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More dental drama and oral oddities

Mar 15, 2012

Recently in this space I blogged about weird dental stories here and abroad. Below is another installment in this believe-it-or-not series.

Story #1  

Electronic cigarettes are often perceived as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes because they use fewer chemicals. But while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last fall that electronic cigarettes were addictive, they did not explain that if one exploded while smoking “it would be like a bottle rocket going off in your mouth.”

That was the analogy used by a Pensacola, Florida fire department chief describing what happened to 57-year-old Earl Holloway, a Vietnam-era veteran and the first person known to have one of the devices explode in his mouth.

A faulty battery is believed to have caused the device to explode, blowing out some of Mr. Holloway’s front teeth, a chunk of his tongue and severely burning his face. Holloway was in his office at home when the explosion occurred, leaving behind scorched carpet, chair cushions and office equipment. The device’s lithium battery also blew out of the cigarette tube and set Holloway’s closet on fire.

Fortunately Holloway recovered after receiving treatment at a Mobile, Alabama hospital.

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette has reported there are 2.5 million Americans using the electronic devices but they had never heard of this happening before. Speaking about fads exploding in popularity…

Story #2  

Last fall the media was reporting on the latest fashion fad to come out of Tokyo: crooked teeth. Apparently Japanese youth find “snaggleteeth,” or “yaeba” endearing.

Could this explain the popularity of Diego, the saber-tooth tiger in Pixar’s Ice Age franchise?

Japanese media report that the theory behind the appeal of yaeba is that classic beauty intimidates suitors of the opposite sex, but men and women with crooked teeth are considered more approachable.

Japan has few orthodontists but for those trendy types who also happen to be “cursed” with straight teeth, there are businesses like Dental Salon Plaisir that provide Tsuke-yaeba, or Stick-on Crooked Teeth.  For upwards of $390, a Plaisir dentist will glue on plastic chompers that are color-matched to the patient’s real teeth. 

Tokyo orthodontist Masaru Iwatsuki said covering the teeth is a bad idea because teeth need oxygen to breathe.  He also called the cosmetic procedure “crazy” and a “passing fad.” 

And speaking of crazy…

Story #3

The last thing Jan Pelchat expected after her mother passed away in mid-December was a bill for her mom’s health and dental premium – for the entire month.

Pelchat’s mother Yolande Marshall had worked for 30 years in the Nashua School District as a teacher and guidance counselor and had her monthly health and dental premiums deducted from her pension check. Mrs. Pelchat called the New Hampshire Retirement system December 22 explaining that her mother had died December 19. She then mailed the group her mother’s final pension check uncashed with a note.

Weeks later, after mailing the note Jan and her husband Maurice got a bill from the city of Nashua noting that the deceased owed the city $639.43 for health and dental premiums for December. In essence, the Pelchat’s were being billed for 12 days of health and dental coverage after Pelchat’s mother expired. 

Mrs. Pelchat said she found the city’s request “bizarre” and wondered why the premium wasn’t at least prorated.  That seems logical since only the living utilize health and dental insurance. 

She also wondered why the city billed her and her husband because she couldn’t think of any way the retirement system or the city would have known their name and address except for her notifying them that her mother had passed away. 

The city responded that it was standard policy that a pensioner’s full monthly medical premiums must be paid back, even if they died on the last day of that month. City officials did not answer why the Pelchat’s were being billed personally.

Pelchat said that “as a goodwill gesture,” she would pay a portion of her mother’s premiums, but added that since the New Hampshire Retirement System and the City of Nashua were unwilling to pay her mother’s pension for the portion of December that she was alive, Pelchat decided it was only fair that she not pay for those same insurance premiums for the portion of December that her mother was deceased.

“Under protest” Pelchat agreed to pay a total of $385.78 of the premium and the city accepted. Who said you can’t fight city hall?

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk. Remember, the world always look brighter from behind a smile. Please email me with topics you’d like to see in our blog at:

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Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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