Doing it Right: Dr. Craig Johnson

It’s shocking. I know. Following my first root canal in January I told everyone I knew that I’d happily return for another one the following day if I had to. It’s not that a root canal is a walk in the park but Dr. Craig Johnson and his staff have perfected the experience down to an art form. I call it doing it right.

Here are just a few of the things they’re doing right:

He’s an expert. Having never met Dr. Johnson or had a root canal I was comforted by the fact that the procedure is one of Dr. Johnson’s specialties. Read expert.

They understand the importance of establishing trust. When I first called to schedule my January 3rd appointment way back last October, the topic of dental insurance came up. I provided Rochelle with my dental insurance information, set the appointment and congratulated myself on my bravery. {Yes, I’m a wimp.}

A couple of days later, Rochelle called back to confirm the insurance information and requested that I send her a copy of my card because she was having trouble with it. I just wasn’t showing up in the system. I happily complied, knowing full well that it’s my responsibility as the patient, not hers as the provider, to deal with the insurance company. Upon receipt of the email containing the card information she called me to say she still couldn’t figure it out but would keep working on it and that I shouldn’t worry.

Turns out I had provided her with the incorrect insurance information. *face palm* But she made my problem her problem, she persevered and figured it out.

Most places won’t do anything—schedule an appointment, agree to see you, nothing—until they’ve nailed down the insurance information. I was reclining in the dental chair when she finally figured it out. Guess what? I’d provided her with the wrong information. But throughout the whole process, she established trust by believing I had insurance even though I sent her down a rabbit trail.

They acknowledge and help you manage your fear. Root canal day arrived and I was exhausted, having not slept a wink from sheer terror at the dread of the day’s goings on. Visions of the root being drilled from my jaw gave me night sweats.

So what exactly is it about the idea of a root canal that made me fearful? That’s exactly what Dr. Johnson asked me after he’d introduced himself. In my case, three things:

  1. Pain. I could care less about the pain I know I will experience when I’m home. I fully expect that if someone has a drill to my head that I’ll experience pain. (How could you not?) I just don’t want to feel any when I’m in the dentist’s chair. Is that too much to ask? Meet Dr. Johnson. After he asked me what I was most afraid of, he listened to my response. And he made me feel like he “got it.” OMG! How crazy is it that I’m telling you that he listened like it’s something that most medical professionals don’t do?! (And yet it is.)
  2. Feeling stupid. I don’t want to feel stupid. I am stupid about dentistry. I experienced my first filling in my late 30s, so I’m a relative newbie. But in general I’m not stupid. I love that the receptionist let me complete my own “paperwork” on their computer.
  3. I’m also afraid of making the wrong decision. I only have so many teeth. Drilling one out by the roots is irreversible. And it’s expensive. Dr. Johnson took the time to explain all of my options sans pressure, and when I made a decision I knew it was the right one.
  4. Pain. Have I mentioned pain? I’m deathly afraid of feeling pain. And Dr. Johnson and his team made sure I felt nothing

My comfort was important to them. Someone noticed the sun was in my eyes and asked me if I wanted the blinds pulled. I mentioned that I’d forgotten Bucky, my neck pillow. They offered me the use of theirs. They provided me with sun glasses.

Respect. I’ve never observed any medical professional to be so incredibly respectful of an assistant. Even in my medicated state I observed it.

As I stood up after the procedure, more dazed and confused because I hadn’t felt any pain, I wondered what the fuss over root canals was all about. I’m serious.

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About Mary Rarick

Caffeine-addicted hyphen enthusiast, grammar geek and former editor; lover of shoes, vacuum cleaner tracks and compelling content; enthusiastic, perennial cause adopter; hash tag abuser, connector and social media strategist.
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