As I sit down writing this article on Christmas Eve, drinking my Ovaltine with chia seeds, I know I will be getting a phone call from someone needing some sort of emergency dental treatment due to a toothache. Whether it be a root canal or an extraction, I can only advise you on how to handle the situation if and when it may occur, and then finish it all up with what you can do to prevent forest fires! Sorry, wrong article… What you can do to prevent a dental emergency!
Ok, the reality is you probably had that toothache for a while and you should have taken care of it earlier. A toothache just doesn’t happen that day. There’s a tingling, a slight pain, and you ignore it until….tada….Christmas day. I know, I know, you were shopping for presents. Little Jimmy needed the new Xbox and Sophie wanted the latest Barbie. Quite frankly there’s a ton of excuses but the reality is life in general gets in the way. We all have a tendency to procrastinate, and it just sucks because its Christmas. Now you need someone. You don’t care if it is me or some other dentist in Fort Lauderdale, but you want to get out of pain.
First thing you should do is call your dentist. Usually there is an emergency answering service, or as it is in my office, I have my cell phone on the answering machine. I don’t mind you calling me on Christmas day, Hannukah, Yom Kippur, whenever. As long as you call during a reasonable time, and you are an existing patient, I can call in a prescription for you. If it is a dental infection, we can control (not eliminate) the infection so you may enjoy your holiday, and we can treat you after you have enjoyed your family time and your egg nog. Do not call me at midnight (yes that has happened), or else I will turn into Mr. Grinch!
If you are not an existing patient, or you simply do not have an emergency dentist, things can become a bit more complicated. If you need a dental professional on a holiday, and you have never seen him or her before, the law requires you are seen for a prescription, and obviously for any dental treatment. Generally opening up the office on a holiday will have an added fee attached to that emergency dental treatment. Furthermore, for an emergency dental visit on a national holiday, there is almost no way I will be able to verify your dental insurance. Therefore everything from the time you walk in, to the procedure itself is your responsibility to pay. On the same token, however, I know I will be able get you out of pain so you can appreciate that Honey Baked Ham a little more.
The last option is to go the emergency room at a hospital. We had someone call up the office this past week, and when we told her how much it would be to take out a tooth, she said, “I’ll just go to the ER.” I didn’t want to argue, but the truth is, if you have a dental emergency in Fort Lauderdale, the LAST place you want to be is at the ER!!! A physician knows as much about treating a toothache as I do about delivering a baby. We all have our sub-specialties, and the truth of the matter is a physician will give you an antibiotic, a pain med, and tell you to see a dentist after Christmas. All this, and you will spend a ton more – not only in time waiting to be treated, but also in expenses. Last time I checked, hospitals cost way more on any day than me on a day when I’m not even supposed to work.
The best thing you can do is see a dentist regularly (meaning at least every 6 months) for a check-up, cleaning, and diagnostic x-rays. Prevention is always key. If we can prevent the problem from happening in the first place, it will save you time, money and most importantly tearing you away from family on this special day.
The second best thing you can do is DON’T BE STUPID! Yeah, you heard me. Don’t get drunk the night before Christmas and get into a fight at a bar with your cousins. Don’t get drunk and trip over your dog and break your two front teeth. Don’t relive your glory days, and do double dutch with your daughter, and then the top of her head hits up underbelly of your chin. Those have been my last few Christmas emergencies.
All you should want for Christmas is to keep your two front teeth. Dream of a white Christmas, white teeth, because after all…..this is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Have a good one my friends.