Sink your teeth into this: the shocking first thing taught in dental school

Why do dentists always ask questions when you can’t reply?

“Imin marobolog ah cahncourah” is about as good as it’s going to get when you’re asked a question from your dentist who’s elbow deep in your mouth.

Being asked a question while you’re unable to respond has likely happened to anyone who’s ever been to the dentist. It’s frustrating. Why would they ask if they know you can’t reply?

I’m sure this is something that keeps you up at night — and that’s why I’ve compiled some reasons for this common and irritating phenomenon.

“We had a whole class on it,” says Dr. Robert Abdulezer, when asked whether this was something he learned in dentistry school.

In fact, some very reliable sources have mentioned that this is one of the first things future dentists learn. But why?

“It’s more fun for us to ask questions and feel like we’re talk show hosts,” says Dr. Morrie Levy. Though he had dreams of becoming a comedian, dentistry was actually a better option — he gets to talk as much as he wants and his audience can’t leave, let alone boo him off the stage.

As with any profession, it can easily get tedious. Some dentists ask patients questions when they’re working on their mouths to spice up the monotony.

This is a little more far-fetched, but for some dentists, like Dr. Alyce Fischer, asking patients questions that they can’t answer is actually an unintentional reflex. She says that it can be used strategically, “To get their mind off of what is happening, as a distraction,” but that seems too simple to me. It has to be a bit juicier than that.

In fact, I’ve heard that there’s a sponsored points system by the Order of Dentists to reward those with extraordinary abilities to guess what patients are saying. It’s allegedly become a game among them and the assistants. But I can’t reveal more — crimes that involve divulging secret information are punishable by root canals.

“I remember when I was younger it would bother me so much. I was like, ‘Why are you asking me such open ended questions when I just can’t give you the answer?’” admits Dr. Abdulezer. However, upon becoming a dentist, he seems to have forgotten his younger frustration, and says that he partakes in these inefficient inquiries.

Some dentists argue that if patients are really just bothered by this, they should just let their teeth rot. They are not going to change their practices, but patients can change theirs if it really bothers them.

“The smart person would text me the answer and show me it on their phone. That’s big technology,” says Dr. Levy. He laments that teens are always Snapchatting in his chair and would rather them use their phone to solve important issues, like this one.

Only time will tell if this is an effective solution, but I won’t keep you here until your teeth fall out.

Oh, and don’t forget to brush and floss!


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam

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