Anytime you work with patients who have removable dentures, crazy things can happen,” says Michael Johnson of Bellevue. This was never more true than the day his office received a call from a panicked patient with a unique problem: The patient’s dog had purloined his false teeth, turning them into one very expensive chew toy. Bad timing. The patient was scheduled to fly to Russia the next morning to meet the child he’d just adopted. Understanding that having teeth is really important to make a good first impression, the patient and his mangled dentures were brought in for emergency repair, which Johnson likens to piecing together “a 3D jigsaw puzzle.” In the end, the operation was a success. The dentures weren’t perfect, but the patient was presentable, due in no small part to his big mustache. “If I’m working with somebody with a long lip and a mustache, we can make anything look good.” —Darren Davis
Joel Berg, a pediatric dentist who has practiced for 29 years, has always dealt dental advice outside the office—to party guests, to parents in casual conversation. Or, as happened one August, over the phone—in Alaska. He was in Anchorage for a conference when “a colleague of mine had been calling, and I thought it was about a business thing we’d been dealing with.” It wasn’t. The colleague, on the phone from Washington, DC, was panicked. His seven-year-old son had just fallen off his bicycle and knocked out one of his two front teeth. Berg calmly coached the parent through the steps for replacing the kid’s tusk. Which, according to Berg, “is the right thing to do, because if you get it in within the first 30 minutes, you’ve got a good shot of keeping that tooth alive. After 30 minutes the success just starts to plummet.” A few coast-to-coast phone calls later the tooth reimplantation was a success, and now, a couple of years since the incident, the tooth remains a part of the kid’s smile. —Rosin Saez
You know how most emergency kits expire before you end up needing to use them? Well, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Craig Neal really has no idea what you’re talking about. In 2000, Neal, his wife, and another dentist, Brian Cave, and his wife took a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. The first thing Neal and his wife packed (she’s a dentist too) was a well-stocked emergency kit that included the tools of their trade: anesthetic, sutures, and bandages. When the group encountered its first real set of rapids on the second day, they must have leaned a bit too far into the waves, and Cave took a blow to the head by way of his wife’s paddle, leaving a bloody, gaping cut above his right eye. As soon as the group hit the beach, Neal brandished that emergency kit, numbed Cave’s wound, and stitched up the cut. Today Cave has only pictures to remember the incident. No scars. And the surgeon? He still keeps that emergency kit on hand—and used it six years later in a similar accident involving a jet ski. —Kristen Farnam
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