It’s surprising what a Markham vet learned from dentists… and it has nothing to do with teeth!

By October 20, 2013Uncategorized

My dentist is a wonderful man. I’m not saying this because he might read this blog, but he really is. He is efficient, friendly, remembers a lot of details about me and my family, is affordable and tells you your condition as it is.

My previous dentist, years ago, left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth (all pun intended). He recommended dental cleaning three times a year and when he noticed my hesitant look, he asked whether I had insurance, and if not twice a year would be enough. My ethics red flag started going straight up right away. Do teeth of insured patients need more dental treatments than those of non-insured individuals?

I switched to my current dentist. This doesn’t mean I like going to his office. Just a few months ago, when I was there for some minor repair work, his assistant asked me politely how I was doing today and I, half drooling with all the instruments in my mouth, said “I’m ok”. No kidding. Who in their right mind would answer from a dentist’s chair “I am feeling so wonderful today”?

I guess some of our pets feel the same way when they come to us. Just ok… Veterinarians in Markham understand. Just because something is necessary and really important for long term health doesn’t mean it has to be their favourite spot.

But I use visits to health professionals as a study.

See, I am so used to standing on the one side of the table with my white coat, stethoscope, and name tag, giving recommendations that I become completely oblivious to what it feels like on the other side (your side) of the table.

At the dentist I am in the patient’s chair. They see some staining on my teeth prompting the question:

  • “Do you drink coffee or tea?” – yeah. “Oh, that’s why your teeth aren’t as white as they could be”. Makes me feel like I am not making the best drinking choices.
  • And on it goes: “Do you floss your teeth?” – yes … sometimes. “You should do this daily at least once”.  Oops – I don’t care enough about my teeth.
  • And “How often do you brush your teeth?” – morning and evening. “Maybe you should brush them after every meal”.

At this point I feel completely guilty about not taking proper care of myself. Well, I am not perfect. Who is?

But then I can see the analogy: These questions are not intended to make me feel guilty, yet how often am I asking similar questions in the exam room with a similar effect?

Questions like: What do you feed your pet? Implying the diet isn’t good enough. Do you brush your pet’s teeth? Did you clean the ears lately? How often do you take her for a walk?

I know, it is impossible to do everything right, but it is very easy for a veterinarian to make recommendations that are unrealistic. Please forgive me if I come across like my dentist. It is not meant to make anyone feel guilty and we have to adjust our expectations from perfectionism to realism.

Dr. Marsig and the CareTeam

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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