Not having anything go really truly catastrophically poorly at the clinic yet, I have been wondering how I will explain to a patient when, inevitably, things go wrong. For example: “Whoah, this does not fit.” Or, “That tooth really did not last long at all.”
Assuming a dental explanation won’t do much to advance the patient’s understanding of the situation, there is a possible analogy. Consider basketball players: their job is to get an orange ball through a hoop. This is what they are paid to do. There are other things they are paid to do, but if they’re not facilitating getting an orange ball through a hoop, they’re not doing their job. This, it seems, is quite a specialty. However, even these specialists don’t make every shot they shoot. There are too many different circumstances. We don’t call them a poor basketball players because of this; instead, we consider the challenges they face.
Similarly, dentists can’t fix every tooth perfectly, and have it last for the rest of your life. They get paid to fix teeth, and they’ll do their best, but it’s impossible to fix 100% of the teeth that they encounter.
I don’t know if this analogy will work, because I haven’t yet tried it. I hope it’s a while before I have to try it out.