My wife, Manisha, had never wanted to see a dentist in her life. She managed a toothache for over one year. When it became intolerable, we went to a famous dental clinic. Mom had also accompanied us. The duty doctor over there examined and declared that the tooth had to be extracted. We would need to see the dental surgeon the next day.
It was then when I recalled meeting Shujath, my classmate from school at our school’s reunion. He was a dentist practicing at Manipal hospital now. We needed help immediately, as to how long she would continue to take painkillers. So I called him and asked if I could see him that day. He asked me to drop in right away.
Mom, Manisha, and I drove there. Other patients looked on as we walked right in. She was asked to sit and the attendant adjusted the chair. The light bulb flashed over her head. He examined. A cavity had formed, causing unbearable pain in the tooth. If it was left unattended for long, she would have to sacrifice her tooth. But she almost jumped out of the chair. “I’m not ready for this now. Just give me a pain killer, and I’ll come back tomorrow.”
Shujath convinced her that the easiest way is to pull out the tooth. But he would try to save it, provided he starts treating it immediately. A pain killer will only provide temporary relief, but not freedom. There was no option. An anesthetic injection was smoothly pushed, and the first day’s work was accomplished. It was good to see her relieved from pain.
“People come to us in the end. We need to look after our teeth and see a dentist every six months. If we do this, we avoid the trauma of bleeding gums and tooth pains due to the formation of food fillings between teeth.” he explained.
After her treatment, my mom asked him to check her teeth as well. She complained of pain in her front two teeth. She was using braces that were made by her previous dentist already. An x-ray was taken and he was shocked at what he saw. Though the braces helped her to chew and eat, a root canal procedure had been left incomplete. The braces were also made of sub-standard material. Because of this, the tooth had to have retreated and the lower jaw braces had to be reconstructed.
He knew his job, and the only question he asked her, is whether she wanted temporary or removable braces or permanently fixed ones? She opted for the permanently fixed one. And after that decision, he began to treat mom for a month and a half. After every session, he allowed time to heal, and the pain to subside before moving to the next one. By the end of the first month, she was bolder and healed faster. The gentleness, the experience counted.
For some, it may seem that he was just doing his duty, but I consider this a generous act. Something that one cannot measure in terms of monetary benefits. He provided both the ladies with important gifts of time, effort, and care. It created connection and possibility.
When I think about it, I didn’t want them to undergo any discomfort. But it was miraculously smooth.
They’re happier and smile even better.
People have been generous with you through the years. Your doctor took the time to understand your pain, a boss who gave you a project that would challenge your competence, a jeweler who showed you how to keep your family jewels shining.
In my view, popular does not always mean the best. Being popular means appealing to many. In my opinion, a business whose prime focus is to delight the customer before them has built a connection. Whether we fulfill their need or a problem we solve- does it bring them to smile?
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