Expect the Unexpected

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Need a dentist? Never on Sunday

Oh you can have a toothache on a Wednesday, a Thursday, a Friday
In fact you really should
Because if it’s on a Sunday, a Sunday, a Sunday
For dentists that’s no good.

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, have you ever had a really bad toothache on a Sunday only to find out that there is no emergency dental care available? Why is that?

That was me this weekend. Saturday night I suddenly got an excruciating pain in a lower back tooth. Nothing would stop it. Meds didn’t help. I couldn’t sleep. By Sunday morning I was in agony. If I had a pair of pliers handy, I would have yanked the tooth out myself, novocaine be damned.

Because I was “between” regular dentists at the moment, I didn’t have one I could call for help, so I desperately googled “emergency dental care” for my area and discovered the local hospital had a dental program. Its website was encouraging:

“The Department of Dentistry provides a full range of dental services including implant dentistry, endodontics, periodontics, emergency dental services and cosmetic dentistry through our general practice residency program. We are committed to a higher level of care, using the latest technologies and techniques to ensure your comfort and satisfaction.”

Yes, emergency dental services! Off I scooted to the ER for help.

But no, not on Sunday.

At least that’s what the handsome, but ultimately unhelpful physician’s assistant told me. “No, sorry, there’s no one from Dentistry here on Sunday,” he said, with the nicest possible bedside-manner voice.

So like little Cindy Lou Who, I was sent out the door with a sparkling smile from Dr. Cute, a pat on the head, another insurance deductible, and a prescription for Vicodin, which did not help. At all.

After another sleepless night, Monday morning I called my new dentist who took me immediately. “Your tooth is cracked,” he said. That explained why nothing would ease the pain. He referred me to a tooth-yanking specialist and by 3:30 that afternoon, the tooth and pain were gone for good.

Life is beautiful. Relief. I have the best dentists in the world.

But back to the Andy Rooney thing. What’s with this lack of Sunday dental care?

A little research revealed that many areas of the country do indeed have Sunday services available. New York City, for example, just 70 minutes away, is the mother lode of Sunday dentistry. Not only can you get immediate help for that toothache, you can also get cleanings, whitenings, and other routine procedures too.

But apparently not in my town. I’ve got to think that with the prices a dentist could charge for Sunday services (I would have handed over the deed to my house to anyone who’d help me), you could make a very nice living working just three days a week with Sundays in the mix.

Lessons learned:
•   Don’t be “between dentists.” Make the switch before you need a new one.
•   Don’t rely on a website to tell you a hospital has emergency dental care. Call and get specifics.
•   Don’t get a toothache on a Sunday. Ever.


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2 thoughts on “Need a dentist? Never on Sunday

  1. Depending on where you live, there are many dentists open on Sundays, like Emergencydental.com or Emergencydentist247.com. They may not become your primary dentist, but they can sure get you thru the weekend! Also, many dentists have emergency contact information, and if you tell them that you are “in between dentists” they might come in on Sunday in hopes of gaining a new patient. The lifetime value of a new patient for a dentist is pretty substantial, and it may be worth giving up some time on their Sunday off.

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