The patient’s perspective: eighteen years with my dentist.
The relationship between patient and dentist is a challenging and complex one, needing to be based on trust and mutual respect. If one of these is absent, the relationship will collapse. Hopefully, with the trust and respect it would be best if there was a genuine ‘liking’ of the individual.
My own history with George is an interesting one.
Back in early 1997, just before a routine check-up, scheduled with my regular dentist, Dr Peter A, I was informed that he had very recently and suddenly died and that I would be seeing a locum replacement.
I had been with the same practice for many years and had gone through various changes of dentists who had either retired or emigrated. I felt resentful of yet another change as I had grown to greatly like Dr A and, despite this not making sense, felt resentful at his very early death.
I agreed to keep my appointment with his replacement, Dr George Druttman who had just returned to London after about fifteen years out of the country. I must admit that I did take a rather instant dislike to him. I resented him being there; I guess I resented that he was not
Dr A. Everything about him was different, his manner and, indeed his whole approach.
George examined me and took x-rays (it seemed I hadn’t had those for quite a while). He was straightforward, very professional, precise and ‘to the point’; perhaps too much so. I was appalled at how much treatment I seemed to need and fearful of the cost. Yet he explained everything and showed me the x-rays and dental photographs he took, so I really could not disagree with him.
Consequently, I cautiously agreed to let him commence the treatment, giving myself time to ‘reserve my judgement’. Meanwhile, I did start to ‘look around’ elsewhere, but found no one appealing.
I realised I was going to invest a lot of time, effort, emotion, energy and money in this new dentist and so I re-evaluated him afresh. Despite all the common sense and logic that he gave me, one thing really impressed me on an ‘emotional level’. He was non-judgemental. I know I have a small mouth and every dentist I had previously had complained about that. I almost started to feel guilty. George is not a small man with small hands, yet he managed to treat me delicately and carefully without any comment.
I also noticed that the dental nurse (who had spent years with Dr A), seemed to really like working with him and she so obviously admired and , above all, respected his professional, scientific clinical as well as psychological approach. They became a great team and I felt more confident and secure. The ‘battle axe receptionist’ (who I had always quite liked) also so obviously respected him and commented on how good a dentist he was. That definitely made me feel even more encouraged.
So quite quickly, I began to view George differently. I appreciated that he was a perfectionist, meticulous at his work and never rushed treatment. I noticed how much longer he took over consulting with me as well as carrying out the clinical procedures than his predecessors. He obviously had very high standards and I instinctively knew I would benefit from that.
Over time he talked about his postgraduate experiences in the USA and then his family life in Sydney. I have a lot of Australian friends and visited there often. I realised that perhaps his straightforwardness and candour was an acquired Aussie trait and I rather admired that.
So, even though I had already gained trust and respect for George as a professional, I then began to warm to him as a person. Needless to say I accepted his recommendations and after many, many hours and appointments in his dental chair all these years ago and the regular six monthly check ups since, I am pleased to say that all my teeth and his dental work remains healthy, strong and intact. I know that his work will see me out
Now I certainly know that it was the right decision for me all those years ago, to give him a chance and not pass judgement too hastily. So we have established a great professional relationship which has continued over the years. I am now a grateful patient.
Due to him, not only have I strong healthy teeth, but he has really improved my smile and my looks. I know I really do look younger, even with the passage of time, maybe because I simply smile a lot more!
Thank you, George, for your care, concern and attention.
Joyce Cook (April 2015)