How Available is your dentist for dental emergencies during regular office hours??

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Posted 2/19/2013 by SweetieBugs in NSBR Board


PeaNut 56,437
November 2002
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:03:35 PM
I am a little steamed but this probably isn't different from most dentist perhaps. My DD complained over the weekend of a painful gum. I looked at it and didn't see anything. Today again she mentioned it and said it really hurt.

So, I called the office and explained the problem and asked for an appointment. She offered me 10 a.m. tomorrow or 11:30 on Thursday. That is great that I would be able to get her in so quick but she is a HS student and is very against missing school time (those times are during math class). I asked for an appointment after 3:15 and she said it would be 4 months until I could get an appointment at that time. I hesitated for a few moments and then said that that wouldn't really work for us and I would probably need to call another dentist (my DH and I use a different one we've been thinking about using for the kids too but just haven't made the switch yet). She just replied back that we would have to wait that long if we needed an afternoon appointment. I said I would need to call back. I looked in my DD's mouth and finally saw how swollen her jaw is toward the last tooth and realized she needed to go in ASAP. So, she will be missing school tomorrow and my DH will take the morning off to take her.

I just feel that the response was pretty inflexible (and I do realize that I am being just an inflexible). However, I have had dentists before that were very understanding of these types of emergencies and understood how important our schedule is as well and willing to work around that when at all possible.


PeaNut 370,119
April 2008
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:11:10 PM
I find this more and more also. I thought they used to leave a couple appointments open just for emergencies.


PeaNut 434,313
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:12:14 PM
They did offer you a fast appointment. It isn't their fault dd or you don't like the times offered.

Emergency doesn't mean on your time. Emergency just means first available.

I'm sure if she had an active emergency like an actual abscess they would have squeezed her in today but what your describing isn't really a dentist emergency yet.

But to directly answer your question my dentist would have done the same. I had a molar break in half with no pain all the way to the gum. They got me in next day at 11a. I had a tooth break on the other side with an abscess and they squeezed me in first available that day. I think that one was at 1.

Both of mine broke from wisdom tooth pressure. I didn't get to "pick" times on either circumstance.

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PeaNut 387,904
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:17:39 PM
We are very lucky that our Dentist will squeeze us in, usually the same day, when a dental emergency comes up.

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PeaNut 60,761
January 2003
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:20:18 PM
I've never experienced a dental emergency myself, but, based on conversations I've overheard in the office they do squeeze in people who have emergencies.

I also think that if it is truly an emergency, you'll take whatever time you can get. The after school slots are the most popular slots and I doubt that most dentists want to leave them open just in case. That's what the morning slots were for.


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PeaNut 38,100
May 2002
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:20:31 PM
This JUST happened to us.

Dd fell in school and broke TWO teeth. They tried to tell me they were booked for the afternoon. Um, too damn bad. Sometimes ya gotta stay late at work. "Well, is she in much pain?" You know, the same people with ads all over for cosmetic bleaching and stuff now think it's OK that my 9 year old looks like the right-wing defenseman for the Flyers. I told them that my daughter was going to be seen that afternoon, and asked for a list of dentists they partnered with for emergencies. They found an appointment for us.

I was dismayed, though, and thanks for reminding me - I should mention something to the office manager or the dentist. I know they have to be protective of the book, but that was still not an acceptable response, imo.

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PeaNut 275,594
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:22:50 PM
My dentist & his staff know my extreme anxiety. Thankfully I've only had a few emergencies but was seen immediately.

I think your dentist was accommodating with your request. Unfortunately, it wasn't in your preferred timeline.


PeaNut 100,223
August 2003
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:25:44 PM
They got you in right away, it just didn't work with your schedule ... So I don't see myself being upset over it.

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PeaNut 107,627
September 2003
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:27:00 PM
My thought is if you are in pain and they are offering any appointment same day or early the next day, you take it. If you aren't happy with what they are offering go to another doctor.

pl. e·mer·gen·cies

A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action.
A condition of urgent need for action or assistance: a state of emergency.

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PeaNut 159,334
July 2004
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:29:22 PM
When dd was 4 she fell on a concrete sidewalk directly on to her face. She was running and tripped, and was a bloody mess. I couldn't tell where exactly the blood was coming from, but I called our dentist and he saw her immediately. That's the only emergency situation we've had.

But, I've had a few fillings replaced, and when the Novocain wore off and they were not hitting right, he's had me come right in to fix it.

I understand that you don't want your DD to miss school, but if she were ill, wouldn't you take her to the doctor during school hours? Why is this different?


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PeaNut 25,620
December 2001
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:29:43 PM
Ours will get us in as soon as possible, depending on the emergency. He has said come right in, or scheduled that day or the next. Your's did offer a reasonable appt. You were unreasonable in your expectations. An emergency is just that and you should be thankful he was willing to fit you in.

