When you see a client twice or more a year for over a decade, you certainly build a trust like no other. As a therapist (yes, we hygienists are therapists) I have found that patients sometimes just need help with other completely unrelated topics.
There was no preparing for the recent discussion I found myself in the middle of.
I was moving along at a nice pace with the ultrasonic. She motioned for me to stop and closed her lips on the suction. She then says our of nowhere, "I'm getting a little incontinent". I immediately pushed the button on the chair keypad and told her she could take a quick break. She then explained that it wasn't happening at the moment... but that sometimes in the night, she doesn't always make it to the restroom in time.
Enter 100 thought bubbles and a tad bit of an awkward moment.
I honestly wasn't sure if she was just trying to rattle me....but then she asked me what I thought she should do. She explained that her doctor just wanted to put her on a medication right away and didn't seem to care. I realized that this person felt comfortable enough to ask me about a very personal problem and I had no choice but to give an honest opinion.
I told her about Ben Wa surgical stainless steel weighted balls that could be used to exercise the pelvic muscles. I explained that although I wasn't an expert, I could get her in contact with someone who was. I conjured up every bit of information I had ever read in the book "So, You're Having a Baby", age related down stairs issues in a woman's health magazine years ago and so on. I relayed information that was given at a Pure Romance party (of all things) last year. As the words came out of my mouth, I was both horrified and proud.
She gave me a big hug that day and thanked me for listening.
I gave her a phone number and wished her well.
I highly recommend all of my colleagues take the time to educate patients about being healthy. This doesn't stop at the benefits of fluoride and how one's medications can effect their saliva. It means using your clinical skills and reasoning while reviewing a medical history. It means using all of the information you gather to give heartfelt advice. Since the mouth is connected to the rest of the body, it only makes sense that we teach good habits beyond brushing and flossing. So be ready, because every now and then, you are going to get some questions that you might not be expecting.
Take it as a compliment when your clients trust your opinions.
What was the most awkward conversation in your dental chair??? I'd love to hear your stories!