Please Schedule An Appointment With The Dentist Today

It started a few weeks ago, when my four year old daughter complained of a really bad toothache (the kind that makes crocodile tears flow), and cut short her trip with her grandparents.  We drugged her up and scheduled an appointment with a dentist for the next day.

As she was sitting in “the chair,” the dentist explained to me that he is seeing the quality of American’s teeth go downhill rapidly.  He said the main reason was the lack of dental insurance, which we used to have in abundance, and now not many people have it.  I’m sure the healthy supply of soda and other sweets doesn’t help, but his argument was that people used to come in for six-month visits regularly, since their insurance paid for it, but dental insurance started going away and people now neglect their regular visits.

The diagnosis on my daughter was not what we wanted to hear.  I was expecting to pay a few hundred dollars to fill a few cavities, but he said she required a “child root canal” or something like that.  Nothing sounds like money falling out of your wallet like “root canal.”

Turns out she got two of them, one for each side.  She’s only four and quite proud of these silver caps that cover the entirety of two teeth.  My wife feels guilty, horrible, as she never wanted to be “that mother,” the one who obviously let her kid eat junk and neglect her teeth (another stereotype, of course… hey, we’re human).

This put us back over $1,500.  Very expensive procedure, not to mention scary to have your kid “go under” with anesthesia.

I quickly made an appointment to see the dentist.  You know when you watch a movie about, say, spiders, you suddenly feel like you are covered with spiders?  I suddenly felt like all my teeth were about to fall out, or at least ridden with cavities.  I remembered every little pain or discomfort and was sure I, too, would have tons of cavities.  I would rather get them fixed now than have to pay for root canals later.

Guess what?  I hadn’t been to the dentist in about 5 years.  I didn’t go in the last year that I lived in Idaho, and haven’t been in the 4+ years since I moved to Utah.  When I told the receptionist this, she said they would probably have to do a deep clean which went under the gums, and they charge by the quadrant (in my mouth).  Charging by the quadrant sounds VERY EXPENSIVE, doesn’t it?

Long story short, I went in, scared (of pain) and worried (about money).  About 90 minutes later I walked out – they were amazed my teeth looked so good.  Not one cavity, and a simple cleaning and polish, and I was good to go for another six months!  I felt so blessed at that time, and glad that I had flossed and used Listerine faithfully.  Reminds me of a saying from a friend of mine:

Be true to your teeth, and they will be true to you.


Q: Do I have to floss every tooth?  A: only the ones you want to keep!

The reason I’m posting this is because I probably have some readers who are putting off critical things, like dental care.  Take care of it now, while it’s inexpensive (my trip, including all xrays, was about $200) and relatively easy.  Ignoring certain things is just asking for trouble.  I wrote about this last year in Water Damage Is Expensive – Don’t Neglect Your House, and should have taken my own advice!

8 thoughts on “Please Schedule An Appointment With The Dentist Today”

  1. I can relate. I had a filling redone only to crack the tooth about six months later due to pressure from over filling it. The tooth was in the back and had to be removed. While I was warned that my teeth would collapse forward, I did nothing and guess what, they did move forward.

    After ten years missing one tooth, I invested in braces followed by an implant. 30 months and about $10K out of pocket later, I’m still glad that I invested in myself.

    Put two quarter’s under your daughter’s pillow for me.

  2. I have to agree – do what’s important today. I thought I had a job for life and had never updated my resume but was then made redundant – my dental care went out of the window just as I thught I’d get some lingering tooth pain looked at – I had to get my resume remade quick smart using an online tool – resumebuilder4u – and got myself another job – but I ending up living with the pain for a couple of months.

  3. This is so true! I had to have a root canal last year and my out of pocket cost was $400! What saved me was my company Healthcare Spending Account (HSA) which I opted to participate in during my open enrollment period. These things are great and I chose to have $1000 for the year – Thank Goodness! For 2008 I have increased this to $2500. Not many people participate in these and much of this money does not get used since you have to contribute a small amount to it every paycheck. The great thing is with my account is I get the WHOLE amount up front with no penalties, even if I leave the company for a better job the next day!

  4. All right, Jason, you talked me into it. I haven’t been to the dentist for almost five years now myself, and it is more of not wanting the hassle of finding a new dentist than anything else. It continues to be something I think about every now and then, but since I haven’t had any problems…..

    Actually, I did try to set up a first visit a couple of years ago, and was told that I needed to call back in about a month as the dentist was going through a busy time (I think it was the back to school rush). Do you think I would remember a month later? Nope!

    The ridiculous thing is that I DO have dental coverage, and haven’t used it at all over the past five years. I guess it’s time to get on the ball!

  5. Take a sore tooth VERY seriously!! It’s more than money at risk!

    I had a sore tooth 4 few years ago. I checked with my dentist, and the tooth was fine. However, within a day, my lower jaw started to swell down into my neck, my jaws were “locked” (could only open so far), and my frightened dentist sent me to my HMO which put me on 3 x day antibiotics via IV to kill the infection causing the swelling.

    Turns out that I almost died! And, other people DO die of this!

    Within 3 days, I was in the hospital being operated on for an absess that developed when bacteria from my mouth entered my bloodstream probably (we’ll never know) after a too-vigorous tooth brushing. The swelling in my neck was closing off my airway, and I spent 4 days in the ICU on a ventilator, after the operation, with 7 total days spent in the hospital.

    Thanks to my HMO, it didn’t cost me anything but a few weeks, that tooth, and my cavalier attitude toward a little bleeding of my gums.

    Now, I’m very careful of my teeth and gums! I also use a rotary electric toothbrush recommended by my dentist, floss daily (without fail!), and use a toothpaste that does not contain “sodium lauryl sulfate.”

    If there is ANY sign of bleeding after I’ve finished my brushing/flossing – and bleeding is VERY rare now and there was very little before – I use that bad-tasting mouthwash with a lot of alcohol in it to try to ensure no bacteria get into my bloodstream again.

    Sodium lauryl sulfate is an ingredient in most toothpastes (and shampoos!) that makes that nice, foamy lather. Turns out that sodium lauryl sulfate also can cause, in people like me, some bleeding of my gums. Don’t want to take that risk any more! And I honestly haven’t noticed a change in the foaminess of my toothpaste – not that it was particularly important anyway.

    And, don’t assume that because your toothpaste calls itself “natural” that it is free of sodium lauryl sulfate. Check the ingredient list to be sure – you’d be surprised at the brands which contain sodium lauryl sulfate.

    I now use “Jason’s” toothpaste. This Jason’s is the brand name of a personal products company – a completely different Jason from Jason Alba. Jason’s toothpaste doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, and I’m sure there are others which are also free of sodium lauryl sulfate, too.

  6. Root canal on a 4 year old! that’s insane. I’d be tempted to take a second opinion. Ask 5 dentists and they tell you 5 different things. I remember reading a report some years back about someone who criss-crossed the country and showed their teeth to some 50+ dentists. They had recommendations ranging from a few hundred $s to thousands (10s of thousands) of dollars.

    Good luck!

  7. It is well worth visiting the dentist every 6 months! I made the mistake of leaving it for 6 years and when i did go needed two root canals done. Could easily have been avoided had a stuck to a regular 6 month check up!

    Great article

  8. Many times people feel that dental care is a place where they can save money in tough times. But, like many of the stories told by these comments, things get much more costly (money, trouble, and time) when you let things go to far. For the few dollars you spend on a visit, it’s worth the peice of mind and safety.

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