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The Gold Tooth Defense

     This past week, I met with a dentist in Mechanicsville, Virginia. He is currently providing treatment to one of my clients. To date, suit has not been filed, but I am trying to determine what is true and false about possible evidence. (yep… see what I did there)

     This is a situation where, prior to this crash, my client has only gone to the dentist in emergency situations. She is not someone who has a history of getting her teeth cleaned the recommended twice-per-year. So, before I send a settlement package to the insurance company, I wanted to be sure about what expenses relate to the automobile crash and what might be unrelated.

 

     This isn’t a blog about the importance of brushing our teeth…

 

 

 

 

   

 

     But, I’m sure that all my dentist friends would cheer me, if I remind that we should floss, brush and go for regular teeth check-ups and dental cleaning, for great smiles.

 

    After meeting with my client’s dentist, he determined that some of the recommended dental work is not related to the trauma of a crash. However, because he had just done an x-ray  of her teeth a few months before the crash, he can now see a tooth fracture that he does relate to the trauma. So, approximately $2,000 of expenses will be attributed to the crash. He will now send a letter with that opinion, and I will include that report in the letter to the insurance adjuster.

     When I meet a doctor for the first time, I am also assessing  their communication skill, in case trial is necessary. Plus, I like to know if they have any experience in court or in providing deposition testimony. When I asked him if he had previously testified, he told me this story:

     He had been retained by a defense attorney in a criminal trial in Henrico County. The defendant was charged with rape. Much of the evidence did point to this defendant, except for one item;  The victim had identified someone who had a gold tooth. This defendant did not have a gold tooth.

     In testifying, this dentist was asked to give an opinion on the health of the defendant’s teeth, and whether he had ever had gold teeth. The dentist examined the defendant; x-rayed his teeth and determined that his teeth were in good condition. It was his opinion that the defendant had never been fitted with a gold tooth, nor ever had any kind of gold tooth placed on his front teeth, for cosmetic reasons.

     It was the prosecuting attorney’s opportunity to now cross-examine this dentist. He asked the dentist some easy questions about the certainty of his opinion and whether there was any chance that this defendant had ever worn a gold tooth. The identification by the victim had this one inconsistent element.

     Again, the dentist reiterated his certainly about the health of the defendant’s teeth and assured the prosecuting attorney and the jury, that this man did not or had not worn a gold tooth. There simply was no need for dental work on the front teeth; and there was no evidence that the defendant had ever had a gold tooth.

   The prosecuting attorney then asked for a recess, before proceeding with his questioning of the dentist. When the jury returned and the dentist had re-taken the witness stand, the attorney asked about a lady that was now sitting on the front row.

     “Dr, do you know this lady?’ The dentist admitted that she was one of his patients. “When was the last time that you examined her?” The dentist paused a moment and then gave an estimate of about a month.

     The Prosecutor then asked the Judge if the lady could approach the witness stand for examination by the dentist. This had the attention of all the jurors. As she got close, she smiled to reveal a gold tooth.

     “Doctor, did you place that tooth on your patient? “No” he replied. The attorney continued, “Isn’t it true that she now has a gold tooth and if someone saw her on the street, they would say that she has a gold tooth?”. The dentist had to admit the obvious.

      The lady then reached up and pulled the gold tooth off. Subsequently, the dentist had to admit that on examination, he could not tell that she had ever worn a gold tooth.

      The prosecuting attorney then was able to establish that you can purchase a gold tooth for about ten dollars. All other evidence had pointed to the guilt of this defendant, except the gold tooth.

     As the dentist told me, it probably was not the kind of expert testimony credibility that I was expecting. But, he went on to say that he learned something that day too. There truly are “gold tooth disguises” for crime. Sometimes, expert testimony does not consider all possibilities. It’s the stuff that good fiction novels contain, but this was real testimony.

     For pic o’ day, I am not trying to be political; but, this picture combination of Bill and Hillary Clinton just got my attention. I know, it’s nonsense.

Teeth Pulled Story is False

I started to title the blog “Teeth Story False”. Then, I read it again and started to type “False Teeth Story”. Yep, just getting started was tough. It’s never good to have teeth and false in the same sentence. My grandfather would always say to me, “be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you”.

I almost bit when I saw the story. (I know, kinda like the title) I almost did a blog on the story of the Polish vengeful dentist  who pulled all the teeth of her ex-boyfriend. Somehow, I got distracted and never got to it, thankfully.  If you missed it, then the retraction won’t mean as much, except it shows how the news cycle can get caught up in sensational stories.

At the end of April, news sources like Yahoo and MSNBC reported on dentist Anna Mackowiak. Supposedly, her ex came in because of a toothache. She put him out to do dental work. When he woke up, he noticed significant jaw pain, but she told him that it had just been a difficult procedure.

Supposedly, he got home and then saw that all his teeth were gone. To add insult to toothlessness, his new girlfriend was so shook up by the loss of teeth that she broke up with him.

