The Secret to 44 Years in Dentistry
I ’ve been practicing dentistry for over 40 years now, and a lot has changed in that time. Dental technology has improved, techniques have become more refined, and treatment is far better than it was when I was getting my start. But with all of these changes, one thing has remained the same: the relationships. I love building relationships with people and really getting to know them. Sometimes, I may only see a person twice a year, but I enjoy that time we have together. For patients who have been with me for a number of years, or even decades, it’s like we’ve been on a journey together. I get to watch families form and kids grow up. It’s incredible. At the same time, I can help people. I’m working with them to achieve their goal of having a healthy smile. Having a healthy smile can do wonders for a person. It can renew their confidence and help them feel great about themselves. More recently, I’ve been working with patients who have sleep disorders, specifically sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is an awful condition that can have a detrimental impact on a person’s health. It can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, fatigue, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and premature death. These are just a few examples of how bad sleep apnea can be. I’m excited that I can help people with this condition by providing my patients with education, treatment, and alternatives to CPAP machines. Sleep apnea affects a lot of people. At the same time, many people don’t know they have it, or they don’t know what to do about it — so they live with it. I started offering sleep apnea services after I realized just how much it was needed. As you may know, I offer sedation dentistry, which helps patients relax if they get nervous or anxious at the dentist. One day I gave a patient a normal IV sedation drip. It was something I had done countless times before. While he was sedated, he started to experience convulsions. I double-checked
“I love building relationships with people and really getting to know them.”
my monitor, and everything looked normal. But that clearly wasn’t the case.
I looked in to why this had happened, and it turned out the patient suffered from sleep apnea. While he was sedated, his body relaxed, and certain muscles in the jaw and throat also relaxed. This made it hard for him to breathe and his body reacted. Many people go through this every night, and they don’t know their problem has to do with restricted breathing. Today, this individual is one of my star dental patients, as well as one of my star sleep apnea patients. That’s something we’re both thankful for. And that’s really what keeps me passionate about what I do after 44 years in dentistry. I am constantly learning and applying what I’ve learned. The dental field is always changing. You could say it keeps me on my toes. But at the end of the day, I get to continue to help people in new and better ways, and that makes every day worth it.
– Dr. Portale
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