Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dent in My Day

My dentist isn't involved in this whole jaw surgery ordeal, even though her office also does braces. A friend of mine had recommended her ortho and oral surgeon to me, so that's who I went with. When I told my dentist about my plans to undergo jaw surgery, about a year and half ago, she said - "Oh I noticed your bite is off, but I didn't want to say anything 'cause it'd require surgery. The only surgeon I know that's really good lives in Texas. I don't know any oral surgeons here so I can't recommend anyone to my patients." She took some "before" pictures of my face - front view, profile, and smile - so that she could compare and see the difference when I'm done. If the results were good, she said, she'd recommend Dr. Li to her other patients who might need similar surgery.

Fastforward 18 months. I had my dental exam this afternoon. Saw my dentist for the first time since the surgery. I congratulated her on her new baby girl, flashed a smile, and said - "So, are you gonna recommend Dr. Li?"

"Oh....", she paused, "honestly, I think you'd have better results if you went to that surgeon in Texas. He would've made it perfect. Right now you still show some gum when you smile big." (See a photo here)

"Oh, that. Dr. Li had told me that he couldn't make the gum disappear completely when I smile. If he had shortened my upper jaw even further, it'd widen my nose too much. Plus, when your lips are relaxed, the bottom of your upper front teeth is suppposed to peek out just a little. If he had cut out more gumline, my front teeth would've completely disappeared behind the upper lip and I'd end up looking like an old lady. It's all about striking the right facial balance, right?"

"Still, the surgeon in Texas would have made it just perfect. Dr. Walford, I think, is his name. He doesn't do anything by the book and he's brilliant. He would've rotated both of your jaws and made them perfect."

"But Dr. Li did operate on both of my jaws. Besides, I don't mind showing a little gum when I smile big. What IS perfection anyway? It's different from person to person."

"How much did you pay for your operation? Dr. Walford in Texas charges $70,000."

"My surgeon quoted $33,600."

"Ah. Dr. Walford would've made it perfect. He's really famous and well-known, and he's expensive."

"Well," I sought ways to fight back without being rude, "I'm not gonna fly to Texas, and I'm not paying anyone $70,000 for this. By the way, Dr. Li is world-renowned, too. He's top-notch."

She started to say something else, but quick, I beat her to it: "Hey, you don't have to recommend him and you don't have to like the results," I kept a smile on my face, even though, yes, of course I was annoyed. "After all, I'm the one that has to live with it, and I really like it." Then I turned and winked at her assistant, who looked completely mortified.

I'd like to think I have an open mind and can take different opinions. But, I suspect it's insensitive of her to say that I should've gone to some surgeon in Texas when all has been said and done. Obviously there's nothing I can do now, even if the Texan were better than Dr. Li - which I highly doubt.

Bottom line: I'm happy with the results. I can chew properly now and cut noodles with my front teeth. Plus, in my opinion, my face looks more proportionate. Who cares what she thinks, right?

But it still made a dent in my day.


Charles said...

I think she was really rude and you were really paient!

Brandyleigh35 said...

What a Bee-atch! OMG how freakin rude can someone get? Crazy, good for you for keeping your wits about you, and like you said, you are the one that has to live with it and you are happy.

I can't believe that she would continue to pursue the discussion after you explained what Dr. Li did for you and why? and $70,000 for a surgery. That is insane! Clearly this lady has issues, however, do be aware that you were right on about perfection. Actually perfection does not exist, it is an illusion. Her making a comment about how Dr. whatever his name is would've made you perfect just goes to show that she really has no clue about what true beauty really is.

Personally I think you look amazing, and that Dr. Li's work is nothing short of spectacular. Don't let someone who is clearly just a shallow witch, put a dent in your day. She doesn't deserve the space in your head! :)


Bill said...

Wow, just ... wow. As long as you are happy with the results then who cares what other people think? That's my philosophy.

I think you handled the whole situation just fine. Like you, I try to take these types of comments in stride because it's possible she didn't realize how insensitive her comments were.

If it was me, at the end of the dental exam I would have asked her if she knew any good Dentists in the area because, you know, I wanted to have the "Perfect" dental exam and cleanings ... whatever the cost. :)

Mary said...

Hey Kristin, I love how you handled yourself especially the wink to the assistant, what class you have! People are strange. Antagonistic by nature, some people just have to be right and dig in at all expense. She was probably mortified later (or should have been). There's a guy in my office today who asked me about my surgery and is thinking about havingit. He has an underbite like you and so I told him to look at your blog. He's going to wait a few years before starting (he's 26 now) and he said that he would like to go to Dr. Li. So, there's a referal! Mary

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how your surgery could have produced a better result! Not that I'm an expert but I think you look great and all the extra $$$ spent on the other surgeon would have been pretty pointless. I love reading your blog, it's one of the most readable ones I've come across, I found it when looking for info on this type of surgery as I have an underbite that I would like to get corrected but I am so so so SO scared about the op! Anyway congratulations on your progress and your blog is always informative or fun to read (and I never read blogs!)

Graham said...

Unbelievable! Some people need a serious smack! Good for you on being graceful and mindful about it. You definitely have nothing to worry about, you look fantastic and I'm so glad you feel that way too. And I have to agree that your blog is top notch! There is just something so very pleasing about your writing style.

Mrs. Shanton said...

Annoyed? I would have cried. You look awesome. Your dentist is miffed because you didn't use her for braces, and she's attempting to relieve herself of a self-esteem problem in a very immature and self-centered way. You need a new dentist. You're SUPPOSED to have gum showing when you smile, or, yes, as you mentioned, you'd look really old and you're too young for that. What an insecure bitch she is.

Haley said...

WTH? How unprofessional is this behavior? She's no specialist, what does she know about the details of oral surgery? I think maybe your dentist has a crush on this Texas surgeon or something, and she's just being critical of others work because it isn't her Texas guy's work.I think your smile looks great. And the post-op x-ray that you posted a couple of entries down looks incredible compared to the pre-op one.

Kristen said...

Thanks so much for the support, folks! People are entitled to their opinions - and I'm entitled to a switch. Switching to a new dentist, that is.

I feel extremely grateful that everything has gone according to plan so far - the braces to date, and the surgery. Couldn't have asked for better. :)

Mary - Thanks for sharing my blog with your colleague. He can read more about Dr. Li at http://www.drkaseyli.com/. Best of luck!

Ruby, Graham - Thanks for the encouragement. I signed up for a membership at http://www.helium.com/ yesterday. It's a site where you can write about any subject they specify, rate each other's articles, and somehow get paid (haven't figured out how that part works yet). So far I've only written two articles, but plan to do more soon. :)

chinderella said...

Pah. You look amazing, Kristen.
Sounds like this ex-dentist of yours has issues all right - 'and my surgeon-in-texas-is-better-than-yours, she sounds like a 5 year old really. You handled it well. I would have lost my cool.