Contribution

How to contribute to other people? Being helpful to others is worthwhile for living. They say three forth of people hate their jobs. Luckily, I love my work. As a dentist, treatments for patients are contributions themselves. Clocks are ticking and my days as a dentist are numbered. That’s what I am thinking after birthday of 60.

I have been working at the biggest business town in Tokyo. Because of Corvid 19, the number of patients has decreased to 70 percent. Business person are working at home, not at office. They come to their office only once or twice a month. They changed their dentist near their home instead of coming here.

But I have a few patients who watched my clinical case reports and read my blogs and wanted my skills, saying “I want my devastated teeth fixed like your cases in the homepage”. That’s my big motivation to work. They come from countryside by train, contrary to the office workers around here. Consequently, I have lots of time for them, enough explanation, treatment planning, and of course treatments themselves.

A female patient came and rejected surgery which I proposed, at first. But, she gradually changed her mind and accepted my proposal through many time’s conversation. She will have the best quality of functional chewing by the surgery, I believe.

I am not sure what the future holds for me. However, I will keep learning and control what I can control, not focusing on uncontrollable things such as the coronavirus and the number of patients. Be patient for patients.

before and now

before and now
pink arrow indicates missing teeth area which needs sinus lift before implants

before and now

during sinus lift

before and just after sinus lift

Helped by system 2

According to the international bestseller “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kshneman, psychologists have been interested in the two modes of thinking evoked by multiplication problem. The two systems in the mind are referred to System 1 and System 2. System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.

When I have a new patient, I sometimes am trapped by the first impression to him or her. And I judge character of the patient and decide if I will treat only the part he pointed, ignore other problems, and finish ASAP, or make a treatment plan of whole mouth after solving his initial chief complaint.

A guy, aging nearly 70, came to my clinic, showing a grimace with pain. He said he went to a dental college hospital because of an acute pain in his lower front tooth. The pain didn’t subside after the hospital’s treatment. By his wife’s introduction, he decided to come here. After all, the problematic tooth causing his pain was not one treated in the hospital. I treated a neighboring tooth which had pus at the edge of root. After the root canal treatment, eventually the pain subsided. He looked like a fastidious guy and my intuition, namely my system 1, worked dominantly in my mind, made me think I should finish and will not do further treatment to avoid emotional trouble.

But, a dental hygienist who is experienced and competent looked at his memo pad filled with lots of schedules, when she made his next appointment after the first visit. She told me that he must be a household name and I should research Wikipedia. She was right. My system 2 began to work and found that he worked in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, engaged in Scandinavian, became a professor of a private university, is an author of international relationship books, and is working as a commentator in TV news program.

After the root canal treatment and subsequent erase of the pain, he showed trust and asked full mouth treatment, and accepted my treatment plan which includes sinus lift, implants, and prosthesis for natural teeth, as you can see photos and X-ray. He was impressed and satisfied to see the before and after photos.

If I had not had the dental hygienist’s attentiveness, I would have missed a chance of full mouth reconstruction which inspires my imagination and creativity. Without her precious advice, I couldn’t have got the successful case.

The problem is when I must activate my system 2 in decision making, avoiding bias caused by system 1. I’m going to study psychology more to solve the problem, to make a better decision.