Oct 27, 2007

On Broken Teeth, Lawuits, and Honesty

Left: A fractured first molar, though not mine

One moment I was contentedly munching a steak sandwich, enjoying lunch with my wife, and the next I heard that dreaded C-R-A-A-A-C-K sound that can only mean one thing: a fractured tooth. The noise was loud enough through my closed mouth for my wife to hear, and my afternoon took a decidedly unexpected turn.

As a former multi-unit restaurant owner whose customers filed numerous food-based injury claims against me, I have to admit that my first thought involved getting witnesses and suing the restaurant. After all, this must be my turn to hit the insurance lottery, right? After all, I will never live to see the fruits of my life insurance, and it would be some well-deserved payback after all the dubious claims filed against my company, like the $4,000 paid out when a customer claimed a 1" x 2" piece of Saran Wrap "almost killed him" after he bit into it, or the lying thieves who tried to shake us down over a fictitious trip to the emergency room, and for whom the insurance company cut a check rather than fight in court.

Sigh. Such pleasant memories I have as a former business owner.

I spit out the food and began to dig through the half-chewed sandwich, eventually finding a half-inch piece of one of my maxillary first molars. I did not find any foreign objects or hard chunks of bone, and in thinking back I wondered if the food even caused the tooth to fracture.

My wife put my priorities in perspective for me.

"Look - we have dental insurance, and you had a crown on that tooth, so it might have had some hidden decay," she noted. "You probably wouldn't collect anything more than the repair cost, anyways. Let's just go home."

As usual, she saw through the temporary situation (my throbbing tooth nerves) and addressed the larger issues (integrity and practicality). I knew that there were reasons I married her beyond her beauty, brains, and an remarkable ability to work a table saw and a router.

So in spite of the fact that hot and cold foods send a shooting pain through my head, I get to enjoy the longer-term benefits associated with doing the right thing. Excuse me while I perform the Pious Dance and search for that bottle of Vicodin I was prescribed for the kidney stone still stuck in my ureter.


microdot said...

As a lost soul spending his free mondays in dental purgatory, you have my profound sympathy....

I cracked my front tooth last year on a fragment of bone in a particularly delicious serving of coq au vin.

No real pain, I just went about looking like a total hick until I got back home 2 weeks later and could schedule a dentists appointment.

historymike said...

Thanks, microdot.

I was reading a website about emergency procedures for broken teeth when I came across some advice I am trying out.

I purchased a small vial of Dentemp and used it to fill the big hole caused by the breaking of a cusp. Initially it reduces the effects of cold air on the exposed pulp and nerve.

I will post more as I find out if this will adhere and hold me over until I can see my dentist next week.

microdot said...

I will always remember the day I was in my wifes office in New York and her boss, a rather eccentric French perfume bottle designer, came into the office in a panic. He was due to give a major presentation and he had just broken a tooth!
He was looking for superglue!
He disappeared into the bathroom and we heard cursing coming out and he emerged a few minutes later with a big grin and left for the meeting.

Kids, don't try this at home!

Mad Jack said...


Try Red Cross® Toothache Medication to relieve the pain. It worked for me, immediately stopping the absolute agony of a busted chop.

Anonymous said...


I have to wonder if the pain from your kidney stone might also be the cause of the cracked tooth. My husband was in so much pain from his torn rotator cuff that he cracked his tooth. His dentist also rec'd a night guard.

Best wishes.

JQ said...

Jeez, you're a mess!

Darlene said...

I understand your feelings about not suing because you have dental insurance, but what do you do if you bite down on a piece of glass in your sandwhich, yes glass, and break a tooth root. I paid $7000 in Dental Bills and the piece of glass with the breading still on it. Proving where it came from if some one wanted to test it. The resturant has admitted they are to blame but only offered $5000.00. So not only would I still be out $2000.00 but also would receive nothing for all the pain, not to mention a bone infection I got in my jaw in the whole process.All of this is documented, what would you suggest I do? I'm not looking to get rich and I have never sued anyone before. But.... I do think there should be some kind of compensation. I'd appreciate a little advice coming from the other side of all this.

Javier Portocarrero said...
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