Sharing Our Snowbirds

sarasota dental snowbirdsIt’s that time of the year to say ‘WELCOME BACK’! Like many dental offices in Sarasota, Florida, Smile Sarasota sees our share of “Seasonals” or “Snowbirds” – patients who come down from up north to spend the winter here in Sarasota. They’re usually with us from November until May. Many of them have been patients of ours for many years and they are used to our office ‘sharing’ them with their northern dentist. This is obviously the best scenario – it means they continue regular, good care year-round between the two practices.

But often we get a call from a new Seasonal patient with emergency dental problems and they have not established with a dental office in Sarasota. Of course we immediately see them and treat their emergency, but more importantly, Dr. Still recommends that they establish here with our office by having a Comprehensive Exam so that their care is continuous throughout the year. Surprisingly, many are hesitant to do so because they fear they will ‘upset’ their northern dentist! We want you to know that the opposite is true. They are not ‘breaking up’ with their northern dentist – they need to know that their care is shared by the two offices so they can remain healthy throughout the year. Most dentists highly recommend to their older patients that they have cleanings and checkup at least 3 times per year and most should be seen four times per year. As we age, old fillings break, dry mouth is common and the rate of decay increases when root surfaces are exposed and crowns grow old and leak. Most of our Snowbirds see us twice in the winter season and their northern dentist twice to keep on top of these issues so that emergencies don’t occur.

It’s amazing how a person’s dental health can change so drastically in the six months they are away. Invariably, when we see a patient who’s just returned to Florida, they will sometimes say that they are doing “just fine.” But on further questioning, it may be a different story. Their ‘northern dentist’ had diagnosed them with a serious problem weeks ago, but they’d told him that nothing was going to keep them from getting back to Florida for the winter. We don’t blame them…who doesn’t want to be in a warm paradise when it’s freezing up north! But when they have a toothache or a broken tooth, paradise changes.

Obviously, these emergency surprises wreak havoc with patients’ lives. As the baby boomer generation ages, and as more seniors choose a seasonal lifestyle, Smile Sarasota ensures these patients’ continuity of care – whether they are seen in the north during the summer months or in the south during the winter. We always correspond with northern dentists about our mutual patients – we routinely share X-rays, chart notes and reports. When someone leaves our practice to head back north, we remind them that we will be glad to give them any information needed to continue their care.  If the person would rather not hand carry this summary, we can securely e-mail encrypted information it to their dentist up north.

It’s a wonderful group of individuals who live the seasonal life. Many remain young at heart and continue to have an adventurous spirit, sometimes despite multiple dental problems. It’s important that the dentists who care for them get to know each other. That’s the best way to enhance the care of our mutual patients. So if you need a great dentist in Sarasota while you are here for the winter…or just visiting for a few weeks, Smile Sarasota e will take good care of you and be happy to share you!