The day was off to a great start already… a letter in the mail from the insurance people telling me I had to find a new, approved dentist who was ‘in the plan’. I had a dentist I liked and had been with him for about three years. Muttering unflattering comments under my breath about insurance, I began to try to connect with dentists. I started calling dentists whose names didn’t sound too painful, but that was only the first step in the game. If I called and got an automated answering service, I hung up immediately. After all, I was doing this on my lunch break in the middle of the day. If potential dentists were unwilling to let me speak to a real person mid-day through the week, what were the odds I would get to a person in an emergency situation? I reasoned.
Finally, on the fourth dentist I called, the phone was answered by a real person, who was pleasant and willing to schedule me later in the week for an initial exam. That was a surprise, too — I expected I’d be scheduled months out!
With some trepidation, I made my way to the appointment. The waiting room was clearly geared toward the needs of patients, with not only current magazines, but a flat-screen TV and a computer to check email. I didn’t have time to use any of that, though, as I was ushered to the chair right after I finished my paperwork. The technical assistant introduced herself and, standard procedure, she explained, offered me a bit of mouthwash — nice! I don’t like people poking around in my mouth and there is always the fear that I will have some random halitosis that day they have to deal with. She took pictures of my teeth and then Dr. Halsema came in to continue the exam. She immediately struck me as a competent and caring person — and she didn’t try to make me talk when my mouth was full of dental equipment (a pet peeve of mine). She did indeed spot the cavity my previous dentist had merely put on a watch and explained why we needed to fill it sooner instead of later. She also told me she could fix the chip in my front tooth if it was a self-esteem issue for me — my previous dentist had never even addressed it! We discussed types of filling material (I never knew there was more than one), and she gave me an extremely thorough examination for oral cancer, using a tool I had not seen before at any dentist’s office.
At my next appointment, they showed me the pictures of my teeth and my root system on the computer — apparently, I have fused roots, not abnormal but neither very common — and again, no other dentist was ever willing to take the time to tell or show me this. And I think this is what I like best about Dr. Halsema and her staff — because of their caring, competency and use of the newest dental equipment and procedures, and willingness to share their knowledge, I’ve learned more about my teeth in two visits than I’d accumulated over the first 33 years of my life. And it didn’t hurt at all!