During what seemed like a routine dental examination yesterday, Rodney Fairfield admitted to his dentist a number of facts from his past that he had kept hidden for years. In describing the experience, Fairfield admits, “I don’t know what came over me. We were having small chat like usual and I had to keep my mouth open and could barely make sense of what I was saying, but my dentist was listening so well and could understand every garbled word. I suddenly just felt really connected to her and had to share.”
Dr. Maria Grossman, Fairfield’s dentist, was not nearly as surprised as Fairfield about the event. “I talk to my patients while I’m working on them all the time. They speak in garbled moans and without much clarity, but after 30 years on the job, I understand every inarticulate word. This makes them feel comfortable and safe to say whatever they want,” she explains. “And there is a sense of privacy because everyone else in the office just hears grunts and moaning, or at best the sound of someone talking while someone else is holding their tongue. But, I speak patient-language, and can comfort the weary, drugged-up patients who are in pain from me attacking their teeth.”
Fairfield, who did not want to disclose the juicy information he told Dr. Grossman, said that he’s glad he told his dentist everything. “I didn’t actually have to say it, because technically I was just grunting and making sounds come out of my throat. But, we both know what I said, and it’s nice to have gotten it all off my chest.”
When asked if she ever shared the precious information that’s imparted onto her from her patients, Dr. Grossman adamantly denied it. Though she added, slyly, “Except, of course, when the information is way too juicy to keep to myself. I may share it at the local dentist hang outs just to get a conversation going. All of us who speak patient-language do!”
Dr. Grossman has been asked by a local dental university to create a course on dentist/patient relations. A huge chunk of her curriculum will focus on the deciphering of what patients are saying while being worked on. Though the course is a seminar that doesn’t begin until mid-September, there are already 200 dentist signed up and 52 more in the waiting list.