|From Patients to People: Mike’s Smile Story|
|Written by Dr. Kelvin Mah|
We’ve all seen them dozens of times: those dental ads on TV or in magazines, where a smiling patient is lying back in a dental chair beneath the watchful gaze of her or his dentist who, of course, is wearing about the whitest, starchiest lab coat that you’ve ever seen.
I’ll be frank with you: yes, that scene does take place in many dental practices, including my own (except the part about the starchy white lab coat – my stylish wife would never let me commit such an outrageous fashion crime). However, what these dental ads fail to capture is that the individuals in a dentist’s chair are infinitely more than patients: they’re people! That means they have unique lifestyles, essential values and personal philosophies. And that’s why I invest quality time with each person who comes to my practice, so that I can understand and appreciate the wholeness of their personality, the distinctiveness of their essential being, and the richness of their vision. And only after grasping all of this am I equipped to craft an ideal solution that truly fits with who they are and meets their needs on every level: body, mind and soul.
In light of this, you can imagine how delighted I was when Mike visited me a while ago – delighted because, in communicating with him as a person and not as a patient, I learned that he had a strong personal philosophy and value system, led a sophisticated lifestyle in both his work, personal and social life, held extremely high quality standards, and that he was extremely busy, with no desire to visit his dentist repeatedly to get optimal results. In other words, Mike was the ideal Smile City Square Dental patient!
Mike explained to me that his existing mercury fillings no longer “fit” who he was, and where he was going with his career and life. As an executive manager for a company leading the way in corporate social responsibility, he wanted restorations that aligned with that holistic worldview, and at the same time, were natural, durable and highly functional. He also wanted to enhance his appearance, so that the confidence and strength he felt within could be freely expressed through his smile without any trace of hesitation or self-consciousness.
After discussing several options, Mike and I agreed that CEREC would be the ideal solution. CEREC, which is an acronym for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, uses high tech CAD-CAM technology to craft precise-fitting, metal free, natural-looking, and incredibly strong permanent dental restorations in a single visit. The procedure is quite comfortable, and there are no messy dental impressions required. And while it’s true that most dentists use CEREC for crown work only, I was a very early adopter of the technology, and know how to incorporate it into my artisan dentist’s suite of minimally invasive, highly effective tools for partial restorations. When Mike arrived for his treatment, I began by preparing his teeth so that I could save the maximum amount of original tooth structure. The conservative nature of this treatment is quite an advantage, as no human-made material – however well-crafted – works as well as one’s own natural tooth structure. Next, I used CEREC's special camera to take images of Mike’s sculpted tooth surfaces, then created his restorations using CEREC’s powerful CAD-CAM software. Finally, I milled the restorations on-site out of a block of extremely strong, high-grade ceramic designed to match the colour and feel of Mike’s smile, and installed them. All this took place in a single visit!
I was delighted with the results, but of course, Mike’s view is much more important:
“The convenience of having the treatment performed in a single visit was great. I also found the overall experience relaxing and comfortable, which was a nice surprise – in the past, I would flinch at the thought of going to the dentist. I also appreciated how friendly and professional Dr. Mah was, and how he did everything right the first time. He really got to know me on a personal level, and helped me understand the process. And I’m very pleased with the durability of my new restorations. I’ve never had a problem of any kind, and feel that having safe, metal-free restorations aligns more with my personal philosophy and lifestyle.”
Indeed, as Mike’s story highlights, an individual in a dentist’s chair is more than a patient. He or she is an authentic and unique person, and is entitled to be treated as one. In doing that, dentistry is elevated far above mere treatments and procedures to where it has always truly belonged: in the honest, caring and transformative service of people – body, mind and soul.