The happiest dental patient

Editor's note: Dr. Doniger's column, Dental Diaries, appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

Seriously -- when was the last time you had a beaming, happy dental patient? I am not talking about the one who just completed a long course in orthodontics or many months of full-mouth reconstruction. I am talking about a patient who, after a 15-minute appointment, was actually so happy and excited that her happiness was contagious throughout the whole office.

We had that patient just this week.

Let's start from the beginning. Several years ago, I met a woman from Sweden at a dental meeting. Her name was Lotta, and she owned a company called Twindent. Her product, which she was newly introducing to the U.S., was a tooth gem (crystal) that adheres to the tooth via bonding.

Apparently, it was (and still is) all the rage in Europe. Folks like these adornments. Unlike the grills that are ubiquitous in music videos, her products are simple, small crystals, colored or clear. Others took the form of small gold objects (flowers, stars, etc.), with or without a crystal.

I look at these products as "tooth tattoos" that are easily placed and, more important, easily removed (as opposed to other bodily adornments that are more permanent). The crystals come in a variety of colors (we decided to go with clear). The process of attachment is similar to orthodontic bands. Simple etching and bonding is all that it takes. I have seen them placed on laterals, cuspids, and the mesial line angles of molars (usually the laterals have the best longevity). If and when a patient decides that she or he has had enough of the "look," the crystal can be easily separated from the tooth.

(As an aside, I recently received a brochure from Patterson, which now has a line of similar products, including actual diamonds for placement. My veterinarian was in the office when the brochure arrived, and I showed her the picture. She laughed and said she could see a market for this in pet dentistry. Stranger things have happened!)

A young lady came into the office this week with a photo of her sister showing off her crystal in her class pictures. It was a purple crystal affixed to the distal facial incisal corner of the lateral incisor. According to this young woman, the printing did not do the color justice, but she had brought the photo in more to give us an idea of size and location.

We discussed the process, and I asked her where she wanted the gem placed. We agreed on the similar surface of the lateral. I bonded the gem to her tooth and she took a look. She was truly beaming. It was quick, painless, and she had exactly what she expected. Her mother was happy that she was happy. As I said, it is not often that we have such a happy dental patient leaving the office. Now she will go back to her school and talk about it with her peers. But the most salient point is that she left very happy.

Even though patients are steering away from cosmetic procedures, recently, we have had a few requests for the gems. It is not the biggest portion of our practice, but it is something we offer. Granted, the demographic for this is truly limited. Usually the patients come in with a definite expectation, and they must have parental consent if they are a minor. They also need to understand the nuances of this type of bonding.

Can something like this be utilized as a major practice builder? Probably not, but you never know where a new patient comes from. And it's absolutely a great way to brighten your day.

Sheri Doniger, D.D.S., practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefit company, and has written for several dental publications. Most recently, she was the editor of Woman Dentist Journal and Woman Dentist eJournal. You can reach her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2010

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