DISCLAIMER: In this ongoing series, I answer reader questions. All views expressed in these discussions are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. And although I am a medical professional, I am not YOUR medical professional - I don't know your history, habits, allergies, favourite colours, etc... the breathtaking details that make you uniquely you. As such, please consult with your health care practitioner before engaging in any diet, drug, or exercise regimen. Please don't do anything stupid - it would make me very sad.
How old are you? - Dentistry
Ah, the age-old question (pun totally intended) I'm asked daily in both the dental and modelling professions. The root of the question itself has absolutely nothing to do with chronology, but more so how it aligns with one's pre-conceived notions.
For example, when I'm asked at the hospital or clinic, the patient does so because of my "youthful" appearance - the assumption being that a young doctor is an "inexperienced" doctor. Many jump to the conclusion that their care will be compromised at the hands of this "baby in scrubs". I understand and empathize. But people, let's reserve judgment based on ability, not appearances.
Here's my advice: choose a dentist based on your comfort around them. Everyone has this innate mechanism, fine tuned over countless years of evolution, that helps us "read" another person - some call it a gut feeling, others call it a "Spidey-sense". Does the dentist put your mind at ease? Do they listen - and I mean really listen - to your concerns? Have your words been taken into account when designing your treatment plan? When answering questions, does the dentist bark out an answer from behind the chair, mask is still on; or do they make eye contact and explain until you've shown understanding?
A good dentist has nothing to do with age.
A good dentist has everything to do with their (1) passion for the craft, and (2) compassion for those they work with.
On the rare occasion, a patient will ask my age to see if they can set me up with their granddaughter. Don't do this, please - it puts me in a very uncomfortable situation.
How old are you? - Modelling
More often than not, it's other models asking my age. Rarely because they're interested in how many times I've gone around the sun; instead they're curious how close their guess is. There is an odd sense of accomplishment when the age you guess is spot on. Another "fun game" when meeting a new model is called "guess the ethnicity".
Having modelled internationally, here are a few observations:
Maturity and age are not mutually exclusive
Male models tend to be older than female models
Fashion models on average are younger than commercial models
Russian models are usually between 15-19, rarely do I meet one over 21
When guessing the age of Asians, take what you think they look and add 6.5
If you're ever unsure, undershoot... ALWAYS undershoot
Seriously, how old are you?
I was born in the '90s. The year of the horse. I don't know my sign.
Do I really need the filling?
Many times a patient will ask whether or not the filling I recommend needs to be done.
Let's put it this way: if it doesn't absolutely need to be done, then I will be the first to let you know. There are some situations when I look at an x-ray and there is maybe a faint shadow on the tooth, indicating a "pre-carious lesion". In those situations I'll explain what I see, what it means, and that we can either restore or increase brushing/flossing habits and re-evaluate in 8-12 months (assuming it's asymptomatic, of course).
Other situations where we'd have a conversation about the "necessity" of treatment:
Will the filling serve the purpose of alleviating existing pain/discomfort?
Is the restoration for purely cosmetic reasons? What are the risks involved?
What can we expect if we wait?
Does treatment align with current medical research? (Eg. mercury, fluoride, etc)
Is treatment right for you right now? I.e. Emotionally, physically, financially... and if "no", what can we do as a dental team to better serve you?
Unfortunately, the perception of dentists has gone the way of used car salesmen, which is why I encourage such questions. By asking, you better understand why we prescribe treatment and become an active part of your treatment - gone are the days of paternalistic medicine. Remember, no surprises are a good thing for both of us.
As a dentist, I recommend only what is "best" based on the existing situation and current research. And let's not forget that "best" is subjective even amongst the dental community - what one professional sees as ideal may not be ideal for another. Together we discuss the pros and cons of the treatment, as well as short/long-term expectations. The ultimate decision of starting treatment is entirely up to you.
I feel for your situation - nobody ever wants a filling.
What are you listening to right now?
The King's Singers. "The Gift To Be Simple." Simple Gifts, Signum, 2008.
I love the King's Singers - to me they are the original boy band. If I remember correctly, it was my father who first introduced me this British a cappella ensemble. The theme to "The Gift To Be Simple" brings me such peace... the words flow so effortlessly, following the gentle ascending and descending melody. This entire album is my meditation.
Burning questions you're dying to have answered? Send them my way via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through social media!