While it’s still fresh in my mind or rather in my..mouth, I thought I would discuss Dentistry today. Last week, I had a tooth of mine chip a little bit. It’s had something of a hole in it for some time but I didn’t have insurance, and when I got insurance I was so used to the hole that I continued to ignore it. The real kicker here is that there was never any pain so I figured it wasn’t that big of a problem.
After the chip last week, I decided I’d better get to the dentist soon. After calling a dozen booked dentists, I found one that could get me in that day. There was still no pain.
The dentist looked in my mouth and exclaimed, “Whoa!”…that made me really comfortable. He was astonished I hadn’t had any pain, removed the cavity and found that the cavity had nicked the nerve canal allowing bacteria to infect the nerves. I was told I would need a root canal, and the dentist got started. He did a partial root canal and sent me to an endodontic specialist.
That’s about where I am now. I’m still waiting to get back into the original dentist to do part 3 of 4 of the procedure and then will have to wait another week or so to get back in for the final portion of the procedure.
Here’s what I learned so far…
- Get the details!
- Shop around!
- Ask about alternatives
- Cosmetic vs Health
I can’t stress this enough! Dentistry is really expensive. I haven’t been to the dentist much and have never had any major work done till now but I was baffled when I got the cost, even with insurance covering at least half of the procedure. The dentist told me if the nerve canal had not been breached, they could have just put a filling and been done with it. That would have cost far less, in both money and pain, than what I am currently experiencing. Regular checkups can prevent things getting this bad and save you a ton of money.
Don’t just blindly take the price given to you and walk away, especially if you have insurance. Insurance can put a blinder on you when you have to pay for things, but they don’t cover everything. It’s best to find out exactly what the cost will be, total and remainder after the insurance is through paying. Get a detailed estimate of the work needed.
Just like any other cost, shop around to find the best price. I haven’t been to any dentist in 5 years, so I have no emotional ties to any of them at this point. After finding out exactly what I would need to finish this little journey of pain (after the expensive endodontic treatment which was required because the tooth is a molar), I called a few dentist and even though they are both preferred providers for my insurance, the cost was very different! One dentist told me that the cost would be over $1000 but as a preferred provider for my insurance, they write off a portion of the cost, and then bill the insurance so my cost would come to around $300. The other dentist quoted me a total of $800, but my cost was estimated closer to $400. The whole field is very unregulated, so make sure you check multiple dentist.
Many procedures have alternative methods to solve the problem. Unfortunately for me, the alternative to a root canal is extraction, which is much more painful, inconvenient and expensive. For other procedures, you may be happy you asked because you can save money, time and pain.
Sometimes a procedure may be recommended but it really is only for cosmetics. Talk about other options with your dentist as well as if the procedure is really necessary. When asking about extraction for my tooth, they told me I would have to have something put in in place of the tooth but in reality, that’s mostly cosmetic. Some dentists will tell you that without a tooth, your teeth will shift but others deny this as an absolute truth.
One more thing to consider. In different areas of the country, dentistry operates differently. In California, one dentist would have done the entire procedure for this root canal, regardless of the tooth. It would have taken much longer, the one appointment, but would have been over in one or at most, two visits. Here in Utah, I guess they found better recovery and success if after each part of the procedure the patient was given time to recover. I’m not sure if I agree, because I would rather be able to eat solid foods after a week, rather than the four+ I will be going through until my work is all done.
So there you have it. Please take my nearly $2,000 lesson and apply it in your own life so you don’t have to experience this yourself!