I went to the dentist recently — the first time I’ve been in for a check-up since I was pregnant with Vivienne.
We don’t have dental insurance, because Shane’s employer’s plan is expensive and doesn’t actually cover much. Instead, we bought a discount plan that costs about $130 per year. The catch? We have to go to specific providers.
I looked at the list of available dentists near me, and settled on a company that seems to have a nationwide presence. They advertise heavily and seem to have a volume business model.
I had x-rays and was passed off to the hygenist where she immediately asked if I had trouble with tooth sensitivity.
“Sometimes,” I told her, “when I have ice against my teeth.”
She rummaged through a cabinet and pulled out a tube of toothpaste for me to use. It was $27. For a tube of toothpaste! She went on to say, “You probably spend $5-6 per tube, and it might only last a few weeks. Just use a pea-sized amount out of this tube and it should last you four months.”
Though she wasn’t the best saleswoman, I thought I’d go ahead and buy the tube. Yes, I know. $27. I just have weak spots on my teeth and I’m prone to cavities. I’m also an easy sell, I’m ashamed to admit.
Then, she handed me an electric toothbrush and demonstrated the settings.
“How much do you think something like this might cost?” she asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe $50?” I guessed. She pointed up, looking uncomfortable. “$75?” Up some more.
“It’s normally $200, but we could give you a half-off coupon and you could get it for $99.”
Yay, I could get a toothbrush I didn’t even want for $99! No thanks. I may be an easy sell, but I’m not that easy.
She looked disappointed and then went to work scrubbing my teeth. Roughly. Ow.
The dentist came in and reviewed my x-rays with me. She told me there as a tiny cavity on one tooth, and she wanted to redo a filling. The filling had been giving me trouble, and it was difficult to floss that tooth.
Well. I went back to have those cavities repaired. The dentist said the one cavity was so itty-bitty, she was hesitant to even numb me — the shot would be more uncomfortable than the drill. I said bring it on, and to stop if I yell. I tried to remember some of my Hypnobabies stuff, heh. It was fine and over in a few seconds.
The other side of my mouth — the side that required her to take out a filling involving two teeth and replace it — yowza. She numbed me and the shot hurt quite a bit. After the meds wore off, my jaw ached. I took ibuprofen and had relief. Still, at times I had intense pain on the entire side of my face, radiating all the way to my ear.
I went back to the dentist and she filed the filling down some more in case the bite was too high. She explained that the nerves inside the teeth were inflamed and it can take several weeks for them to totally chill out. Lovely! And seriously, several weeks? Wish I knew that beforehand. Not sure what I would have done differently, but it would have been helpful to know.
It has been about a month from the initial filling and I’ve gone from taking ibuprofen several times daily to once per day or not at all. Kind of ridiculous, but at least it helps get rid of the pain and lets me get on with my day. I haven’t needed it at all today and I’m hopeful it really was an angry nerve instead of something requiring a root canal. I’m not in the mood for that.
I do understand that the office is a business and they exist to make money. I was just uncomfortable with the upselling and the way they seemed to want to squeak more money out of me.
I plan on going somewhere else for my next cleaning.