Nobody likes going to the dentist. Let’s face it, getting your teeth cleaned or filled is the last thing you want to do on your day off. You’d rather be out in the sunshine hiking a mountain or cuddling a loved one rather than sitting in an awkward chair surrounded by sterile mechanical instruments while a blinding light beams down on your face and a person in a hazmat suit twists and contorts your mouth in painful ways, scraping, drilling and stuffing your mouth with gauze. You go in anxious and leave with a list of problems that require expensive procedures when you only came in for a filling.
If you haven’t experienced a horror story at the dentist’s, then chances are you’ve heard one. There’s the nurse Ratchet-type doctor who seems to intentionally cause more pain than is required and only responds to your questions with grunts. Then there’s the sleazy, used car salesman type who straps on a set of braces when you only came in for a filling, sending you out the door with a huge bill you can’t afford. There’s a reason older ladies come in shaking with anxiety and clutching their bibles and reciting the Lord’s prayer when they come in for teeth cleaning— it’s because the whole dental experience can be so un-human and sterile.
In the past, dentists may very well have cared for their patients and done great work, but they hid behind a mask of stoicism that did not allow for the barrier to be broken between a merely Dr./patient relationship. There was some old myth that seemed to say, “People don’t trust other people, so act like a precision machine.”
Where People Feel Known
At BSDA we debunk that myth on a daily basis; not only are we excellent at what we do, but we make our clients feel included, welcomed, and known. No one wants to be treated like a machine, they want to be seen, and cared for. When people feel cared for, half the stress and anxiety of going to the dentist flies out the window. But In order to really care for someone, you have to know them. That means time must pass, and the conversation must venture outside the realm of the practical and into the social and emotional aspects of a person’s life. This kind of attention requires listening, asking, observing, experiencing, being-with, solving, empathizing, and understanding. These are the key ingredients that have sprouted a culture at BSDA that makes our clients feel known and cared for.
This isn’t a sales gimmick to poach people from other dental practices, we do it because it’s what makes our jobs worthwhile and meaningful too. Our patients don’t want to be treated like machines, and neither do we. That’s why we take a human and relational approach in every encounter we have with our clients. Our office and instruments might be sterile, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be. We want our clients to know that we’re not just diplomas and certificates on the wall. So indulge us as we highlight a few of our team members.
Our Kind of People
Geri Harvey, our scheduling coordinator, epitomizes and embodies the vibrancy of our office. Everyone always knows what Geri is thinking because she feels the freedom to let herself be known. Her vitality and liveliness make BSDA an incredible place for anyone to work because she gives people the space to let their guard down and be themselves, just as they are. Geri is a rare talent in that she is able to translate her friendliness into all the functional aspects of scheduling.
It’s difficult following up with people and trying to get them to come in for their appointments; clients can feel nagged and coerced, while scheduling coordinators get frustrated. But that’s where the secret sauce of care and our human approach comes in— Geri has mastered both. When clients feel cared for, and they know you have their best interest at heart, they won’t feel defensive, and they’ll be less anxious about showing up for their follow-up appointments. On top of it all, Geri always goes the extra mile for our clients. That means navigating busy work schedules and adapting to the client’s needs so that they can come in during a timeframe that works for them–she’s even able to schedule entire families at the same time. Geri doesn’t apply this much care because it’s her job, it’s just who she is. At the heart of everything she does is service, and a desire to extend a kind of hospitality to our clients that makes them feel at home.
Moving from the front desk to the exam rooms, every member of our team embodies the values we strive for. Take Lisa Gagne, one of our dental assistants for instance; she is firmly rooted in the community of Saco, Maine, which means she knows the people and understands their experiences. Her unfailing sense of empathy and her long history with all of her clients means she can put herself in their shoes. She knows all about horrible dental experiences because when she was growing up there weren’t any options. You just took the dentist you got, and more often than not it wasn’t a good experience.
Lisa’s ability to relate to the patient allows her to adjust the experience based on the client. For instance, it’s basically a universal fact that kids hate needles. That means you shouldn’t go waving a long syringe in their face, which would build up the anxiety of an already scared and anxious child. Lisa is able to crack a joke and distract the kid to the point they don’t even realize a needle has gone in their mouth. By the time the child realizes they’ve received a shot, it’s already over and done with and they didn’t even realize it was happening. All of the tiny extra details that Lisa puts into her work mean that not only is the client receiving the best quality dental work, but they also feel known. In her own words: “When they come in, they KNOW I know THEM and am prepared for THEM.”
Beyond Just Dental
There are plenty of choices for good dentists out there, but at BSDA, we know that even better dental care comes when you really know your craft and really know the mouth you’re working on. You’re not prescribing a laundry list of the same services to every patient; you are tailoring the entire experience to them, to help them keep their teeth. However, we’re not just getting to know the mouths themselves, but the person to whom the mouth belongs. We want people to leave our office with the feeling that not only do we care about their teeth as much as they do, but we care more about the people who own the teeth. If you’re reading this blog, consider this an open invitation to come in and get to know us and let us know you.