Okay, class. For your assignment today, I want you to read the news item below. Then I’ll give you a little lesson on what it’s really like in the trenches for dentists and dental hygienists who deal with nutcases like this woman every day.
And…you may begin.
“A central Florida dentist was arrested after he allegedly fought with an 85-year-old patient who was upset her dentures didn’t fit properly, authorities said Wednesday.
Michael Hammonds, 57, faces multiple charges, including false imprisonment, after the Tuesday incident.
The dispute began after Hammonds attempted to adjust Virginia Graham’s lower partial dentures, authorities said. She allegedly screamed in pain because it felt like the fake teeth had cut her gum, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office charging affidavit said.
The report said a witness told authorities Graham threw the dentures at Hammonds and told him she didn’t want them. She then tried to grab them from him, but he wouldn’t let go, the report said. During a tug-of-war over the dentures, the woman’s finger got caught on a sharp piece of the denture and bled, the report said.
Graham bit the dentist on the hand and he let go of them, authorities said.
The elderly woman went to leave the office, but Hammonds allegedly blocked her way and continued screaming at her, authorities said. She said she became afraid he might hurt her, the report said.
“Graham made one final attempt to leave by trying to climb over the receptionist desk and out the receptionist’s window,” but Hammonds’ assistant helped her down, according to the report.
The deputy observed multiple bruises on Graham’s upper arms and forearms. Hammonds was released on $4,000 bond Tuesday night. A telephone message left at the dental office wasn’t immediately returned, and it wasn’t clear if he had an attorney.”
Wasn’t that fun?
Now, for some background info.—My husband was a dentist for 30 years and I was a dental hygienist for 20 years. And we lived to tell the tale.
We have encountered patients not too far removed from the woman in this piece. We did handle situations a helluva lot better than this poor schmuck did, though.
However, I tell you truthfully—it ain’t always easy.
My husband’s patients held him in high regard for his expertise, his painless injections and for his compassion.
But….he had one guy refuse to make the final payment for his dentures at his last adjustment appointment, even though he’d been extremely happy with them all through the process. That payment would have been the part that goes to pay the dental lab for their work, so we had to make that payment ourselves, thus losing any profit. The guy was sent to collection eventually but we never got anything. All it takes is for him to say that he disputes the claim.
We did, however, run into the man at a local restaurant just a few days later. He was happily chowing down on a big dinner with the nice set of teeth my husband had made for him. He just looked at us as he kept on chewing. It took all the restraint we could muster not to yank them out of his chops.
One other time, my husband had a woman from Iran who came to him in very bad shape. She had only a few remaining teeth and those, unfortunately, needed to come out. The usual procedure is to remove the last few teeth and then put in the immediate denture, which acts as a bandage while the tissue heals. The patient has teeth right away rather than going without until everything heals. It also helps the denture fit more properly if done that way.
So…the lady had her last couple of teeth extracted and the denture placed. Everything was great.
Almost two years later, she filed a lawsuit saying that she had been shocked to find “all” of her teeth removed and dentures in place. She said no one told her this was going to happen—even though she had had her adult daughter and son along with her at her appointments. Everyone spoke English—including her.
She went through a couple of lawyers who increasingly had their eyes opened to the fact that this woman’s story was hogwash. The insurance company had initially offered her a couple thousand dollars just to get her off their back since it would cost them more than that to fight it, even though they knew my husband was innnocent of any wrongdoing. She was going to accept the offer—until her new American husband got greedy and wanted to hold out for at least ten thousand.
That’s when the lawyers said “Buh-bye.” She didn’t get a dime.
In one office where I worked, there was another hygienist who had gone to dental hygiene school with me. One day she’d seen an elderly woman patient (this story really brings it all back!) who asked her to polish her partial lower denture, which had small silver clasps like the one in the news story.
My friend did as she asked and then the woman left after the end of her cleaning appointment—only to return the following day to loudly proclaim that my friend had broken the clasps on her partial. She proceeded to make a big stink about it.
She wanted $700 in damages.
My friend was angry and mortified. She knew she hadn’t broken anything and that the partial was in perfect condition when she’d returned it to her. After some checking around with other dental offices in the area, we found out that this woman had a little cottage industry going of pulling similar stunts in other offices. Sometimes it was her partial that was broken, sometimes it was something else, but this woman had a history of scamming dentists.
The woman in the news article got belligerent and actually threw her partial at the dentist and then tried to wrestle it back out of his hands, finally resorting to biting him. And he’s the one who was arrested?
I’m sure there will be lots of sympathy for the “poor little old lady.”
But not from me.