July 16, 2018

Ask the Dentist!

Dr. Ekta Cheba – DMD
Dr. Ekta Cheba

In my business (heating and air conditioning) the holiday season is the worst for home emergencies, mostly because people have a house full of relatives and either no heat or associated plumbing issues. Does the dental profession have their list of holiday ‘woes’ too?

Dental problems happen year around, so oral health takes no holidays. Yes, we do have specific emergencies that create much more anxiety than others. Firstly, people are rushing and frequently under the gun to get shopping completed, and family travel plans organized. Each year when we think we have a handle on year end case completions, we get the unexpected. Many dental insurance plans are on a calendar year expiry, and it’s common to have patients discover their unused benefits are going to evaporate and they haven’t scheduled that crown replacement. Any unused benefit remaining on their policy will vanish, and nobody wants to see that. Dental care requires a team effort between our staff as well as the dental labs. It takes time to diagnose and treatment plan a restoration and the chances of that all occurring between Dec 15 and the end of the year are slim. There just isn’t enough lead time. A colleague had a new patient arrive with some significant deferred maintenance in his mouth. He proudly announced that he was now ready to get it all fixed, because he had saved up $12,000 in unused insurance benefits to pay for it. Unfortunately, $10,000 of that had evaporated. Sometimes you do have to read that boring fine print on your insurance policies!
Aside from insurance and end of year time constraints, the holidays add seasonal issues like icy sidewalks, accidents with that new pair of skis or ice skates, new bicycles, new snowshoes – the list goes on. Some patients mix up tools and teeth, and break teeth on anything from nuts to opening beverage bottles. What about the legendary Christmas parties? Dentists see the aftermath of too much ‘party’ and teeth can collide with coffee tables – and the table usually ‘wins’! If you do happen to chip, fracture, or simply break a tooth off completely – save any pieces you can. If the tooth can be rinsed in warm water and inserted back into the socket, do so. If it cannot, don’t force it. Get into your dental office ASAP and there is a decent chance you may save it. The holidays are no different than any other busy time. Take a little extra time in planning for anything, because chances are that time will be consumed by things beyond your control!

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