I’m sure that plenty did a blog on that story. Now, we find out that it was all a hoax.  A reporter from MSNBC decided to do some “chipping away” to find out the truth. Reporter Erin Tennant learned that the police were not investigating anything about it; There was no record of it with Poland’s Chamber of Commerce.

No newspaper in Poland had done any story on it. (that was probably a big clue) No one could even find a dentist named Anna Mackowiak. As the reporter indicated, about the only thing determined is that “someone was pulling our leg”.

Will Rogers said,  “All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance”. Guess this story is a good reminder to not just believe it,  because we read it. Well, except when you read a trusted blog!!!

For pic o’ day, I chose Dental Bowling:

 

 

Brain Injury and Talking Teeth

   As a child, my parents would take me to a Dentist named Dr. Evey. Now, most kids are scared of the dentist and so was I. Dr. Evey  had experience in dealing with those fears.

     Every time I would go for a teeth cleaning, that same fear would creep on my shoulder. So, he would make great effort in making me laugh.

     He kept a collection of false teeth and would pretend like the teeth would talk to me. It was almost like a puppet show, but they were just talking teeth.

     I would laugh my fears away because of those talking teeth. In fact, I always would ask him to pull all my teeth, so I could have my own set of false teeth.

     I thought that it would really be fun to pull those teeth out and play with them. I had no thought of the consequences. My brain was not developed enough to understand a future of Polident; scary corn on the cob events; and the fact that teenagers are not humored with false teeth, like a kid might be.

     Thankfully, Dr. Evey did not take me seriously. He just cleaned my teeth and sent me on my way until the next “tooth show”. My brain was not developed to appreciate that pulling all my teeth was not a good idea.

    Decision making is made in the frontal lobe of our brains. When someone gets in an accident and hits their head, it can have a long term effect on the executive functioning and thinking.

     Our practice represents many people that have hit their head in a car crash. Many have their symptoms resolve in a year. Some, though, have permanent problems that effect them for life.

     Brain injury can occur without bring knocked unconscious. Sometimes, even the force of an airbag can cause such trauma.

     The impact on the person extends to family members. Some describe the event as “the day I lost my wife or husband” . The person they married is changed and it’s because of someone’s carelessness.

     For brain injury, help needs to be given to the individual and to the family. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIA) provides information on treatment and support groups. It also helps families cope with the issues of brain injury.

     Sometimes, just understanding the issues and symptoms becomes a big relief to families. A brain injured person is helped to overcome being a victim; to become a brain injury survivor.

Dental Radiation

     I walked by two different paralegals this morning, and noticed that they were viewing web pages on their computers that had nothing to do with work. I say that because I can’t imagine that Kate Gosselin or “how to make a meatless sandwich” is part of a litigation case or a settlement package.

     I noticed that when they heard my footsteps, they both quickly clicked to something else that was firm related. Maybe they think that I am oblivious. In fact, I understand that no one is completely focused at all times. I have issued no policies to restrict personal calls and I don’t keep my staff from going on the Internet. In fact, my computer team wanted to know if I was going to install some filter to keep employees from going to job search sites. For me, good employees will police themselves regarding the Internet and if someone wants to leave, then let’s roll out the red carpet. I only want good workers who want to be here.

     I guess I’m more bothered about the “quick click” from the non-work websites. If my presence causes that, then maybe there should be a question about going there. Plus, it just feels a little dishonest. I was impressed with the amazing quick wrist capabilities. How do you like how I’m using my blog for employment coaching within the office?

     Again, I used this long introduction to get to the question of safety at the dental office. I just was there for a teeth cleaning. Hopefully actions now will keep it from just being a tooth cleaning in the future. Of course, I could barely get in the chair without the announcement that I needed to have dental x-rays. I wondered whether it would ever be possible to have my teeth checked when I go through airport security.

     I have been reading a lot about too many x-rays and whether the benefits outweigh the radiation. I was faced with the decision of whether I should just let the teeth fall out of the head or subject myself to the x-rays. I know the suspense is building.

     The dental hygienist told me that the x-rays were safe because dental x-rays have far less radiation. Of course, she did admit that she got that information from the x-ray machine technician or salesperson. She wasn’t sure. Since I doubt motives when profit is involved, I came back to research and this is what I found.

    This page from the FDA, highlights that such exposure is cumulative. I was a little more relieved after reading it. The impact of many is worse than little, but that’s no surprise. The faster the machine at the dental office, apparently the safer  it is.  If you are an adult, every 3 years is probably good enough; teens at 2 years and children are every one to 2 years.

     One idea I had not thought of is that they recommend rinsing your mouth before and after the x-rays. Also, ask to wear the iron apron. Don’t ask to take that home because it matches with something you already own. (just seeing if you’re still with me). One other thing, it is like the sun a bit in that it can also cause skin cancer at certain levels.

     I am always fascinated by teeth cleaning “deals”. It always feels like the 2 liter bottle of Pepsi to get me to the grocery store. The loss leader item then starts the x-ray, teeth whitening or veneer sale. In the end, they usually give me a tooth brush and some little floss as my “lovely parting gift”. Why can’t they give me licorice instead since I did have the x-rays today?

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