Have you ever thought about the dentist when that ‘dreaded’ visit arrives? Well, probably not, as most people, understandably, only think about themselves when they are at the dentist.

Who would be a dentist?In my experience, these are the most common thoughts, frequently voiced to the dentist during the appointment:

  • I don’t really want to be here
  • Nothing personal, doc, but I hate (going to) the dentist.
  • Is this going to hurt?
  • How much longer will you be?
  • You are going to tell me off (again) about how much better I should clean my teeth
  • What’s going to be found this time?
  • This is going to cost ‘an arm and a leg’ (again), it’s so expensive.
  • He/she is running late (again), will I be out in time?
  • How can he or she spent his or her whole life looking down people’s mouths? And so forth.

How do dentists know what you are or may be thinking? Well it’s because, unless they have only just graduated, they have heard these comments all before, over and over again.

Now, it’s not that they may not be valid feelings or concerns. Although in reality, many and particularly those concerned with perceived pain and so anxiety, have less validity in today’s modern world. However, have you ever thought of what it must feel like being on the receiving end of either such comments or sentiments?

By the way, for a ‘bit of balance’, a few positive comments as well:

  • That’s great, I always come out with my mouth feeling so clean.
  • The dentist is gentle, I hardly felt a thing.
  • Goodness, I love the result (usually ‘cosmetic’), thank you so much Doc.
  • That was quite a nice way to spend half, one or even two hours (away from work, kids, hustle and bustle).
  • The dentist and his staff are so courteous and considerate towards me, I actually feel quite spoilt!
  • If he or she does this all day long, what a stressful, difficult job this must be!

How often does the dentist hear these or similar positive comments? Well we have all heard them – just not exactly very often!

So, is it hard being a dentist and why would anyone want to be one? In reality, for most people, and maybe particularly the English, being a dentist is pretty far down the ‘ what I would have liked to be’ list.

The vast majority of dentists are caring, people-orientated individuals. They are far from the ‘sadists’ that popular culture jokingly has and sometimes continues to paint them as.  In today’s highly competitive world, every dentist, particularly in the private practice, has to (or certainly ought to) give 150% of themselves all the time to every patient they see. If they don’t, their business may start to ‘evaporate’!

So to be a good, and hopefully successful dentist, one needs to be:

  • Caring, and genuinely want and enjoy helping people.
  • Like dealing with people, a sentiment not infrequently ‘tested’ by a difficult or even unpleasant, aggressive patient.
  • Be able to multitask, at least mentally, most of the time.
  • Be analytical (to make the right diagnosis), be creative (to provide that beautiful smile)
  • Be empathic (to address patients’ fears and anxieties) and perhaps be really resilient (have a ‘thick skin’ ), when you so often end up hearing and absorbing so many of those negative sentiments I identified at the start of this blog.

So, at your next dental appointment, spare a thought for the professional on the other end of the dental instrument while you are lying flat on your back in the dental chair.

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