Teeth aren’t Cheap.

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I just “organized” coupons and for all the money I save doing that it feels entirely futile after paying an enormous dental bill. Today’s post is the sad little story about a stupid tooth.
I have been a bad girl when it comes to my teeth. Not like I don’t brush them or floss–on the contrary, I am actually pretty anal about that. I brush my teeth like 3-4 times a day, floss, and occasionally use flouride rinse. So how have I been bad?
Well, I’ve avoided the dentist like the plague for the last five years. The reasons are endless.
First off, I hate going to the dentist. In my book, its right up there with the DMV.
Second, I haven’t had dental insurance. This is also my own fault. I could easily get it, for pretty cheap too, I just never took the initiative to fill out the paper work and get myself squared away.
The third problem is I can always think of something better to do than go to the dentist–like school, or grocery shopping, or sleeping in, or organizing the pantry, or—just about anything, actually can be more important, more pressing than going to the dentist.
That is, until you bite into a bacon-avocado sandwich and you swallow a piece of tooth the size of a grain of barley.
Kinda. Yah, that’s pretty much what happened.
Last sunday, Matt and I were sharing lunch and all of a sudden I felt my back molar disintegrate.
My eyes got all Little Rascals wide and Matt of course thought that my water broke or something. I cried. I felt so gross that one of MY teeth would be so rotten that it would just snap like that. What the heck?! It was an epic-low for me to drive home from Sacramento feeling this now crater-like cavern jagging into the side of my tongue.
Needless to say, we had to find a dentist. We googled it and found a practice here in Davis that seemed legit. Of course we don’t have insurance–and after researching it I find out it would only cost me $80 to get pretty good coverage for a whole year. Free xrays, cheap cleanings, and most importantly, a heavily discounted crown–which is what I most likely would need. But of course, I missed the deadline by a week and the soonest I can be covered is October. Grrrr.
If you’re still reading this, you are very nice. I’m realizing how profoundly boring this would be if someone were sitting across a table at Starbucks relaying this story. I’d be thinking, “Why do you assume that I am even remotely interested in your mundane insurance problems?” Well, maybe I’d think that—depends on who it was.
Anyways, I went to the dentist.
Dentists can be like auto-repair men. You go into Jiffy Lube and all you want is a simple oil change. But no, they will not just settle for that. No no no. They need to tighten this, replace that, pump this up, clean that (notice I don’t even have the basic knowledge about my own car to fill in the “this and that”?).
Well, dentists can be the same way. You can go in for a simple cleaning and maybe a filling and walk away feeling like your mouth is a gold mine for that lousy guy. Fortunately, I did not encounter such a dentist here.
Dr. Johnson happens to be very nice. Thank God! He even lived in Solano Park as a graduate student–makes me feel good knowing he comes from the same penny-pinching background, no matter how far back in the past that might be. So he xrayed me–once–and yah, the damage was pretty bad.
He scheduled me right away for the following afternoon to get a filling. I actually need a crown, but that would cost me $1350 out of pocket–no payment plans available. He agreed that the best thing would be to fill it up and then when I have my insurance come back and finish it up. Phew!
But let me tell you: dental work when you are nine months pregnant is NOT a good idea. Holy cow. I should have thought it through and at least mentally prepared myself for the ordeal. First of all, getting leaned backwards at a 90 degree angle when you have 40 pounds (yes, its 40–confession) of baby weight sitting in front must feel a lot like what a piggy bank feels like when you shake it upside down.
Thud! Chaucer meets lungs meets esophagus meets throat. Not a fun feeling.
And then—they put a “rubber dam” over my tongue. Oh Lord have mercy. If you don’t know what that is its where they take a piece of rubber, lay it across your tongue and up against the back of your throat, and then floss it into your teeth so that all the spit just slides backwards instead of getting all kiddy-pool like in your mouth. Clockwork Orange, Silence of the Lambs, Saw–thats the kind of film that this particular type of torture belongs. Horrid.
The dentist and his assistant were very nice and kept checking to make sure I was ok. Eventually I had that sensation you get right before puking and I signaled that I needed to sit up. Eww. The thought of puking and having the “dam” block it—wow. That would be incredibly awful. The procedure lasted about an hour and when it was over I felt pretty terrible–both from the physical ordeal and the financial one. $390. Yep. Good thing we have that savings account–wait, what? Oh yah, we don’t have one. So September will be a tighter month than we thought. Sigh.
Why did I post my sad story about my stupid tooth? Well, its one of those “I hope this helps you avoid this” kind of posts. I hope you have dental insurance. If you don’t, get it. I hope you have a savings account. If you don’t, make one. And if you’re one of those people like a particular brother of mine who don’t take care of your teeth AT ALL and NEVER HAVE ANY CAVITIES OR PROBLEMS *ahem* well, don’t ever let me know.
The ironic part about all this was I was planning on getting dental insurance and going for a big checkup after I deliver Chaucer. We’ve also been trying to work out a budget and do better financially. Wooooops. As it is, we are brainstorming, praying, and trusting that everything will work out. I’ll keep you posted. Take care of those pearly whites, folks. Geez louise they are an expensive necessity.
And, to end on a positive note–it could always be worse. I could be this guy. Every dentist should have this as a poster in their office. Skip the inspirational landscape scenes. If I were a negligent 10 year old and saw this up there I would vow to brush every hour. Food for thought for you aspiring dentists.

2 thoughts on “Teeth aren’t Cheap.

  1. Margo

    That has got to be the most disgusting picture I’ve seen in a long time. I opened your blog on my email and that picture was at the top of your blog. I almost gagged… and then I read your blog and couldn’t stop laughing (sorry Hill!) I remember NOT going to the dentist during the years I was prego or nursing (like 10 years) and then when I finally went – same reaction. I vowed I’d go every 6 months like clockwork to avoid the pain and discomfort and $ I went through the first time. But you’re right – that’s the picture they should put in the waiting room… it would put a little healthy fear in all of those 10 year old boys who never want to brush!

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