I had lunch today with a long time friend from my old place of employment, the oral surgery practice. I left there not long after the practice was sold to an associate who had worked for the founding doctor for a number of years.
Professionally, working in that field of dentistry fulfilled a goal that I had hoped to achieve since training way back in the late 1970’s as a dental assistant. I loved surgery, although when we were students we didn’t often have the opportunity to assist with anything too complicated. My great story from that time will always be the case of a lower wisdom tooth extraction with one of our volunteer doctors. The female patient was complaining of not being numb and the doctor repeated anesthesia a number of times during the procedure. Lower wisdom teeth can be tough to achieve anesthesia on quite often, and as a general dentist, the little tricks that an oral surgeon uses aren’t very common. I believe I was retracting the patients cheek at the time, and somehow the dentist slipped, or the patient moved, or both, and my thumb received almost a full injection of lidocaine. Worse even was the fact that the syringe was the very same one that had been in and out of her oral tissues repeatedly. My thumb was fine, I didn’t contract anything awful, but the dentist was obviously upset, apologetic, and most likely worried about repercussions for some time.
Over the years as I worked in general dentistry I looked forward to the days that we would be performing multiple extractions, although (and I feel that I can say this now as the dentist is no longer practicing) extractions and surgery in a general practice are nothing like what you encounter as a member of the dental team working in oral surgery. Since witnessing both professionally managed, competent surgeries and less than that in a general setting, I highly recommend seeking out a good oral surgeon if anything more than very simple extractions are ever recommended for yourself or anyone you like.
Anyway, it was great to see M today. She filled me in on some of the goings on at the old practice. There are a few new members, a new associate surgeon is coming on a few days at a time, and the biggest news is that a second office will be opening soon. They have been doing well since I left 2 1/2 years ago. She described a changed atmosphere as well. It sounds quite different from my experiences with the original doctor. I think perhaps I made the decision to move on at just the right time. Something tells me that it wasn’t just my arthritis that was screaming in my ear, forcing me to leave. I think those other voices I sometimes hear were hinting that the profession of dentistry, and my time within it, had reached an end.