Oh no! Back so soon? Here is Dr. Butler, and he’s done it again! A big welcome back to him and thank you for providing a humorous sequel to last year’s post Did That Just Come Out Of My Mouth…
Dr. Richard Butler obtained his D.D.S. from Creighton University School of Dentistry in 1998. He maintains a private practice in Wilmington NC, while still maintaining ties with the New Hanover Community Health Center of which he is the original Dental Director. He is past-president of the Wilmington Tri-county Dental Society, past-member of the Cape Fear Community College Dental Hygiene Advisory Board, Adjunct Faculty member UNC-Chapel Hill DISC program, and volunteer dentist at Cape Fear Clinic, a non-profit clinic to the under-served.
“There ain’t no cure for stupid”, the saying goes. And yours truly is a perfect example. If you had the pleasure, or should I say morbid curiosity, of reading my last treatise regarding the horrendous, however innocent, things that come out of my mouth on a daily basis, then read on. Believe it or not, I do not seem to learn from past transgressions in my daily discourse with the wonderful patients I see each and every day. Regretfully for me, dentistry is not strictly “hello, how are you…open wide!” It is in fact a dance to engage in a human connection. This then translates into a relationship of trust which then allows for the dentistry to be done. This requires dialogue, and for me it goes like this…
I’ve been seeing Joe for years now. Joe is a great guy, who brings the girls flowers every now and then, and cards of thanks to show his appreciation…well, up until I made fun of his dad. Let me explain. Joe’s dad, let’s call him Bob, is getting up in years so Joe brings him to his appointments. I walk into the operatory to greet Bob and I am immediately taken aback by this huge square gauze taped to the top of his head. The whole time I’m evaluating and talking to him I can’t stop my eyes darting to it! It turns out he had recently had some skin cancer removed from his head at the dermatologist. So my evaluation is complete and I explain his dental condition and the multitude of options he has to address his needs. Realizing I have probably overwhelmed him with options, while staring at the top of his head, I end my monologue with…”do you have any questions (pause, wince)…off the top of your head?”…did that just come out of my mouth? With that, I quickly exited the room, reprimanding myself silently.
In dentistry you learn very early on to be careful where your fingers are in someone’s mouth…’cause someone’s going to bite you! Luckily I have very small hands with very short fingers, so they are rarely in the danger zone, however once in a while it can be a little close for comfort. When it is a close call, this is a perfect opportunity to have some fun with the patient, embarrass them a little bit and threaten to put a note in the chart! Patients love it and will always sheepishly laugh…well not always. So the wonderful Linda is in the chair for her first visit with our office. She’s had her teeth cleaned, x-rays taken, and is now having her comprehensive exam performed. I’m checking this and checking that, and then we look at the way her bite comes together. At this point I have Linda bite her teeth together, and with the speed and force of an 18 foot Everglades alligator she chomps down. Holy crap! Luckily with my cat-like reflexes I just get my hands out of there. I then jokingly exclaim, “you almost bit my thumb clean off!” To which she immediately replies, “Like this!” As I look up, I see my worst nightmare, I’m in shock. Do I laugh at her wit, do I cry at my awful luck. She’s holding up a hand with NO THUMB! Are you kidding me, how can this be true…did that just come out of my mouth? Almost speechless, I jokingly asked if she used to be a dentist…and I vaguely remember a joke about the clickers the contestants use in Jeopardy, then I slinked out of the room in another moment of shame.
I treat everyone in my practice and I love them all the same. We have young, we have old, we have big, we have small, we have men, we have women, we have straight, and we have gay. It’s all good. This particular day we had a gentleman who was in his early twenties, let’s call him Roger. He was openly gay, very flamboyant, funny and engaging. It was his first appointment with us and I came into the hygiene operatory and introduced myself. As I was performing my comprehensive examination with the assistance of my hygienist we got on the subject of orthodontics, braces and crooked teeth. Roger regaled us in the dental history of his family, giving the details of his five siblings all requiring years of orthodontic treatment including braces and headgear. He was particularly proud of the fact that he was the only sibling that never needed to have braces. With his mouth wide open and me concentrating on the subtleties of my comprehensive examination, I responded to his proclamation by saying, “wow, you must have got the STRAIGHT jeans.”…did that just come out of my mouth! Luckily I had concluded my examination, because honestly I couldn’t see at that point, my senses had all left me as my brain went into damage control mode. After one fraction of a second of awkward silence, the patient and the hygienist both laughed and told me, “that was a funny one Doc,” to which I sheepishly grinned, taking the acclaim to the inadvertently funny quip, hiding the fact my blood pressure had instantly skyrocketed and sweat was dripping from my brow!
It has been just over a year since my last travel down “wish it could be, but probably never will be forgotten” memory lane. Unbelievably these situations continually arise. I believe there could be some pathologic condition that predisposes me to these occurrences. However, until there is a diagnosis, or more importantly a cure, my sister will have a yearly entry for her blog, courtesy of her brother…guaranteed!