A Health Careers Scholarship Recipient’s Message

I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to the IOKDS scholarship committee and community for their support of myself and others as we progress through our educational journeys. Your generosity is truly appreciated and helps relieve some of the many stresses associated with the schooling necessary to work in the health care professions.

When I was initially asked to write about how I was touched by a patient experience, I was in my infancy as a dental provider. As I am now finished with my second semester in the clinic, I would love to share an experience I was able to have with one of my first patients. Mr. X, an elderly gentleman in his early 80’s, presented with the chief concern of “I need a new bridge”. He stated the bridge is now mobile when he chews or bites down to smile. Mr. X had most of his lower teeth remaining, however, many of his upper teeth were already missing with a few front teeth being replaced by two bridges.

Upon examination, I noticed that the bridge mentioned was in poor condition due to massive areas of decay on the natural teeth retaining the bridge. As I examined further, we discovered that his other bridge was compromised in a similar fashion and most of his other remaining upper teeth had large cavities as well. After some deliberation over the possible treatment options, Mr. X decided on extracting his remaining upper teeth and having a complete denture made. Mr. X was understandably disappointed by the healing period necessary before the denture could be made, and he was saddened that he would be without a smile for over six months.

When the healing was complete, Mr. X was ecstatic to begin the denture fabrication. He was always early to appointments and extremely willing to cooperate. At every appointment, Mr. X was joyful and appreciative of the work we conducted for him. We had many conversations about life, work, family, and faith. He revealed that he had lost his wife a few years ago shortly after he retired to spend more time with her and their grandchildren. This caused his faith in God to waiver as he felt his life had fallen apart. He then moved houses to be closer to his grandchildren which allowed him to rediscover positive outlook on life and ultimately, his faith. At our appointment, Mr. X stated that he felt a similar loss of faith after losing his upper teeth.

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However, when I delivered his denture, Mr. X’s face lit up with joy as the denture fit perfectly. He was overjoyed to have his smile back and could not wait to show it off to his grandchildren, who were not fond of his toothless smile. Mr. X’s mood appeared to change instantly, and he exclaimed that he gained a newfound outlook on life. I have since seen him for follow-up and he is still as excited about the denture as the day he received it.

My experience with Mr. X showed me the impact that I can have on patients despite being a young, developing dental practitioner. Mr. X expressed overwhelming gratitude for the work I had done which certainly brought a smile to my face. This experience taught me that the work we do in dentistry can have life-altering effects on patients and can go as far as helping them to rediscover their faith and happiness. I am grateful to have been able to have a touching experience like this so early in my career as a health care professional. It is instances like these that provide students and practitioners with confirmation that we are accomplishing our childhood goals of having a positive impact on our patient’s lives.

Sincerely,

Alex Bageris