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A Day in the Life of a Dentist
Published on 16 March 2017 by Nirosha Banduseela, updated on 02 May 2017
Happy Oral Health Day! In light of this great day, I thought it might be good to give patients a behind the scenes look at what we dentists get up to in a day...
I was looking forward to coming into work today as when I looked at my appointment list last night, I noticed that a couple of my favourite patients were coming in.
I start the day at 9:30am and when I walk into the surgery, my nurse who I've been working with for 10 years has already got the room ready for our first patient- a young girl who I saw for the first time last week. She is barely 8 years old but has developed a very sweet tooth and prefers to drink juice than water. Unfortunate consequence is that she now needs an extraction. When we saw her last week, I spoke to her and her parents on the impact of sugar and acidic drinks on our teeth and she seemed to take it all in. We prepared her as much as we could for today which is to be her first extraction (and hopefully her last). She walked in to the surgery wanting to be brave but quite clearly anxious. We talked through what she may experience today and she was quite happy to proceed. A brave little trooper really as she had only met me last week!
She had some numbing gel placed on her gum and when the area was tingly we proceeded with the anaesthetic (injection). We have to be careful what words we use to describe procedures to children as they have such a vivid imagination and of course anything that we do explain should be age appropriate in a way they understand and can relate to. The extraction was uneventful and she (and her dad) coped well with the procedure. We placed the tooth in a little treasure box for her to take home and keep under her pillow for the tooth fairy.
My next patient was a wonderful gentleman that I have been seeing for nearly 11 years but unfortunately he has slowly developed Alzheimer’s disease over the years. He now has to come in with his daughter as he can no longer articulate what he wants to say clearly. Very sad really as I remember the wonderful conversations we used to have in the better times. I'm in the process of making a new denture for him and at the end of treatment he held my hand - I guess to say thank you, though he couldn't articulate it. I will be seeing him again next week to continue with the denture making. I quickly called the dental lab to discuss the specifications on the denture.
The next few appointments were uneventful and the morning ran swiftly with us seeing patients for their routine check-ups followed by a couple of planned fillings.
Following lunch, I had an emergency patient added on to my list who was suffering from acute tooth ache. She was almost in tears when I saw her and she hadn't slept most of last night as she was in so much pain. After examination, it was clear that the nerve on one of her teeth was infected and we discussed her treatment options. While I was speaking with her my nurse promptly got everything ready for her and we managed to address the pain and start some treatment. She should be out of pain from now.
We did root canal treatment for our next patient. He is a new dad and is very sleep deprived and our running joke is that he comes into have treatment to catch up on his sleep as he inevitably falls asleep at every treatment appointment. It's always a pleasure to see him.
I have to finish on time today as I am planning to go to a ‘continued professional development’ meeting after work. All dentists have to keep updated on their knowledge and today's meeting is an exciting topic on a ground breaking procedure using key hole gum surgery to tackle gum recession.
I finish up my notes and thank my nurse - she stays behind to finish sterilising the instruments and clean the surgery ready for another day. There is no time to get bored!
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