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Thoughts About Teeth From a Dentist’s Wife

I often get asked about teeth because people know my husband is a dentist. Luckily, I rarely get the full, open mouth view with a finger pointing to a tooth in the grocery store. People usually save that treat for my husband. Trust me, that has happened before and not just once. All teasing aside, I find people are extremely curious about dentistry and have lots of questions about their teeth. Typically these questions are issues a patient should be addressing with his or her dentist at regular 6 month check ups.

Not surprisingly, most of the people I fall into dental conversations with haven’t been to a dentist in a long time and are embarrassed about the length of time it has been since their last dental visit. I get it. We get busy. We prioritize our time and our finances in different ways. Let me tell you one thing I’ve learned from personal experience: YOUR TEETH ARE IMPORTANT!

Showing off my cheesy smile in 1979.

I have grown up with a love for teeth. My mom worked at a dental office when I was growing up. I started working at a dental office when I was 19 years old and still work in the field. I married a dentist. My husband and I have lots of friends in the dental field – assistants, hygienists, dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, dental lab owners and more. We talk teeth A LOT, even at home. Personally, I brush and floss regularly. I’ve gone through ortho twice. I whiten my teeth. I go in regularly for check ups and cleanings. I realize the value of my teeth. I know I am a freaky exception, but I also want to share that realization with everyone I meet. YOUR TEETH ARE INVALUABLE!

Dr. Matt and his dad, Matt Sr.

Years ago, my father-in-law had a partial denture that needed to be repaired. He was without his partial for about a week while it was at the lab. During that week, my father-in-law had terrible indigestion because he wasn’t able to chew his food properly. He was so excited to get his teeth back! As soon as he did, his digestive issues cleared up. It was wonderful! It was also a testament to the value of teeth.

Also, many, many years ago, we had a young man call our office requesting to have all of his teeth extracted and dentures made for him. This gentleman was in his early twenties at the time. When he explained what he wanted, I was completely perplexed, but I scheduled him for a consultation with our dentist. At the consultation, our dentist refused to extract his healthy teeth and the patient went elsewhere for treatment. I think about that man every so often and wonder if he ever found a dentist willing to extract all his teeth. He was young and healthy. Why in the world could he not see the value in maintaining his natural teeth? I think Dr. Seuss said it best in his book, The Tooth Book, “And when you get your second set, THAT’S ALL THE TEETH YOU’LL EVER GET!” In other words, you only get one chance with your permanent teeth.

Generally, most of the people I fall into dental talk with want to know more about dentistry. How much do certain procedures cost? Can you actually get a crown made in an hour? Is whitening expensive? How much does Invisalign cost? Does your husband do root canal treatments? While I can answer some things generically, others I cannot. I find myself saying over and over, “Just give them a call. Set up an appointment. Someone at our office can answer your questions much better than I can.” While I feel as though I’m a great representative, I’m no expert.

Your teeth are invaluable!

I also find I inadvertently make people feel guilty for not taking better care of their teeth. I get the embarrassed smile and the “I know I should just do it” look. “It” usually being “call for an appointment”. I never mean to make people feel bad about their teeth. I do not judge. Ever. In fact, in those situations I find myself feeling a little embarrassed and I typically make up a crazy excuse like, “I don’t really have the option of not taking care of my teeth – my husband is a dentist.” That may be true, but I think no matter what Matt did for a living, I’d still take care of my teeth to the best of my ability.

Another common topic I hear from people is that they seem to constantly be looking for a dental office to call “home”. They may be new to town or their previous dentist retired. There is no relationship established and they are searching to establish one. I get it. I’m all about relationships. Now days, I feel as though my kids’ doctors are here one year, gone the next. We just get established with a physician and we hear he or she is leaving for another clinic out of state. That lack of provider continuity seems to greatly affect patients. If their provider is inconsistent, they become inconsistent patients.

Here’s the crazy fact about dentistry: Dentists are ultra consistent. (They also save EVERYTHING, but I’ll tell you about that in another blog post.) It takes a tremendous amount of effort and financial commitment to establish a dental office. Typically, a person who invests that much of themselves into a dental practice is going to be there for a long, long time.

My stash of business cards.

Once a patient establishes with a dental office that they trust and feel comfortable at, it usually turns into a long-term relationship. I encourage people to just call and schedule an appointment for a cleaning and exam or for a consultation. Meet the staff. Get a feel for the place. Let it become less scary or new to you. Begin to let it feel like home. The first step is always the hardest: make the initial call. Of course, I do try to always carry Matt’s business cards with me in my purse, but establishing with someone – anyone – is the important thing.

In conclusion, yes, I love teeth. I love perfect teeth. I love imperfect teeth. If you and I have talked face to face, you can bet I have taken notice of your teeth. We are all built differently and that is what makes each of usspecial. The most important thing is that you’re taking care of the teeth you have. I love seeing people smile. I’m not going to lie – I especially love when it’s my husband that partners with you to make your smile the best it can be, but you seeking consistent care for your teeth is most important thing. The first step is the hardest: call for an appointment. I promise you, at Pike Lake Dental Center, we will do our best to make it an easy, pain-free and pleasant experience for you. Your best smile is our goal! We are a wonderful place to call home.

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, wife and life-long cheerleader of Dr. Matt

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