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Permanent link  Practicing what you preach

04/27/2009

Please welcome Dr. Adrian Codel, a CDS member and general dentist who practices on Chicago's north side. Today Dr. Codel reflects on whether it's important for health care professionals to "walk the walk and talk the talk" when it comes to taking care of their own health.

You've already waited 30 minutes in the waiting area and another 15 minutes in a cold treatment room and finally the physician walks in to introduce himself because you are a new patient. You first notice that your new doctor is overweight, likely borderline obese. When you shake his hand and get closer you detect the smell of cigarettes. But this doesn't matter because all that matters is that you receive the best possible care. You answer some basic health history questions during the interview and are very happy with his chair-side manner. You now feel more comfortable and crack a joke. It must have been a good one because you made him laugh. That is when you notice that the entire facial surfaces his lower anterior teeth are completely covered in calculus and you know that if it is bad on the facial, it is worse on the lingual. Do you lose confidence is his ability?

Well, this did not happen to me, but I was imagining this scenario as I was cleaning the teeth of my patient who is a physician. He met the above description. He is a great person and I am sure an excellent clinician. However, his oral health is in complete neglect. Emergency care only, rampant decay and uncontrolled periodontal disease. Not to mention his non oral conditions. I was told after he was dismissed that he complained that we made him wait 5 minutes for his scheduled procedure and threatened to leave.

So which is worse? The physician who fails to take control of his own health or the one that complains about waiting 5 minutes? Either way they may not practice what they preach. But neither do we. OK. I'll admit it, I don't floss every day.

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