screenshot of a lecture or the odd conference slide with the speaker and you’re just there a lecture taking photos right? They would find your laptop or your phone so boring and I think that itself is a sign that you’re a comprehensive dentist.
So I hope you enjoyed my little rambling here. Interference cast. The six signs, the six struggles of a comprehensive dentist. Let me know what you thought and I look forward to catching you in the next episode which is going to be Ian Buckle, talking us through digital occlusion.