Not Everyone Hates The Dentist

Foothill DentalMy dad is a dentist.

His older brother was as well. So was my grandfather. I broke the family tradition. I knew pretty early on that I would not be a dentist when I cringed at the sight of blood.

I’m not sure if it’s my family history or something else, but unlike most people, I do not hate the dentist. In fact, I kinda like going there. I have to admit, I feel a bit like a traitor every time I go to a dentist whose name is not Dr. Waldow, but often I don’t have a choice.

The Chip

Last week I chipped my tooth. I freaked out a bit. Out of instinct, I called my dad who was in Rochester, NY at the time. My dad’s reaction was pretty simple. He told me it was not a big deal, welcome to “getting older,” and to get it fixed in the next few days. He’s my dad (and a dentist), so I listened to his words. Being new to the area, my wife and I did not yet have a dentist. With her help, we scrambled to find a local dentist. My criteria was simple:

  • Proximity: The office needed to be close to our house.
  • Local: The practice could not be some big dental chain or anything. “In the family” was a plus.
  • Timeliness: I had to be able to get an appointment for that week or the deal was off.
  • Gut: My “instincts” had to tell me it was  good place (think: initial conversation).

**Update (11/05/09): My wife finally read my blog! Yeah! Yeah! A couple of clarifications. I may have exaggerated a little on the 4 points above. She actually called me and suggested Dr. Stohl’s office based on the first 3 bullets. I still had a good feeling after my initial conversation with Britnie.

Foothill Dental

The first office I called, Dr. Stohl, met all 4 criteria. A lovely woman named Britnie answered the phone and immediately treated me like a human being (a friend?) instead of a patient or $$. I told her that my wife and I had recently moved from North Carolina and that I had chipped my tooth. 5 minutes later, I realized I had yet to make an appointment as Britnie and I were chatting away about NC and she was empathizing about my chip (she also had a chipped tooth!). It was also clear that Britnie loved her job and was a big fan of Dr. Stohl as she said, “you’ll love him.”

I immediately knew this was the place for me. I booked my appointment for later that week and tried not to use my chipped tooth for a few days.

Dr. Matt Stohl and Britnie

Dr. Matt Stohl and Britnie

From the moment I walked in the door at 7AM through my 28 minute appointment, I was treated like a friend of the family. The only somewhat awkward minute was when I asked Dr. Stohl and Britnie if I could take their picture. I explained it was for my blog and I wouldn’t do anything weird with it. They trusted me. Ha ha. K-Dawg (my wife) later told me I was odd for asking them. (But hey, she knew I was odd when she married me!)

So what made my visit to the (dreaded, oh my) dentist such a positive experience?

  • Human vs. Patient: Both Britnie and Dr. Stohl called me by my first name. Both asked me about me – how long I had lived in Salt Lake, what I did for a living, who my favorite sports teams were, etc. We chatted it up for several minutes before we even looked at my chipped tooth. After the procedure was finished, we shook hands, joked around a bit, and talked about the next visit.
  • Set Proper Expectations: Dr. Stohl told me exactly what he was going to do every step of the way. Statements like, “This may hurt a bit” and “You’re going to feel a bit of pressure for a few seconds.” Questions such as “How would you like me to rebuild this? A or B or C?” I felt at ease through the entire procedure.

Thanks Britnie and Dr. (Matt) Stohl. You guys are the best. Would it be odd to say I’m looking forward to my next appointment?

How This Experience Fits Into The Big Picture

While this post is about my experience at the (dreaded) dentist’s office, it’s not really. What I’m hoping you’ll take away from this is more about how treating people like human beings wins – every single time. Everyone wants to feel accepted, to feel like others care about them. It’s all about setting proper expectations, loving what you do, asking about others, giving more then receiving.

Think about how you – as an individual – or your company treats others. Do you make your personal/professional life an inviting place? Do people want to be around you? Do you take a possible negative experience and turn it into a positive one? If not, what the heck are you waiting for? Now’s the time.

I’d love to hear about your positive experiences. Please tell me what you think (below). Or…call/IM/tweet/email/fax/stop by in person.

DJ Waldow
@djwaldow

8 comments
dentist lexington ky
dentist lexington ky

Of course not everyone hates the Dentist, in fact, lots of people loves them because they fix their teeth. I just hope that the children won't run away from them.

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Hey Jeff: Thanks for stopping by...reading and commenting. I really appreciate it. Who says this blog is about nothing? Gosh. I hope not! My email address is on my twitter profile: http://twitter.com/djwaldow

DJ Waldow@djwaldow

Jeff Ginsberg
Jeff Ginsberg

This is a great blog!!!

I kind of want to say it's about nothing...but it's not.

It's about how day to day interactions impact and are interpreted. You have a nice way of pointing out the good, the great and the not so good (in your moms case with Time Warner).

As for being afraid of the dentist. I got over my fears long ago but reading this post made me think of one of my kids favorite books.

Dora goes to the dentist

I'm thinking sequel, DJ Waldo goes to the dentist too.

PS...I can remember when i chipped my first tooth. Summer when I was 20 eating Good and Plenty candies. Haven't had once since :o(

BTW...the whole point of my being here is because I wanted to respond to your tweet but I needed more than 140 characters. For some reason I can't find an email address on any of your sites or profiles. Does this mean that email is dead and social platforms are the only way to communicate? (sorry for bringing work to your sandbox)

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

@Suzanna - Hey! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I'm digging your blog too. Check out the comments below yours. Britnie's dad chimed in. I mean...that's what it's all about, right?

@Krista - Seriously worth looking into. Pretty sure there is some referral $$ coming my way. Ha ha (no really).

@John - You have made my day, my week, my month! Comments like yours are the reason I continue to blog. I'm thrilled that I was able to put a smile on your face. Kudos to you and your wife for raising an incredible daughter...and to Dr. Stohl for recognizing her strengths and hiring her!

DJ Waldow@djwaldow

John Arens
John Arens

Dear DJ Waldow,
I want to thank you for the wonderful comments about Foothill Dental. My daughter is Britnie. We have been extremely blessed to have a wonderful daughter such as Britnie. Over the years she has been an example to us in many areas of life, this just adds another one. I cannot express the gratitude my wife and I have for your kind words and time taken out of your life to uplift someone else.
Regards, Britnie’s Dad

krista Parry
krista Parry

For just moving to the area, your post just might have convinced a long-timer to switch dentists. Her I come Dr. Stohl and Britnie

Suzanne Vara
Suzanne Vara

Love this post. Not only because you got your tooth fixed but how an dentist's office is getting it right. They treated you like a person and not an insurance billing sheet having no idea that you were going to give them unbelievable exposure. They did not care that you were going to blog the experience, they cared more about making you feel comfortable.

Kudos to Dr. Stohl and Britnie.