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PeaNut 506,197
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:30:08 PM

They did offer you a fast appointment. It isn't their fault dd or you don't like the times offered.


If it's truly an emergency, you'll take the first available appt.

You're the one being unreasonable.


PeaNut 399,301
November 2008
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:30:56 PM
Our dentist is as available as possible.

Yours gave you the option of being seen very quickly, which you declined because you obviously didn't feel the situation was enough of an emergency to warrant having your daughter miss school.

What did you want your dentist to do? Cancel an appointment with another patient to see your daughter?

I think you're being inflexible here. The dentist's office was able to get you in less than 24 hours after you contacted them - I think that's quite reasonable.


PeaNut 134,862
March 2004
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:53:32 PM
My 11 year old DS broke his 2 front teeth in phys ed. One was about 60% gone, the other 25%.

DS was sitting in the dentist's chair 45 mins later. I heard the reception staff call the next appointments to let them know they were running behind due to an emergency.

I was told the quicker they can cover up the exposed nerve, the better chance a root canal won't be needed. So I am very pleased.

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PeaNut 265,707
June 2006
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Posted: 2/19/2013 7:54:56 PM

I would EXPECT to be seen within about 24 hours, less in some circumstances. My dentist would be able to do this - they came in on a Sunday to care for my dad in an emergency situation. And he wasn't even a patient of theirs at the time. I paid a fee for the off hours service but was more than glad to do so.

It would be NICE if they said, in the circumstance of the OP, "You could come in after the last patient and be the final patient of the day, so that your daughter wouldn't miss school." - but it isn't always that simple. The assistant and hygienist might have kids to pick up or be subject to other commitments themselves. Emergencies come up every day for them. It may not be feasible for them to stay late whenever there is an emergency. I would not be upset at all if they could not accommodate my scheduling needs, but I would be extra impressed if they could.


PeaNut 427,403
June 2009
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Posted: 2/19/2013 8:26:32 PM
If it really was that much of an emergency you should have taken one of the appointments they offered. It can't be all that bad if you don't need to be as soon as possible, just when it is convenient for you.


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PeaNut 9,019
January 2001
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Loc: michigan

Posted: 2/19/2013 8:35:30 PM
what you described is *not* an actual dental emergency. If it were a true emergency, you would have taken the first time available.

Most likely, if your daughter is in high school, she is feeling some pain/pressure from a wisdom tooth. Nothing more than an antibiotic for any infection, pain meds and a referral to an oral surgeon for evaluation for extraction.



PeaNut 39,382
May 2002
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Posted: 2/19/2013 8:51:59 PM
My dental office is interesting. He has three hygienist cleaning teeth while he has two rooms to himself. One room is for planned dental work with him, the other is for emergencies. Cleaning appts with the hygienist where he simply double checks for problems, you are out within the hour. If you are there strictly to see him, appointment or emergency, plan on 2-5 hours. No kidding!


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 174,400
October 2004
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Posted: 2/19/2013 8:53:27 PM
i think that if it is an emergency, you go when they can fit you in, not when it is convenient for you.

if you can only go at the convenient time, then it is not really an emergency.


PeaNut 274,252
August 2006
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Posted: 2/19/2013 9:21:05 PM
I take what the dentist offers in that type of situation.i usually call when they open and they usually have me come in right away. I have had a few emergencies with my kids and he's been great. Once he was in vacation and the office was closed. I called the emergency number and they had me bring my son in and the dentist came in because he was still in town. My son ended up having a cyst where one of his wisdom teeth was supposed to be and it got infected. An hour later we were meeting with the oral surgeon. I wouldn't expect an afternoon appt in an emergent situation because I want them seen ASAP. Sometimes school be damned. That's life. My DS is in HS too but his health is more important than a math class that he can make up.


Slow Poke Pea

PeaNut 857
June 1999
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Loc: Central Florida

Posted: 2/19/2013 9:36:47 PM
I have to agree that I think your dentist was pretty accommodating to be able to offer you a next day appointment, especially right after a holiday weekend.

Why should the dentist be willing to be inconvenienced if you (who has the emergency) isn't willing to be inconvenienced?


Slow Poke Pea

PeaNut 857
June 1999
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Posted: 2/19/2013 9:41:24 PM
And I should say that whenever we've had a true dental emergency (thankfully they've been very few), they've gotten us in immediately, but they were the kind of emergency where we dropped what we were doing to go straight to the dentist.



PeaNut 503,375
March 2011
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Posted: 2/19/2013 10:18:17 PM
I think your dentist's office was completely responsive and appropriate, and you are in the wrong.

