92 – The Appointment Manager

Hi and welcome or welcome back to The Perio Patient Podcast a podcast for my patients and anyone else who cares to listen. My name is Dr. Ben Young and you might be patient of mine. If you are, then you know who I am and what I do, but for everyone else, I am a periodontist in private practice in the beautiful city of San Antonio and in the great state of Texas. I’m not a native Texan, but I got here as soon as I could. 

If this is your first episode, you have jumped in on number 92, which means there is a lot preceding this one you might want to check out. It’s easy. Go to my website and click on different tabs there. Under different topics you might find one or many podcasts that deal with that subject. 

My focus in this podcast is periodontal disease and management and this is because for many of you I will see you only a brief time and then you will return to the good dental family that referred you. Or if you came to me directly, not having a good dental family, I am happy to help you locate someone working close to your normal traffic patterns wherever in South Texas that happens to be. 

Today’s title is The Appointment Manager. That, in this scenario, is you. I discussed this in my video, A Tooth Has Four Parts, which explains periodontal disease as well as your two jobs and my two jobs. If you haven’t seen it and you have any gum problems or concerns, you might check it out. It is on the home page and is a YouTube video. If you search my name you will find it I’m sure. It’s 15 minutes long. 

So I have picked the subject Appointment Management because it is the difference, frankly, in some scenarios between life and death; health and disease.  

Well that seems a bit extreme, don’t you think Dr. Young?  

Unfortunately, not in today’s world.  

We are living in unprecedented times and sadly, in many ways, for most of us it began with the pandemic followed by the shut down to flatten the curve. I don’t have to go into all of this for anyone. We have and still are living through this. 

With regards to healthcare, as I have stressed my entire career to those who I have had the honor to treat, it is critical for you to take responsibility for your health as well as that of children under your care. No authority, no expert, including me, should tell you what you must do. You are an autonomous human being living under the Constitution that informs you of your inalienable rights. These cannot be usurped legally. Illegally, sure they can. You can also give them to others. That is your right also. Which means you can be tricked or coerced into signing your rights away. It happens all the time.  

For example. If someone says to me. I will let you do only what my insurance will pay for – well they have signed away their rights. They are giving permission for non-medical entities to dictate the level of medicine or dentistry they will have. The problem is, the insurance company is not interested in your health. They never have been. They never will be. Neither is the government. And for that matter, it may also be true with the healthcare workers you see – including me. Now let me quickly clarify what I have just said because it can be easily misunderstood. Part of your health has to do with your willingness to do the things for yourself only you can do. If you do not know what these things are, then you are not getting good healthcare. It might be that people are trying to help you, and you are not interested in receiving the help, or you might find yourself just a number waiting for you brief turn to see someone who is not interested in taking any time answering questions.  

Now both you and I relate to time pressures. I cannot give away, not just my time, but the time other patients have scheduled in order to sit with someone with a lot of questions. If you have a lot of questions, then it may be we will have to work through them in different ways. For example, listening to a podcast like this is one way I can speak to many all at once and not do it when it is inconvenient to anyone. When someone is interested, they can listen. It might be years after the podcast was produced, but is still available for that purpose. The other way I handle questions and concerns from existing patients is to make available my time after the last patient has been seen. Then you and I can sit and talk without the concern we are running into someone else’s time. And there is not charge for this sort of visit by a patient of record, because I understand that sometimes the information has come to quickly and it might have been hard to absorb – or you went home and someone asked you some good questions you couldn’t answer. All fair. All important. Happy to answer questions as you need them answered.  

So what I hope for you is for you to take on the responsibility of the Appointment Manager. What does this mean? It means you make appointments because you understand what you need and you choose to do so. If you choose not to do so, that’s fine. You are the Appointment Manager. If you want to get a second or third or fourth opinion, that’s fine as well. Why? Because you have to understand everything about what it is you are accepting as care.  

It is not acceptable, for example, in my opinion, to accept injections of chemicals that promise a level of immunity that they then do not provide – and when they are given without informing of all the risks as they are currently known. I’m not going to rehash this except to say this. You are the Appointment Manager. You are responsible for your health and the health of the children under your care. Do not blindly accept what anyone tells you, even if it sounds like you will die if you do not take their advice. It might be true, but usually, if you are in a consultation, there is time to get other opinions. Avoid pressure. Take your time. Think it through and then act. Not deciding is to decide as well. There are many patients who take months, and sometimes years, to decide to go ahead with treatment. Each one of us have our circumstances and reasons, and it is my responsibility to respect your autonomy.  

Finally, just as a review, what is your other responsibility and what are my two jobs?  

Your other responsibility is – in my world – labeled as plaque control – this is the management of the bacterial colonies that are forming all the time around teeth and gums. They need to be disrupted because your immune system, your antibodies and white blood cells can be overwhelmed. Daily gentle brushing and flossing disrupt the colonies we call plaque – the sticky usually invisible film on teeth – and it is the frequency, not intensity, of this activity, that can keep you as healthy as possible between visits. But Plaque Control can be used for more than this – it is your daily routines to maintain your health. It is what you eat, how you sleep, the medications you need to take, and all the rest. It is your daily routine that either maintains you health or diminishes it – and no one can do this for you – if you are an autonomous adult.  

And my two jobs are two support, encourage, remind, and monitor your two jobs – like I am doing now and treat disease – that is do the things I am trained and licensed to do for you, that you cannot do for yourself. 

That’s it for today. You have been listening to the Perio Patient Podcast. I am still Dr. Ben Young. Thanks for listening.  

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