"Hon, are we going over to the Noxnoys' for cocktails?"
So reminiscent of that suburban middle-class vibe of my youth. But in our office, Noxnoys aren't Dry Martini-swilling neighbors with no food out on their tables but a few nuts and crackers. Some mass-produced orangy cheese spread if we're lucky. No, Noxnoys are something very special indeed. Read on and see why.
We see new patients, of course, some of whom have significant dental needs and need relief of pain, or solutions to esthetic problems. As we work through planning and then carrying out their treatment, they experience considerable and meaningful gains as they return to the enjoyment of a beautiful smile and a healthy mouth. We have the satisfaction of performing complex and challenging procedures; of seeing them healthy for perhaps the first time in years; and yes, income for our practice is significant where patient needs are high.
But then we want them to get healthy and stay there, never spending on their dentistry that way again.
This brings me to another situation, that of our existing patients who are essentially healthy and decide upon some elective treatment. Perhaps they replace some old restoration that was done at a time when technology didn't allow the beauty of today's dentistry. Maybe they lighten their teeth. These days, more and more adults (like myself) are deciding to align their teeth with Invisalign or a referral to an orthodontist. These are also significant treatments and events in the life of a dental practice.
Then there are the patients who break my heart. Mostly older adults, they have enjoyed fine dental health for long periods of time in our practice and perhaps in other dental offices that preceeded their time here. Suddenly, they develop some acute illness. Perhaps they have a dry mouth due to medications and the aging process itself. They soothe their throat with lozenges or cough drops that contain massive amounts of sugar; they interrupt their normal oral hygiene because of time spent in hospital and rehab; they become temporarily addicted to things like ice cream, ginger ale and other sweets. In an astonishingly short time, they can wreck their dentition. You wouldn't believe how fast cavities like these can happen in people we know and have been preventing problems in for years:
As I said, these situations break my heart. They are so preventable! I never want to have to perform major non-elective treatments that could have been prevented in the first place in patients I already know and take care of. The key to understanding decay prevention in yourself and your family is here by the way:
And then there are the Noxnoys.
You see, some years ago we went to a system where our hygienists, Melissa and Maryanne, signal the need for Dr. Conover or I to examine a patient by putting up a little scrap of paper on our doorway. This avoids verbal interruptions and ensures that we will go to that patient as soon as we can, since the paper scrap waves at us insouciantly, perhaps even mockingly, from our operatory door as the minutes pass.
Maryanne took to writing "nox" for "no X-rays" that visit, and "noy" for "no yellow sheet." This "yellow sheet" is our scratch sheet where both doctor and hygienist can write notes about any sort of diagnosis or treatment need.
"Noxnoy" thus came to mean a patient who is up to date on their X-rays and has no treatment needs-- a poster person for dental health. And we see many patients like this each and every day.
This makes me happy. When prevention is working, when patients avoid uneccessary and costly dental problems, when cavities and gum disease are being warded off by our mutual efforts at maintaining a clean mouth and avoiding too many bad habits, I am happy indeed to send the Noxnoys off to their careers and homes with no treatment necessary, reserving our highly refined skills for someone new who hasn't been to the dentist in too long a time.
And then watching as they, also, join the ranks of the Noxnoys who only need us twice a year. ;}