Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Is the Dentist Ripping Me Off?

Let me start this post by saying that I have horrible luck with dentists in general. I have switched dentists a few times for various reasons, here are the top few reasons that I hate dentists:
  1. After college, I got a job and some health insurance so I could finally go to the dentist again after skipping it for roughly 5 years. They must have seen that it said sucker on my head and told me that I had to have a ton of work done and proceeded to fill my mouth with drills and my teeth with fillings. I got a huge bill for that and was just mad about the price and switched dentists on principal. The dentist that I switched to asked why I had so many fillings so I told him the story above. He said that most of them were not worth getting filled, they would have just placed a watch on them to make sure that they didn't get worse. Imagine how angry I was that I could have saved a ton of money and saved myself all the suffering.
  2. One dentist just had really disgusting hands and I couldn't take the thought of them touching my mouth, so I switched.
  3. I had started feeling a lot of pain in my jaw and cheeks one weekend that was so bad that I actually went to the doctors. He said that he couldn't find anything wrong and told me to check with my dentist to see if something was wrong with my teeth (it hurt in different places than I usually think teeth hurt, so I didn't think of this). The dentist told me that the pain was my wisdom teeth coming in. So, he scheduled me for an appointment to take out all four at the same time. No prob, I thought, I would be so drugged that I wouldn't feel a thing. WRONG! This was probably the most pain that I have been in overall (I will admit that I have a very low tolerance for pain...but this really hurt). The first tooth came out pretty much no problem (I thought that it was bad at first, but looking back and comparing it to the second one, it slid right out of there). The second one refused to come out of my mouth...he was pulling so hard that my head was being jerked around. Talk about pain. He eventually had to take some tools and chip away as much of the tooth as he could and I think that he just left some of it in there. Needless to say, this process took hours and there was no way that I could get the other two teeth pulled. So, I still have those to look forward to someday. Awesome!
Those are the building blocks of my fear of dentists. My latest beating came at the beginning of February when I had a routine cleaning scheduled. I went in smiling and happy for my 8 AM appointment (total lie, I never smile before 10) and sat in their torture chair. The hygenist starts poking around in my mouth and recording some random numbers about my teeth. Then she asks the dreaded question..."Do you floss?" I know that she knows the answer to that question, she has seen my teeth and she asks me this every time I see her. The answer is no, I do not floss because I hate it and it is always hard for me to do. She then informs me that I need a deep scale cleaning because I don't floss. They bring me some papers to fill out and I find it will cost me about $250 out of pocket (apparently, insurance doesn't cover this). I am annoyed, but she is the professional, if she says that I need this then I must. More pain for me and a wasted hour later, I am done. Then I get some special mouthwash and get told that I need to come in every 3 months instead of the usual every 6 months. Keep in mind that nothing is wrong yet...this is just precautionary so that I don't get gum disease or something. Of course, insurance isn't going to pay any of those extra visits either, so I will be paying out of pocket for that too.

Fast forward a week later. Mrs. RS is speaking with one of her mouth warrior friends (meaning I have no clue what she does, but it is something in the dental profession) asking about my ordeal. Her friend says that it doesn't sound like she would have recommended having the deep scale cleaning or prescribing the mouthwash (which sucks because it leaves me with no working tastebuds everyday). So now I think that I got taken by my dentist so that they could make a little extra cash off me. Anyone have any similar experiences with doctors or dentists?



Anonymous Phil said...

Insurance companies would probably save a lot of money if they would pay for you to get a second opinion. A market failure.

On the flossing, it gets better. I never flossed until last year. I went to the dentist for the first time in 3 years, and had to get $1500 of work above what was paid by my insurance (including a crown). I bought a SoniCare for $125 and floss 6 out of 7 days. This last time, no cavities, no gum problems. The "deep scaling" is probably a scam, but it's a lot cheaper to prevent problems like that then pay for them to be fixed (steps down from mom soapbox).

2/28/2006 11:12 PM  
Anonymous bjk said...

Awesome, someone else with the same passionate loathing of the dental industry as myself. I never knew! I just went on Monday, and I swear I want to cry like a little girl when I'm sitting in that chair. Everytime, I can't believe I actually make it thru. I hate the dentist like nothing else in this life. I tore my ACL and had to rehab it for 6 months last year, but would gladly do it all again, if you told me I would never have to sit in a dentist's chair again.

I've been trying to floss at night whenever I have crappy food during the day. I figure it'll save me some pain in the chair - I think of it as working out my gums. I probably 'exercise' them 3 or 4 days a week.

3/01/2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger SL said...

i got the deep scale treatment, the mouthwash and i thought the same thing as you. i have a history of having multiple cavaities and sensitive. The mouthwash really helps, and the deep scale cleaning has definitely made my gums healthier. I also floss regularly now (i used to not) and have not gotten any cavaties this year (an accomplishment for me) i still loathe the extra dental appointments BUT i would rather go once extra for a cleaning than for a drilling. Maybe its me, but with my poor dental history and my poor habits, doing all those things actually worked out for me

As far as cost, you can use our HSA flex accounts to pay for it (or for some of it)

OR maybe i have also been getting ripped off by the dentist YOU told me to go to..haha...in which case, its time to find a new dentist

3/01/2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless your wife's friend looked at your teeth, she'd have no idea what you needed done. Time to start flossing!

3/02/2006 3:28 PM  

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