Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Adventures in Dentistry

OK, so the dental office my insurance covers?


My copay there?

Awesome.  As in, $5.  I will put up with a lot of terrible to get a teeth cleaning for $5.

Hello, I'm Mr. Lincoln.  I will be your dentist today.

And believe me, I have.  I've had a 10:00 appointment, only to finally get in the chair around 12:30, only to be told we needed to reschedule because my hygienist had gone to lunch.  Pitched a fit, different hygienist squeezed me in, and I insisted I only be put with her from that point on (didn't happen).

I've been told my teeth are "weird."  I've been called in between appointments to see if I wanted that crown we talked about.  Apparently my large filling should be a crown, and it should be a crown yesterday. I've had the hygienist complain that I have wisdom teeth, because, whine,  "they're so hard to floooossss".

(My husband can't stand the place and hasn't been back.  My kids go elsewhere because they should grow up liking the dentist as much as possible.)

But I can have a bad day once every six months, because....CHEAP. I can put up with waiting if it saves me hundreds of dollars.

Last time I went in, it was beyond my ability to "suck it up for the savings."

I had the cleaning, (different hygienist). I had the x-rays.  Then the doctor walked in.  It was a different dentist than I had seen before, but this is one of the practices that just puts you with whomever, continuity of care be damned. (The turnover is also high.  I don't think people like working there any more than patients like going there).  He started spouting off tooth numbers that were bad. I was told I had multiple cavities.  That crown was urgently needed, and the fact that I didn't have it done yet is bordering on negligent.  One of the bad cavities was in my wisdom tooth, and there was really no reason to fill that, because "you don't want to put any money in your wisdom teeth, do you?' and was told I needed those out stat.  He started recommending oral surgeons. By the time he was done, my mouth was in dire straits, and this was going to take a village to fix.

Hint: Do not Google image "bad teeth."  

Embarrassingly, my eyes welled up a little.  Still, I found my voice. "Six months ago, everything was fine. You do not go from fine to major problems in six months."

He looked at me, seemed surprised that I was upset at all, and said "Look, it's your choice as to what to do here.  You can choose to do nothing, but these are the problems I have diagnosed.  These are DIAGNOSABLE problems (he was just the dental Dr. House, I guess).  It's just ridiculous that you have wisdom teeth, there's no reason at all to have them, etc. etc."

He walked out.  While I was still in the chair trying to grasp this, the hygienist handed me a coupon for $50 off your next dental service, and said "Did you want to schedule that surgery now, Heidi?"

Surgery. With Type 1. No. No, I did not.

I walked out to the checkout station, and she printed off no less than 4 "stages" of work I needed done, and which thing I should do first, wisdom teeth, etc. and then she took one look at me, with my fighting back of emotions, and said "Let's just schedule your next cleaning. You can take some time to think about what you want to do."

OK.  Let's do that.  But I can guarantee you I'm not going to keep that appointment.  I paid my $5 and got out of there. I might have cried a little in my car.  Not telling.

That was in September.  I did nothing about my teeth, except worry and ask dental friends what they thought of wisdom teeth. In March a reminder email showed up.  I clicked that I would not be there, they called, and I told them I was never coming back.  Still, I wondered.  Maybe I was screwing myself over.  I do have diabetes.  I do eat candy in the middle of the night and don't brush afterwards.  My sugars do go high, and that's got to be affecting things.  I do drink diet soda by the gallon.  Maybe I desperately needed that crown.  Maybe I had cavities that were getting worse by the minute.  Maybe I now had a new thing to get all "anxiety girl" over.

So I finally called my kid's dentist and scheduled an appointment for me.  I walked in, explained how another dentist had found issues, but I needed someone I could trust, and hoped for the best.  I was worried that this was going to be pricey, and I had just made everything worse by waiting.

No cavities.  Let me repeat that.  NO CAVITIES. That tooth that needed a crown?  Yes, eventually it will need it, but they're not even going to put in on a watch list yet, because it's very stable.  It'll likely be years before it's necessary. My wisdom teeth?  Look great, no there's not a big cavity in one, why would I think that? - and there's plenty of room.  They're just like any other tooth, and I can keep them as long as I want.

Both the dentist and hygienist were like "Your teeth look great.  Just keep doing what you're doing."

And I said "I drink a lot of diet soda.  That must be it."

Then they laughed, out loud, for a long time.  Oh yeah, diet soda is the way to go when it comes to teeth.  Of course. (They don't really believe that, just in case you were wondering).


Did I want to schedule another appointment?

Yes.  Yes I do.  Some things are worth more than $5.

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