ROCK HILL, S.C. (Sept. 27) — In a stunning development, it was reported yesterday that I have several cavities, some of which will require a simple filling but others that could need a full root canal.
Officials at Iredell Dental Care (IDC) made the surprising announcement following a routine cleaning and exam Monday afternoon. Even though I had a clean bill of dental health at my previous visit six months ago, now the dentist claims I need work done that could cost thousands of dollars.
“Are you serious?” I asked following the 45-minute-long appointment. “How can there be such a big change in such a short period?”
“I’m not sure,” said Dr. Leena Jones, who performed an examination that included jabbing at suspicious areas with a pointy metal thing. “Sometimes, cavities can develop quite quickly.”
In a Proposed Treatment Plan issued by IDC, I reportedly need a “posterior composite – 2 surface” on tooth number 2, a “composite resin, 1 surface” on tooth number 26, and a “posterior composite – 1 surface” on several other teeth. These procedures run between $139 and $204 each.
In addition, there’s a need for a “crown, porc. fused to high nobl” as well as “endodontics, 1 canal” on teeth 3, 22 and 27. Estimates for this work range from $647 to $997.
“Let’s see what your insurance would cover,” said the helpful lady (I think her name is Jane) at the front desk. “Oh, I’m so sorry. You’ve used up your 2011 allotment already. It was only $1,000 anyway.”
I’m tempted to get a second opinion from another, more-senior doctor who works with the practice. The lady dentist who performed my exam was certainly cute and friendly enough, and I freely acknowledge she’d be welcome in another setting to put her hands in my mouth.
However, the firm’s founding dentist — a man who’s about my age, and was probably pulling teeth before young Dr. Leena was born — has the gravitas I need to confirm the extensive work will be necessary. I’ll talk to him when I get a chance.
“What, do they think I just have thousands of dollars laying around to be spent on dental work?” I asked myself following yesterday’s visit. “They don’t even hurt. Why can’t I just wait till they hurt?”
According to WebMD, a delay in treatment could cause teeth which otherwise might be fixed with fillings to instead require the more-expensive root canal.
“Maybe I could just check a different online source,” I proposed.
Unfortunately, both Ask.com and a guy I play Farmville with confirm this likely scenario.
Dr. Leena did say that I might be able to prevent further cavities by improving my brushing stroke. She asked the dental hygienist to show me how to make a circular motion on the gum, then move the brush over the teeth “in the direction they grow.”
“You brush up for the bottom teeth and down for the top teeth,” said Angela Davis, hygienist and former vice-presidential candidate for the American Communist Party. “Like this. And make sure you do it every night before you go to bed.”
“What am I, some kind of child?” I wondered. “I know how to brush my own damn teeth.”
Dr. Leena also gave me a script for “prescription toothpaste,” marketed under the name “Prevident 5000.” Like I’m going to show up at some pharmacy and ask for prescription toothpaste.
“Maybe I can alter the script to get Vicodin,” I speculated.
IHC said I could study the Proposed Treatment Plan and get back to them about what I wanted to do. However, according to the fine print at the bottom of the page, “the above services and fees are valid for 90 days.”
“I don’t have $3,576 now, and I’m not likely to find it in the next three months,” I countered. “It’d be cheaper to hire someone to chew for me, then feed me like a baby bird.”