If its an emergency, you happily take the time you are offered. They offered you two options within 24 hours. Thumbs up!

That said, my dentist will see me quickly for an emergency. And if he can't, I've gone to see his brother who is also a dentist! Both have been super accommodating, but my dentist is also an old family friend... I'm sure that helps.

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PeaNut 509,811
May 2011
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Posted: 2/19/2013 10:33:11 PM
It sounds like its not an emergency but some gum discomfort, and they did offer you an immediate appt / you didn't want it.

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PeaNut 78,429
March 2003
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Posted: 2/19/2013 10:55:36 PM
I call mine and she always gets me right in, no waiting. LOVE my dentist, I even stayed when my insurance changed and it costs me a little more to see her. LOVE Dr. Jackie and my hygienist and the entire staff.


PeaNut 18,334
July 2001
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Posted: 2/19/2013 11:57:34 PM
I hesitated for a few moments and then said that that wouldn't really work for us >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

It wouldn't work for you because it wasn't as big an emergency as you want to make it out to be in your mind. Had it been a true emergency you would have told dd to drop everything and take the first available appointment. Or looked for a dentist who could see her sooner than the first appointment offered, not later than the first appointment offered.

For emergencies my dentist is available on an almost walk in basis to at least get you evaluated and comfortable.

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PeaNut 21,316
September 2001
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Posted: 2/20/2013 2:00:50 AM
We haven't had too many dental emergencies, but when something has come up, the dentist has always been able to see us on the same day. The only time I had to say, "that won't work for us" is when we were offered an appointment in fifteen minutes and we were half an hour away from the office.

There have been times when I have called the doctor's office later in the day when one of my kids has been sick, and the receptionist has tried to give me an appointment later the next day. If my kid was really, really sick, all I would have to say is, "I think he really needs to be seen today," and the office would make or find an appointment.

Offices take clues from the patient. Based on your initial description of an emergency, the office offered you a quick appointment. When you hemmed and hawed, it led the office staff to believe that this isn't an emergency.

I understand kids not wanting to miss school. My youngest is a senior this year, and there have been times when I have told him that he CANNOT go to school because he is running a high fever. He has had a teacher tell him to go home and go to bed, too. I often take him to the after-hours clinic because I know he won't want to miss school or cross country/track practice, and that doesn't mesh with our GP's office hours.

I don't think there is anything to be steamed about with this dentist.

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PeaNut 52,709
October 2002
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Posted: 2/20/2013 5:30:10 AM
I live in the burbs of Toronto, Canada's largest city ... and found out that the only after hours emergency option for my son was right downtown to Sick Kids Hospital.

Thankfully our emergency happened @ 6:59 and the dentist's office closed at 7:00. I called and the dentist waited for us to get there ....

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PeaNut 294,285
January 2007
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Posted: 2/20/2013 8:01:53 AM
They offered you a next day appointment! You were inflexible. I think they did just fine.

Our dentist's office arranged a visit on Independence Day for DH when he had an emergency.



PeaNut 66,309
February 2003
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Posted: 2/20/2013 8:18:46 AM
Your daughter didn't want to miss school time because it had a high value for her.

Imagine the cost of a dental office just 'waiting' for an emergency to come up to fill an appointment at 3:15. Every day? Even saying $100 an hour, that's $500 a week that they're HOPING to fill with someone having an emergency. That's a pretty high value for an emergency time that's convenient for you.

It doesn't really work that way....they hold an hour and everyone sits around waiting for a blood gusher to walk in the door, but dh's office is super busy after school. Emergencies are fit in during the regular part of the day if possible. Late morning is usually a pretty good fit.

If a kid gets injured at practice and the coach drives him to the office (or a parent or the kid itself), dh is most definitely going to stay and take care of it. That is considered an immediate emergency. Coming in after you've put in a full day at the office (or at school) and saying that you have an emergency is a little different issue.


PeaNut 472,567
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Posted: 2/20/2013 8:34:33 AM
If it was a "dental emergency" then I am not sure why your daughter would be so opposed to missing school.

My dentist is booked solid especially for when school is out.


PeaNut 335,105
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Posted: 2/20/2013 8:38:53 AM
After school hours are the times when most dentists are booked for children's cleanings and orthodontic work like elastic changes etc.
Most do accommodate school hours that way. Emergencies are just that, you take what is available. Next morning? Lucky, I would be thanking them for the appointment. If it was a medical emergency would you take her out of school for the ER?

little mama

PeaNut 51,555
October 2002
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Posted: 2/20/2013 12:12:41 PM
I think their point is, if it is truly an emergency, you will take whatever appt they have free. I doubt they leave time for emergencies during "prime time", which to me would be any time after about 245.

