I try to take good care of my teeth. Preventive care became even more important after I lost my dental insurance in 2012. I haven’t had a cavity in over twenty years. I had my wisdom teeth removed over fifteen years ago, and I haven’t had any other dental work except for regular cleanings. Last year, that changed when I broke a tooth.
After I lost my dental insurance, I went to a new dentist every year for several years. I used the new patient special, determined if I liked the dentist, and found out the normal rates for returning patients. After having free cleanings, exams, and x-rays for so long because of insurance, I had a little bit of a sticker shock by the “normal” rates. The new patient specials were affordable, and I guess most of the returning patients have insurance.
In 2016, I finally found a dentist who I liked, and he had somewhat reasonable rates for returning patients. He was more affordable than all of the previous dentists that I tried. I planned on going back to him.
In 2017, I decided to use one more new patient special. I’m glad I did because I like the dentist, and his rates are reasonable. He does the actual cleaning instead of a hygienist, and I think that’s one way he’s able to charge less than everyone else. I’ve been going to him since then.
In April of 2019, I broke a tooth. Well, it kind of splintered. The crack was wide and deep, and a nerve was exposed. My dentist only charged $99 to fix it, and I was so happy. He used filling resin for the repair.
Last week, it felt like part of the resin broke. Fortunately, the nerve wasn’t exposed. At first, I was angry since the repair only lasted about a year. I wondered if he did a really bad job since my other fillings are over twenty years old. Then, I realized that I might need a crown because of the location and type of damage. Now that I think about it, there’s a chance that he mentioned the possibility of an expensive crown.
Just in case he did a bad job, I decided to get a second opinion. I scheduled an appointment with my 2016 dentist to see if I needed a crown or if I could get a better filling. His filling and crown rates are about double the cost of my dentist’s rates.
My consulting dentist confirmed that it’s normal for resin to break in that location (not my dentist’s fault). However, he said that my tooth chipped, and the resin was fine. He highly recommended that I continue repairing as necessary instead of getting a crown which is more invasive than I realized. The doctor said he recommended just smoothing the chipped area instead of adding resin. Then, he said he would do it right then for free! I shockingly agreed. When I set the appointment, I knew I would pay $30 for the single x-ray. When I checked out, I found out that I was also charged for an exam since I talked to the doctor, but $85 was worth it to have a second opinion plus the repair.
Do you spend too much money taking care of your teeth? Are there alternatives?