Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth

So, as I promised Zeb, as well as myself and my beloved Becky, I went to the dentist today. I knew the news wouldn't be good, but I didn't expect it to be as bad as it was made out to be. A part of me is a bit suspicious about what I was told, but I'll get to that later.

I'll start, first, with the ordeal of the x-rays. Through the whole of my life, I'd never had so many extensive x-rays of my mouth taken. They started by having me stand on a platform while a machine took what I assume to be a panoramic view of my mouth. Then I was brought to another room and x-rays were taken of my teeth, ten pictures in all to capture the disaster in all its glory. The x-ray tech was all business, and I was a bit nervous at having to make this dental visit, so I was of a mind to start cracking wise about what was going on. She made this difficult by her all-business attitude...so I made a joke about said attitude, and that thoroughly broke through her demeanor. That I was able to make her smile helped me to relax a great deal.

No rooms were immediately available, so I went back out to the waiting room, where I kibitzed with Becky and a few other people seated there. Again, bringing smiles helped me to relax.

Then I was called back to a room...and had to wait again. There were several dentists at this clinic, so the nurse couldn't tell me who I'd be seeing. "It all depends on who becomes available," she said. Thus, to kill time, I started futzing with my brace. Although we'd left early, I didn't like how little of the lacing had been available for me to tie off the brace. So I undid the whole thing with the intention of tightening it up...when the dentist arrived.

He was all business, too, and he didn't seem to have a sense of humor hiding anywhere on or in his person. He simply told me to open wide and started examining the nightmare that is my mouth. A nurse was on hand to take notes as he went from tooth to tooth. Every time he said the word "extraction," I winced internally. Twice when he said the word, he added "surgical" to the notes. I was liking the situation less and less.

I was a genius today. For the first time in ages, I left the apartment without my wallet. If I'd brought it with me, I could have the actual details on such things as how many root canals and drill-n-fills he recommended. What I recall quite clearly is the call for six extractions, with two of them being surgical. Once teeth have been removed, I'll need a partial denture to retain the spaces where teeth will then be missing. Oh...and this clinic doesn't do root canals, but they told me the could recommend somewhere to go, where it'll cost between $800 and $900 per tooth.

My rough estimate, overall, is that all of my dental work will cost around $7,000...and I have no dental coverage.

While I was waiting, there was a woman wandering about who, at first glance, seemed to be the clinic's prostitute. She wore stiletto heels and pants that were entirely too tight. I was wrong; she was the office manager. After summoning Becky from the waiting room, we sat down with this woman and discussed what I needed to do...

...and all I wanted to do was weep. I can barely afford to have one tooth pulled - the truly bad one right now - let alone six, along with all of the other work that was recommended. As I understand it, Medicare will take care of dentures and partials once a year, but this clinic "doesn't work with them." Spectacular.

Oh...Zeb? While the doctor didn't necessarily agree with my self-medicating with the antibiotics, he said I'd made an excellent call, as my infected gums would have been A LOT worse had I done nothing at all. He then prescribed Amoxicillin to finish what I'd started. So...nyah! =P

I'm going to have to find another clinic, one that works with perhaps some kind of sliding scale base on income, to address my oral issues. This one, with offices spanning several states, is entirely too expensive for little old me. I only went here because the first visit was free, and they were willing to take me so soon.

Now to my suspicions about this visit. I felt I was being pressured to get things done as swiftly as possible. Teeth that aren't bothering me at the moment were being advertized as being the greatest of my problems. I had flashbacks to when I was buying a car, where the salesperson was trying to make it sound as though, if I dared to walk out the door, whatever deal that was on the table right then and there would vanish, never to be offered again. This isn't to say I'm not taking the situation seriously, but it felt like high-pressure sales tactics were being used on me instead of medical care, and I didn't like that one bit. My mouth is in bad shape. I know this. But if it were life and death, as they made it seem, they wouldn't have let me walk out the door.

And if it IS life and death, and they let me walk, then Becky will have good cause to sue them into nonexistence once my mouth explodes.

I have calls to make while I chase what needs doing. I just wanted to report what I could, just in case anyone out there was worried about little old me.

Be well, and DFTBA!

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