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Have you seen the dental form that asks how you feel?



How do you feel about dentists?

About making dental appointments?

How do you feel about waiting in the dentist’s waiting room?

This isn’t about uncovering deep secrets, just a way for the doc to get a feel for their patient.

It’s about feelings, and whether or not you can control yours.

The answers ranged between very relaxed to nervous, or a word that means nervous.

How do you feel, boomer?

Go ahead and check the relaxed box. No need to sound the alarm yet. You’ll have a chance later. When it matters.

By the time you get to the forms you’ve met the dentist. If you didn’t trust him before filling out forms, you wouldn’t be there.

And you’re there, so relax.

By the time you hit the chair you’ll have enough information to make the right choice between relaxed or not. That’s a good time to lay it out there.

How do you feel now?

If you have a happy place, go there. If that’s not possible, listen to your breath and say “Breathing in, breathing out.” Do that often enough and you’ll be relaxed, or bored silly. Breath in, breath out.

Talk to the doc. Tell him you’re a little nervous. Maybe more than a little.

If he’s not the right guy he’ll brush you off and get to the business at hand. No time to waste.

If he’s the right guy he’ll take a moment to reassure you you’re “doing the right thing, and here’s why…”

Baby boomer men and women need a little more comforting than anyone wants to admit. We remember when we needed it and didn’t get it and the clock ticks louder each time it happens again.

Dr. Gifford in the Portland neighborhood of Hillsdale hit all the marks. He read me like a Clive Cussler novel.

“Do I really need treatment?” I asked.

“Yes, and here’s why,” he said.

So far so good.

After the pain numbing shot Dr. Gifford could have left the room for another patient, or some administrative work. Instead he hung with me, even brought out text books showing cases similar to mine.

One moment of shared respect made all the difference. From then on it was easy to be very relaxed.

His work was exact and precise with an extra helping of kindness. What more could you ask for?

About David Gillaspie


  1. Nancy Lewis Swendsen says:

    As a dental hygienist who loves working with people- hurray for your dentist ! Way to treat people Doctor! Be genuine. There is a person connected to those teeth and the gum tissue!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      What a great reminder, Nancy. There’s so many ways to do things that doing it right must seem like just another option to some instead of the right thing. And who would know better than you?

  2. Gary Bowen says:

    Having underwent a difficult YANKING extraction of a rear molar, between the awful deep injection designed I suppose to lessen pain, the crappin needle seemingly only going deeper as if on a fracking mission, all within my jaw heading towards the very back of my head!

    Exactly what part of that is OKAY? Now, I have lost the desire to endure the final drilling and screwing into my bone some piece of metal insert for a fake tooth to be screwed in….

    $4000 for some ream Master with a 6 foot needle believing I must be an ARCO drilling platform on the North slope!

    So far, I have chosen to remain toothless as my dentist has closed down all discussion regards to not paying heed to my groaning sounds as my legs seem to raise off the dentist chair as if by magic injection…

    i guess this makes me a cry baby!


    • David Gillaspie says:

      We’re not the first two admitted cry babies in the dental chair, Gary. Not when those guys get after it. I was ready to do the dental chair tap-out more than once, and feel the same way about a new tooth.

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