This morning, I went back to the dentist. This would be my third dentist this year.
I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in far too long because I didn’t have dental insurance and thought that cleanings cost like $200. (Wrong.) But last fall, when I saw a Groupon for X-rays and a cleaning for $69, I jumped on it. The dentist’s office was in a really nice part of Houston and the office (and staff!) was so nice. They had flat screen TVs above each chair and just an overall modern and expensive feel.
The dentist found two cavities, which didn’t surprise me, as I’d been having some pain. But they told me it would be $180 to fill each one. When I mentioned that to my mom, she said that was ridiculous, that fillings are not that expensive. I figured I was just paying a premium for the flat screens, so I didn’t go back.
My cavities didn’t go away (because cavities don’t) and I was eventually due for a cleaning, so I started hunting for a new dentist. Right around this time, I started getting a ton of flyers in the mail from dentists in my area, obviously because the internet is creepy and knows what I’m searching for (why else would EVERY SINGLE website show me ads for Blue Nile?!) but in this case, the info helped. I called an office that had a deal on cleanings and asked how much they charged for fillings. They “couldn’t tell me over the phone” but because a cleaning was only $81, I booked it anyway.
This was also a very nice office with flat screens and a bunch of other modern shizz, and this was the dentist that told me I needed $1300 worth of dental work for my seven cavities. I wasn’t sure how I had gotten five new cavities…I mean, I floss, for God’s sake. What more do these people want from me?
I told my mom about this, and — since she’s had a lot of dental work done — she finally figured out the problem: all these dentists wanted to put in white fillings. That is why they were so expensive. And the seven cavities? Well, most of those were likely just replacing silver fillings with white. That might be a good idea and all, but it’s not a necessity, especially not at that price.
After I figured out that the white fillings were the problem, I called a few more dentists to see if they’d do silver fillings. You would have thought I was calling and asking if they still used slaves, the way they responded to this. Apparently, my mouth was going white whether I liked it or not.
So I started hunting for some kind of dental insurance. Eventually, I hit upon Humana One Dental. Through this plan, which had a $35 enrollment fee and costs $15 per month, I could get major discounts — like free cleanings and $45 fillings. Um, SOLD.
I signed up and had to wait a month to use the plan, so I called in advance to be sure I could get an appointment as soon as August hit. Today I went in for my appointment. There were no flat screens, but the office was clean and the staff was nice. The dentist diagnosed me with four cavities (we compromise!) and said he could fill them all today. I opted to only have two filled, as $200 on dental work wasn’t in my budget, and so he filled the ones on the left side because those are the ones that are really bothering me. I’m going back in two weeks to have the other ones filled.
And despite the fact that paying $100 for a shot, a headache and the sound of a drill going into your face isn’t my idea of money well spent, he totally softened the blow when he said I had really, really white teeth. Oh, and it’s good to know that I’m not one piece of candy away from a broken tooth.