Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

16 Jun 2009, 14:30 p.m.

On Dentistry

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2009 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I went to the dentist last night, specifically at the NYU College of Dentistry. I actually prefer the dental school experience to many private practice dentistries. The wait in the waiting room is shorter (2 hours per appointment actually spent in the chair, rather than an hour in intermittent waiting plus an hour in the chair), I get treated by eager-to-learn dentists in training rather than bored, laconic hygienists, and the student dentists are thorough and communicative. And they offer a 6pm-8pm slot. Very few private practices do.

Young student dentist Stringer was the one to phone me up to set up an appointment. He was more deft, gentle, and patient than several DDSes I've patronized. "Oh, you build up a lot of calculus here, because of your salivary gland. I have that too," he confided. He checked in with me about whether the ultrasonic cleaning dealie was running too hot and hurting me. "I don't like to use it, I don't think it's gentle enough," he said. He handed me the suction wand: "Raise your hand if you need me to stop so you can suction."

In further stereotype-demolishing, Stringer does not play World of Warcraft (nor does he wear Ira Glass glasses). My cousin-in-law-in-law Aaron, husband of Kristen, is on the road to full Dentistdom and enjoys WoW-style games. [pun about grinding omitted]

I told Stringer what his last name means in journalism; in retrospect, he has a new occupational surname, like Smith or Cooper.

I get curious about others' occupations. Firefighters, CAD designers, directors, transcriptionists, silversmiths, pastors, teachers, full-time caretakers, taxi drivers, deli owners, X-ray technicians, soldiers, construction workers, dentists. How does doing your job change the way you interact with others?


16 Jun 2009, 22:06 p.m.

The NYU Dental school is fantastic. I have Leonard to thank for mentioning it; I never would have thought to go there otherwise, uninsured as I am. Both K. and I have had several amazingly untraumatic experiences there. And even the traumatic ones would have been worse somewhere else.

17 Jun 2009, 22:22 p.m.

That's cool that you went to the school. It really helps the students out. Some classmates almost flunked from appointment cancellations and not getting enough cases. We paid $400 to the patients that Aaron worked on for his licensure exam just to make sure they were going to be there.

Aaron is obsessed with WoW but I did not know it was a hobby of other dentists. Not a lot of his friends in his year were into it...I wondered where that came from?

23 Jun 2009, 15:14 p.m.

Appointments with our last dentist would last a couple of hours and they would bring out all sorts of gadgets. They would even take our blood pressure. But they did a really good job cleaning and were quite thorough. Andy didn't like the length of the appointments. We had to change dentists this year because my company changed the dental plan. Our current dentist has digital xrays and they found about 10 cavities in my mouth - they kept changing the contrast to find the dark spots - and the same in Andy's mouth. But they did a very poor cleaning. Oh well. Andy wants us to find an old dentist who doesn't have a lot of technology.