A Lively Learning Experience
I had a patient and, unfortunately, there is nothing that I could have done. She came to the dental school as pretty much a last resort because dentistry is expensive and she came here hoping we could do something for her. We gave her temporary dentures at first. She was given to me as a patient to start her definitive dentures and as we went through the process, we just noticed that she had a really extensive medical history. All of the drugs that she took affected her xerostomia. She had so much bone resorption that there was not enough structure that was left for us to do dentures.
She bawled in my cubicle when I told her that she wasn’t going to be a case anymore. She was telling me ‘I hardly go out anymore’ because she was nervous about her teeth and self conscious about it. It was more of a psychological/social issue that she had with the dentures, but it matters. These patients want to just be normal.
The sad part was, after hearing all of this, you as the dental student have to still realize that you can’t do anything; it is out of your scope. Having to let her go was probably the hardest thing. With the technical stuff in lecture, you can learn it and refine it. But when it comes to the emotional [aspect] and talking to patients in clinic, it takes a much larger emotional toll on me talking to patients about what it is that they are going through. It is hard for me because I know that this is their last resort and I may not be able to do anything else.