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Shamed and Humiliated By Dentist I thought I Could Trust



Junior member
Sep 28, 2013

I'm posting because I'm still very depressed after a new dentist, highly recommended, and whom I seen about multiple issues, blurted out: "Your mouth is a mess!" during an exam. I'm reeling from this comment. I'd gone to see him because his partner (another dentist in the practice) had installed 2 permanent crowns on upper back molars, and my bite was off and causing neck and shoulder pain. And I'd seen him earlier in the summer and he'd kind of saved the day.

The dentist who made the comment, whom I'll call Tom, was the dentist I was originally supposed to see for the crowns. An oral surgeon, I adore, had recommended him, as had an endodontist I highly respect. Other dentists I'd seen during the summer had said he was the best. I'd had pain in the area of the crowns for several months, and 3 separate dentists: an general dentist, a periodontist, and the endodontist had looked at the 2 teeth ( that eventually got crowns) and had seen nothing. It was only after Tom looked at the same xrays the others had seen, that the 2 teeth were properly diagnosed with significant decay. Tom had pinpointed the pain I was having in those 2 teeth.

Based on Tom's recommendation I went back to my endodontist, eventually got a root canal for 1 of the decayed teeth, and had 2 sedative fillings put on the teeth (by the endodontist not Tom, the dentist);and more or less, spent the entire summer trying to persuade different endodontists that I needed the root canal (which it turns out I did.) Neither Tom nor his partner had appointments for me to see them for either the sedative fillings or the temporary crowns.

So, I'd been dealing with this whole root canal issue, and Tom, the dentist and his partner were getting regular updates from the endodontists about all this. I only finally got to see Tom, and then Bob for the crowns in September. And Bob did the crown work because Tom was unavailable due to what I was told was a family emergency. I was reluctant to have Bob the work because Tom was referred to as the "superstar" and he'd diagnosed the 2 huge cavities that no one else had seen.

Also, I should say that when I first saw Tom in July for the initial consultation, I told him that the other dentist that I had seen for the pain in my mouth, had referred me to a prosthedontist because of all the crowding in my mouth, as well as my severe overbite. At that time Tom was reassuring and said that he could help me, and that I didn't need to see a prosthedontist.

So, now I'm seeing him 2 months later, complaining about the crowns not feeling right, and when I told him that Bob had ground the canine tooth while prepping for the crowns, and it seemed to create an imbalance in my bite, that's when the superstar, Tom, said well, it's because your mouth is a mess.

I'm stunned that any dentist would say such a hurtful thing to any patient, But after all the concerns I expressesed about needing possibly partials or major reconstruction, and being told I didn't by this guy. To have him be this cruel. Wouldn't an empathetic person know how much shame that would cause someone with the complex dental problems I have?

I'm wondering if others have experienced this kind of Jekyll/Hyde behavior from dentists. How they coped with this kind of remark? And if I should say something to the staff and the other partner, Bob, about this treatment. (I already reported it to my endodontist but because he thinks this guy Tom is a superstar, he just said I should stay with him because Tom is "an excellent dentist".)

I know I won't EVER see this guy Tom again. But because I'm still having problems with the 2 crowns put in by Bob, I'll be seeing Bob next to make some adjustments.

Thanks for your support. This is a little rambling but I hope it makes sense...so much has happened these last four months.
Dentists have bad days just like the rest of us. That sounds to me like a slip of the tongue - shouldn't happen but everyone's human.
Hi seeif :welcome:,

my best guess would be that the comment was made in an absent-minded way and that it referred to your mouth as a complex "engineering issue" ("Tom" being concerned with getting the bite right).

However, in my opinion the comment was inappropriate and unprofessional - you as a patient would of course interpret the comment as a criticism, and "Tom" should have been aware of this.

Rather than complain about it to staff or other dentists, I think the best course of action would be to send a letter to him personally, explaining how the comment made you feel. I would think he'll feel quite sheepish when he realises what an effect his words had on you, and he will avoid making similar statements in front of other patients in the future.

Wishing you the best of luck with whatever you decide to do, and with the rest of your treatment :clover::clover::clover:
I used to use email to communicate with dentists. This one staff member at a good dental clinic always used CAPPS when emailing so it seemed like I was being constantly yelled at for my dental fear.

I did what others here have suggested, write that person a note/email.

The staff lady in my case apologized. People are human and have bad days and make mistakes cuz we're all human -- even if they are also a "dental superhero"

try try it please.
I'm wondering if others have experienced this kind of Jekyll/Hyde behavior from dentists.

I don't necessarily know if I'd call it "Jekyll/Hyde behavior". All human beings are prone to saying things without thinking them through 100%. When I went in for the first cleaning/exam with my new dentist (we switched after having shotty work done by a previous dentist), he said a similar comment - something along the lines of "Wow. This is a lot of dental work. Your mouth is a mess", or something to that effect. As anxiety-inducing as I know dental appointments can be to someone with panic disorder or a dental phobia, it is the anxiety telling you that "Tom" meant anything by that comment. Sure, he should have thought through what he said before he said it - but you know the old saying, to Err is human.

Like the others said, if you are really affected by what he said, you could always write a letter or do some sort of call or perhaps even let him know in person that you found his statement to be inappropriate. Much like a little kid who swears because they don't know better, this dentist will more likely than not apologize for causing you so much distress.
When I first went for a checkup with my new dentist a few weeks ago he did the exam, and then said "a lot of things need done. Q lot." He then paused, considering the x ray. He had no idea that this made me struggle not to panic that he was about to remove all my teeth.
He had no way of knowing how I would feel because if I can't always predict what will freak me out, how can anyone else? I think that as super dentally anxious people we need to accept that some things will be heard wrongly by us. It's not our fault, but it's not the dentist's either.

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