Did Anxiety Cause Woman to Set Off Sprinkler at Dentist’s Office?

A woman in St. Charles, Missouri was just sentenced to four years in prison for the $10,000 in damage she caused at a dentist's office when she set off the fire suppression sprinkler system.

A First-Time Dental Patient

dreamstime_s_11852436Melissa Reann Frederick was a first-time patient at the dentist’s office. After she arrived, she asked to use the bathroom. While she was in the bathroom, the sprinkler system engaged, causing more than $10,000 in damage to the office in the form of electronics, carpet, drywall, and other property.

The woman claims that the sprinkler was set off accidentally when she lit a napkin on fire while trying to apply lighter flame to her eye pencil. This is potentially reasonable, after all, trying to heat up an eye pencil with a lighter is a real beauty trick that people sometimes use.

Unfortunately, building inspectors dispute that this could have set off the sprinklers. The sprinkler sensor must reach a temperature of 155 degrees before the system is activated. If the source of heat was coming from a napkin in the sink as Frederick claims, the entire room would have to have been seriously on fire, and Frederick would have suffered burns. Since she did not, prosecutors allege she stood on the sink and held a lighter to the sprinkler head to set off the system.

Serious Dental Anxiety?

In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, it says, “Frederick’s motive for the action was unclear,” but we are going to speculate–and this is only speculation.

Perhaps Frederick, a new patient at the dentist’s office, was so overcome with anxiety that she absolutely had to get out of her dentist appointment. She may also have been afraid of admitting her fear, either to her dentist or to others in her life, so she looked for some way to get out of the appointment, and her fear-addled brain settled on the scheme with the sprinklers. It’s not smart, but neither is avoiding the dentist for years at a time, and we know people with dental anxiety do that all the time. They risk major health consequences (like stroke), but their fear is stronger than reason.

Don’t let fear get the better of you. If you are suffering from dental anxiety, sedation dentistry can help calm you so you can get the dental care you need. You won’t have to go to prison, and we can keep our office furniture and carpet, which is good because we really like it. You should see it.

If you want help overcoming your dental anxiety, please call 310-275-5325 for an appointment with a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist at Ravon Knopf.

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