The Joy of Being a Dentist
Recently, a woman came to my office and asked to speak to me. When I met her, I thought that her face was familiar but I could not recall who she was. She took my hand sincerely and told me that she was the daughter of one of my patients who I had seen in my office a week earlier. No wonder I saw the resemblance.
She told me that her mother had passed away peacefully a few days after I had seen her. She was 92.
I immediately burst into tears.
Her name was Santina and she was my very first patient when I started my new practice In Canada in 1994. In 15 years, Santina came to my office religiously every 6 months for a regular check-up and cleaning. She never missed a visit.
Her daughter wanted to come in and thank me in person. She told me that up to her passing, Santina was happy and proud of her healthy teeth and that it had helped her live a quality life. It was Santina’s love of life and her total trust that made me enjoy being her dentist and helping people like her. She valued herself and put time and resources into her teeth.
I remember when she was 80, she asked me if I could restore her missing molar on one side. Honestly, there was a split second when I wondered if it would really be worth it to restore the only missing tooth in a person her age. But my conscience told me that I was not the one to judge whether it’s worth it or not for another person.
Santina had been very positive in her outlook on life and always gave her signature smile. To her this procedure was important. I told her it was possible for her to receive a fixed bridge which would restore her bite and chewing function on both sides. She later told me that the bridge was so comfortable that she felt that it was a part of her mouth. The bridge served her well for 12 years before her last day on earth.
The appreciation of the care I had given to Santina over 15 years brought her daughter and son-in-law to become my patients after that day. I attended Santina’s funeral, paying tribute to my very first patient in Canada, promising that I will continue to do what I have been doing all along, to give my best and to take care of every patient who treasures their teeth. To me, Santina’s example shows me that everyone deserves a healthy set of teeth for their whole life.
- Dr. Shirley Cheong