I never thought I’d be celebrating a dentist. I have a long, sordid history with dentists. From the hygienists I met who felt like they had to excavate in order to do a cleaning, to the doctor who pinched my cheek to make shots more tolerable (and giving me whiplash in the process) I’ve never had good experiences with dentists.
In fact, the last dentist I had had left me so traumatized that I swore I’d never go to another dentist again, that all of my teeth could rot from my head before I’d step foot in another dental office again. I’d had a crown that had come off, and I went in at their first available appointment to have it put back on again.
Apparently it had not been sealed, and I spent about three hours in the chair having bits o’ teeth being picked out of my jaw.
Bits o’ teeth.
I also have a complicated relationship with novacaine, something that, while evident before, became excruciatingly so as I had bits o’ teeth dug from my gums.
Novacaine and I go way back. We have history.
Novacaine is like Lucy with a football. You’re numb. You’re numb. Sure you’re numb. Oh, wait, not really.
Once, it wore off during a root canal a good five minutes before he killed the nerve. I’m pretty sure he had to use that curvy pokey thing to extract me from the ceiling.
Another time, I simply could not get numb. He gave me two shots at a time, spaced out about 15 or so minutes between sets, until I had been given the maximum number. Four? Six? I can’t remember. I couldn’t get numb. I didn’t even get a pre-numb tingle.
“Nancy,” he said, “we’re going to have to try this another time.”
So he sent me home, where I promptly fell asleep only to awake a couple of hours with an entirely numb face.
So yeah, I had a complicated relationship with novacaine and a very uncomplicated one with dentists. I hated them. After the bits-o’-teeth debacle, I swore I’d never go again.
But then I had an emergency, and someone at work told me about Dr. Jones.
She has tiny hands. Professionals in oral care are the only people who have ever said I have a small mouth, and so small hands are always a plus. She’s a slight woman, a woman who kind of appears at your chair-side between blinks with a low greeting and a getting-down-to-business manner.
She diagnosed the problem, gave me an accurate pricing (unheard of in my experience!) and took care of the problem.
Virtually pain free.
When I was referred to a specialist to get a procedure done, the specialist instructed me to “clear it with my dentist.” I had only been seeing her for a few months, if that, and she saw me immediately, without an appointment, and probably spent about 30 minutes with me with an obviously full schedule. She explained to me that it wasn’t the best choice and why. She then called the specialist.
“Now, Bob*,” she said, her voice incredibly soft, “if this were your daughter, would you tell her to have this procedure?”
I’m pretty sure that, even if I had been able to move my jaw, I wouldn’t have been able to pick it up off the floor. The answer was no, incidentally, and they worked together to find another solution.
I just saw her this week, and, for the first time in my life EVER, I was given a shot that I didn’t feel. Not kinda-sorta didn’t feel, but literally didn’t feel. Literally in the literal meaning of literally.
I had lost her number; when I was googling it, I found patient comments. “She’s the shot whisperer,” someone said. That ain’t no bull.
Dr. Theresa Jones and her practice are magnificent. Her office is like a spa; her hygienists must have completed some sort of post-graduate work in subtlety and gentleness. The hand masseuse on duty is psychic: just as the hygienist begins the pokey-this-might-hurt part, in she swoops with her lotion and her hot wax, and her soothing distracting conversation.
I have no idea how she manages the patient load that she does. Her office always looks full, and yet, I’ve never been left waiting past my appointment time OR in the chair.
She seems to include in her scope of practice a philosophy that, if you make the visit as comfortable and inviting as possible, people will actually come to their dental cleanings and get their teeth taken care of.
What a phenomenal concept.
And she’s not afraid of referring out if it’s beyond her scope. She is very, very, very good at what she does, but that’s because what she does is limited in that she doesn’t try to do everything. Rather than performing a procedure that would no doubt be profitable, she refers it out to an expert so that she can focus on her own mastery.
When I think of the word magnificent, I think of a sunrise, an eagle, a piece of literature or a musical performance. I never thought I’d apply it to a dental practice.
But Dr. Jones and the practice that she has created, are nothing short of magnificent.
She is in Gulfport, Mississippi, and I’m so grateful to be a part of the community that she serves.
You can check out her website here.
1. [Bob is not his real name]