Dr. Dennis Hartlieb: You know, and I had to dig really deep for mine because it was very superficial. You help me work through this.
Ultimately, I realized my reason for doing dentistry, my “why”, is about dignity. I grew up with parents who had really poor dental health. I would watch them not be able to have comfortable partial dentures and be very self-conscious. I saw when my mom was treated by one of my professors at a dental school, and it was almost like she became this better version of herself.
Then, as I dug deep into it, I realized my other “why” is about giving. Giving people dignity. People can be who they truly are inside. And where I really felt this is when I treat teenagers, a patient group that I never thought I would ever want to treat. However, I do a lot of cosmetic work on kids who have peg laterals, missing laterals, and malformed teeth. And boy, we've seen how people have changed when they have a smile they are comfortable and proud of. I think deep down, it's about dignity because they can go out and they can smile. They can be themselves. They don't have to hide their face or hide their mouth when they're talking and laughing.
It took me a long time to dig down that deep and then and had to pull off these layers. But it helps so much.
I often have to remember to take myself out of the equation. Maybe their dignity is just about filling in a space and their dignity is not about how the teeth look. Maybe their parents lost their teeth. Maybe they don’t really care about how it looks. But to them, their dignity is that they have that tooth replaced. That was an issue for their parents, and I need to take my objectives out of it and understand that dignity for other people is different. It could be cosmetic, but it could be functional, or it could be some other thing that I may not completely understand. However, I can understand It's making them fulfilled and making them have the dignity that they desire. So, that helps me when I when I'm wrestling with treatment that patient wants that may not be along the lines of what I was thinking.