So....I Got a Cavity in Dental School
So I got a cavity in dental school…
Yes... I got a cavity in dental school. The place where you learn all about what causes cavities, what can be done to prevent cavities, and what happens if cavities go uncontrolled. How ironic.
Believe me, I was just as surprised as you. I floss more than the average human being (granted, zero is a pretty easy number to beat), I have an electric toothbrush, and I have what most people would describe as a catastrophic amount of material regarding dental hygiene and the etiology of caries. I am fully aware of what is going on in the cesspool otherwise known as our oral cavity, yet somehow I still got a cavity.
At first I was a little in denial, like there’s no way. I floss… Just ask my sister. I floss A LOT. Like I’ve flossed an on-a-hot-bus-in-Costa-Rica level of flossing. I’ve flossed a finish-a-whole-pack-of-40-yards-of-floss level of flossing. And yet that doesn’t change the fact that I have a cavity.
Next came shame, as we all probably know all too well. How can I expect my patients, who don’t care about what exact bacterial configuration causes caries, to prevent cavities when apparently I cannot prevent them for myself? Also, bacteria. Gross.
Finally, I realized that it’s just a cavity. I’m not dying, and I’m not the 2007 version of Britney Spears. There are certainly worse things in the world than a little cavity, and after studying who knows how many semesters of pathology, I of all people should know that.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Thanks for the dramatic portrayal of your afternoon but what’s your point?!” My point is that these kind of thoughts, or versions of thoughts, are rattling through our patient’s heads as we tell them our diagnosis. In our minds, we think, “Sweet I’ll finally get to do a molar crown prep!” In their minds they are thinking, “Shoot, how am I going to pay for this? How did I let this happen? Is it going to hurt? When am I going to find the time? …And why is she smiling?”
Being the patient once in a while is not only good for your health but also good for your attitude. We need to remember what it feels like to receive not-so-great news and what information we need to hear to cope with it. Above all, it is humbling. We need to look past our Big Doctor heads full of incredible amounts of knowledge, and remember that we are humans treating humans. After all, that is why we got in this business in the first place.