Good News From the Discount Dentist

Last week, I went to my old dentist. There was nothing wrong with my teeth. The only reason for my visit was because my bite guard broke in one spot. It didn’t hurt, it just had a hole in it. Plus, I knew it had been some time (two and a half years) since I’d been to see him.

The last time I saw him, two and a half years ago, he completed $3,000 worth of work. What happened that time was that I chipped my front tooth, again. The first time I chipped my front tooth, I was having a heated discussion (let’s just call it an “argument” because that is what it was) with my dear Mr. Demonic, and a bit of it chipped off as I was clenching my teeth. The very last time, I had been chewing on a bone (see this post) and another large bit of enamel came off with the pork chop.

When I saw him, he talked me into getting veneers, to cover up the raggedy edges. He sold them to me as a necessary item, not a cosmetic item. (Although, I must say, my teeth were in pretty sad shape. They needed some cosmetics.) Originally, he had wanted me to get eight teeth done. I noted the price and said no thanks, I’ll just get the top four. (Thus, $3,000. Otherwise, it would be double that.)

I have to say that I was pleased with the job done, but it hurt the pocketbook, nonetheless. My husband, the Tightwad known as Mr. D, does not provide us with dental insurance. Meaning, we pay cash. When he saw the bill for my veneers, he about had a cow right there in the living room. “THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS! IS YOUR MOUTH WORTH THAT?” Obviously, he can mightily argue against that theory.

Why do I tell you this story? Because this is the main reason why I didn’t go back to the dentist. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have a washtub full of twenty dollar bills buried in the back yard. The other reason I didn’t go back is that I hate going to the dentist. Absolutely. I like(d) my dentist, but I’d rather pick up dog shit all day than go to the dentist. I’d rather roam naked in an ill-fitting hospital gown on Main Street than go to the dentist. I’d rather shave off what’s left of my hair than go to the dentist.

So last week, when I went to the dentist, he chided me for not coming in sooner. Then he said that I needed a Very Deep Cleaning, which meant two hours in the chair and antibiotics for the “gum” disease he thought I had. Then he said this: “$850.” When I recovered from that, I heard him say “Two new crowns.” Cha-ching. I heard the cash register ring up another $2,000.

As I related to my friends elsewhere, at this moment, I almost burst into tears. I know I was a bad girl, not going to get my teeth cleaned on a regular basis. I should be flogged. Chastised. But robbed?

Then I thought, oh no! Maybe I’ll die from my gum disease. I was depressed and petrified for the rest of the day.

After some discussion with Mr. Demonic (and others), and after I had calmed down, I decided to contact a couple of other dentists for a second opinion. And I asked around to see which dentists my acquaintances were using.

Yesterday, I went to a place called “Superteeth” which was recommended by one of my employees. It’s open 7 days a week, and she said very inexpensive. I got my teeth cleaned by a very nice and seemingly competent dentist. I related my prior week’s experience to the dentist. He didn’t want to know the name of the place, so I didn’t tell him.

Dr. B: You mean they didn’t give you a free cleaning? You’ve got a lot of work in this mouth. Very nice. I would have thrown in a free cleaning.

Me: Free cleaning!? They were going to charge me $850!

Dr. B [falling off stool]: For what? (Hygienist looks incredulous.) They didn’t clean this?

Me: They said I had gum disease. They couldn’t do the regular cleaning.

Dr. B: Well, you haven’t had your teeth cleaned in a while. There’s some plaque, but considering how long it’s been, it’s not bad.

Me: What about antibiotics? Do I need them?

Dr. B [almost laughing]: If your gums were bleeding, I might consider it. But they aren’t doing too bad.

Me: Wow! I’m telling all my peeps to come here!

Dr. B [shakes hand]: You’re welcome.

The bill?

It came to $99.

That drive home felt really good.

I don’t have to tell you that Mr. Demonic was pleased as punch.

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12 Responses

  1. I once had a dentist like that first one– swore up and down I needed a special toothbrush, special mouth rinse (both items for sale in his office!), and treatment for periodontal disease. So I went to another dentist, and lo, no disease, no special toothbrush, just a cleaning and a stern admonishment to floss more.

    Glad you got out with your wallet intact!

  2. No kidding.

    I might write to the corporate office of the first dentist, just to complain. They’ve taken many thousands of dollars from me over the years. Now I wonder just how many of those treatments were real and how many were conjured out of thin air.

  3. I’m too busy killing squirrels and bunnies at the moment, but I do have some dentist stories which I will tell on my blog one of these days. They fall under the categories of the city dentist and the country dentist. They are very different, but they are both fine.

  4. Aw man! I just forked over $850 at my dentists office! (Of course, I’m dealing with major crown crapola and I haven’t even begun to fix what they did to me in Mexico!) I live in Houston…how far to the nearest Superteeth?

  5. I paid a gazillion dollars to the dentist fairly recently, but since I’m pretty sure I hadn’t been in somewhere between five and ten years, and my gums WERE bleeding, I’m good with it. I’m SO glad it turned out you didn’t need all that stuff done, Pan!

  6. Oh. My. God.

    That kind of shameless robbery is normally only something I associate with plumbers and car mechanics.

    Good for you for getting a second opinion.

    And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a dentist appointment…

  7. This makes me grind my teeth in sympathy. I hope I don’t break one — and I can’t guarantee I won’t, as lousy teeth run in my family.

    This makes me want to kick your (former) dentist and then run into the bathroom and floss obsessively.

  8. I have to say this. If you are a teeth grinder or someone who obsessively chews on ice or pork chop bones, get a bite guard for when you sleep. It won’t help the ice or bone, but at least you won’t damage your teeth when you’re unconscious and don’t know any better.

  9. So did the Superteeth dentist give you an idea of any other work he would recommend or did he say you don’t need anything else done?

  10. He told me to chill, Corina. I’m sure he’s seen worse.

  11. Your old Dentist needs a fanny kicking! Glad you found someone with some morals.

  12. I’m glad that turned out well. Who decides to become a dentist anyway? It’s not normal.

    I have a newish dentist who sends thank you notes and calls when I’ve overlooked making an appointment for a cleaning which is really annoying but ultimately effective…and next week. Bleagh.

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