Especially Before A Holiday!
Dental emergencies are as varied as the people who have the misfortune to experience them. From the sudden toothache to the lost crown, from the acute abscess to the broken tooth, dental “urgencies” come in a variety of manifestations and when they do present themselves, it often happens at a most inopportune and inconvenient time (weekends, holidays, vacations…)
I have written a number of self-help blogs that have been “googled” by the dental misfortunate seeking first aid tips for the unexpected crisis. And as a way of underscoring the commonplace nature of the dental emergency, two blogs in particular (5 Home Remedies For A Toothache and What To Do If You Break A Tooth Or Lose A Crown) have had over 200,000 visits.
Suffice it to say that dental mishaps are a fact of life and dealing with dental emergencies are very much a part of a dentist’s day-to-day duties.
As I alluded to, dental emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and by their very nature are indifferent to the time of day or day of the week. So it should not come as surprise when I recount the circumstances of a recent (and rather unique) dental crisis upon which I was called to act.
- Time Of Distress Call: Sunday of Labor Day weekend
- Location: On the beach at Fire Island, New York
- Nature Of Crisis: My dear friend Lenny’s 92-year old mother, Gertrude, had just flushed her lower denture down the toilet!
So what’s a mother to do? Call her son! What’s the son to do? Turn to his friend who was sunning himself right next to him – that be me!) and say, “Michael, can you help?” I said “Of course!”
- Complicating Factor: The Jewish New Year and a family gathering to celebrate was less than a week away. The prospect of not having teeth (to smile, to speak let alone to be able to enjoy the traditional holiday meal) was mortifying. The dental lab requires three days to manufacture a denture and we had only three days to deliver the finished product (including the several intermediate steps that needed to be performed in my office.
[Important sidebar]: Comfortable complete lower dentures are perhaps the single most challenging and disappointing dental prosthesis in clinical dentistry for both dentist and patient. (Thank goodness for dental implants, amen!)
- The Story: I saw Gert in my office three times during the already shortened week between Labor Day and the Jewish holiday. On her final visit, which was a Friday, I delivered her the finished denture. I did warn that she still would need a few adjustments and the brisket might be a challenge. Also that she would most likely experience the predictable development of denture sores. (Warm saltwater rinses and analgesic denture cream would be her friends during this time).
- The Coincidence: We were both headed to Fire Island for the holiday; Gert with her son Lenny and me with my wife, Ann. Our homes are four houses away from each other.
On Saturday, I made a house call. I examined Gert’s mouth on the backyard deck under bright sunlight. I adjusted and relieved any areas of irritation and polished the denture. All documented by the photojournalist-on-hand: her son, Lenny. She got a real kick out of a dentist making a house call, let alone a beach house call.
I received a hug and a kiss from a most appreciative and humored patient. And a wonderful festive meal was enjoyed by all.
Oh, I forgot to mention, that our families were welcoming the New Year together with what could only be described as a festive feast. We spent a joyous evening together thankful for all that we have. And Gertrude looked MARRVELLLOUS! The belle of the ball!
With a kiss farewell, I told her loved breaking bread with special emphasis of the soft center of the challah.