The Great Divide

Orthodontic Tips August 22, 2011

Sometimes I see things so clearly that I can taste it.

How come patients don’t always see it the same way?

This week a woman in her early 20’s came for her annual check of her TMJ splints.

“How is it going?” I asked innocently.

“Great!” was the answer. “No more headaches; but I don’t wear the mouth pieces as much as I should.”

“Oh” was my non-committal response as I started to look for objective signs of TMJ dysfunction.

I put my fingers gently on her jaw joints and asked her to open and close. I felt the joints snap with tension like mini firecrackers under my fingertips. Silently I wondered “How could she think this is good?”

That is a snapshot of the “Great Divide” between therapist and patient.

How does a doctor motivate a patient to wear their TMJ splints, do more exercise, eat properly, sleep more, stress less, or any of a thousand things that can “improve their life”?

Maybe that is the key. The patient doesn’t see it as improving their life. The patient is always looking in the other direction when the train hits.

I tried to “blow the whistle” to warn her of what was coming down the track as best as I could. I talked about her need to wear the splints every single night even if she was feeling fine. I tried to draw a picture for her to tell her that she was a person with a special need that someone else didn’t have.

We parted with an appointment for next year to check on her progress.

I’d like to think that I helped. I know that I want to be of service, but maybe, I don’t have it as clear as I thought.

That’s all I’ve got to say about that!

Have a great week.

Stan

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