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PeaNut 178,513
November 2004
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Posted: 2/20/2013 12:21:07 PM

If it's truly an emergency, you'll take the first available appt.

You're the one being unreasonable.


I'm not sure why you think they are not being accommodating, considering they gave you TWO appt options within 24 hours....?


PeaNut 491,305
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Posted: 2/20/2013 12:44:27 PM
My dental office keeps emergency hours open from 12-2pm Mon-Thursday. Emergency IS an emergency, when it comes to dental work. If she was truly having an emergency, you'd go at the times offered, TRUST ME. I've had two teeth that needed emergency root canals - it hurts like nothing else -- I've heard it's the worst pain you can experience and in my personal experience IT IS.

12-2 are not "work friendly" hours for me -- but when you're in that much pain, YOU GO.

You take what you they give you. If she was in that much pain, trust me, she'd say screw the math class and she'd go to the dentist. It doesn't sound like a true dental emergency TBH...

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 87,597
May 2003
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Posted: 2/20/2013 12:52:07 PM
Our dentist does try to get you in. It sounds like yours does too though. I thought maybe you were upset that you didn't get in same day (understandable if it's an emergency). But it sounds like you were more upset that they couldn't get you in after 3:00. I would have just taken the earlier time and had my child miss math.

I understand not wanting them to miss a high school class. I have a 10th grader in all honors classes and she doesn't like to miss either. But with a dental emergency, I would have her miss the math class.

I hope she feels better!

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 198,401
March 2005
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Posted: 2/20/2013 12:53:35 PM
I think that if it is an emergency, you go in when they have the availability as that is when they have appointments open.

IF I booked my appointment six months in advance, (which I usually do), I don't think it is fair for you to demand an afternoon appointment for an emergency when they have something available in the am, otherwise, it clearly is not an emergency than, is it?

Running the Marathon, Not the Sprint

PeaNut 110,589
October 2003
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Loc: Texas

Posted: 2/20/2013 3:11:55 PM
If you are looking for a "preferred schedule" emergency visit, then I wouldn't consider the situation an emergency.


PeaNut 308,331
April 2007
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Posted: 2/20/2013 4:17:17 PM
my dentist is a friend & her husband is a dr. They come over if there's an emergency

Actually, I've only pulled the friend card twice: once I was sick sick & couldn't drive, the 2nd was I needed a quick sports physical for my son


PeaNut 11,889
March 2001
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Loc: Alaska

Posted: 2/20/2013 4:49:54 PM
I broke a molar in half on Saturday and waited all weekend to call. I called Monday morning at 8:30 and had an appointment at 10:00 and was done by 11:00.

He is a very busy dentist and a lot of times for a regular appointment he is booked 3 to 4 weeks out. I was so thankful that I got in. I just love my dentist!!

My husband uses another dentist and they keep open a couple spots a day just for emergencies.


PeaNut 283,593
November 2006
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Loc: danville, illinois

Posted: 2/20/2013 5:44:59 PM
If it was a true emergency then I would have taken the offered appt time.

However, if you said on the phone you looked in her mouth etc and didnt see anything then the receptionist probably thinks doesnt sound like emergency to me or since they arent aware of what the problem is then they dont know how much time you are going to need for the appt versus if you called and said my daughter broke her tooth...


PeaNut 54,471
November 2002
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Posted: 2/20/2013 8:00:46 PM
Mine is great. A couple of years ago I was hosting Bunco one evening. About 2 pm that day a crown came off. i called our dentist, he got me in right away and bunco went on as planned!

We have been going to the same dentist for 20 years.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 31,617
March 2002
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Loc: southern new mexico

Posted: 2/20/2013 8:03:39 PM
If it was really an emergency, you would take the first offered appointment, school or no school.

My dentist always gets us in same day; thankfully, we've only needed it twice. One time he even extended the office hours since we called after lunch.

ETA: I forgot about the one time when my tooth (temporary crown after root canal; awaiting final crown from la broke below the gum line in the middle of my night shift at work! That was the worst pain I've ever had, including natural childbirth! I called the dentist at 5 a.m. and he told me "meet me at the office immediately after your shift ends" he met me at the office at 7:15 a.m., when office hours started at 9. I had the tooth pulled later that same day.

Marilyn (now in New Mexico!!)
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PeaNut 274,243
August 2006
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Posted: 2/21/2013 12:27:47 AM
You had an emergency. They offered you a time. If it is an emergency, you should take one of those spots. I have worked in a dental office. After 3 is the most sought after time for kids and teachers. In our office, that time would be booked solid as well. Our dentist sets aside emergency time, one block in the morning, one right after lunch. If there are no emergencies, his schedule is empty and he makes no revenue for those time slots. It sounds to me that they were being responsive to you, I wouldn't be upset at all.

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