Sunday, April 13, 2014

Six thousand bucks


$6k - what can you get for $6000? A nice down payment for a car. My half of the mortgage. A wardrobe on TLC's What Not to Wear show, with $1000 to blow in NYC. A really, nice cruise. A loaded Mac. I could go on, but I won't, because I spent $6,000 on, wait for it... a tooth.

Here's how I blew through $6k: A really bad and former dentist extracted my wisdom teeth in 2007. (yes, I KNOW I should have done that when I was under my parents' benefits - yes I KNOW how much that costs, blah blah). So my wisdom teeth erupted late - in my fourth decade. Not my fault I'm a late tooth bloomer.

I go in for a cleaning and wisdom teeth removed - and I get the "hey, let's remove that old, terrible silver filling near your wisdom tooth - #19 - you're already numb". Idiot me, says "flhalhsure" though the numbness and cotton stuffed in my mouth. Not only did that terrible dentist keep my silver from my old filling, he replaced it with a white, resin composite filling... that our insurance doesn't cover. Add $150 for that nifty, new filling to the bill.

Two weeks later, I am in agony with an abscess the size of Mt. Rushmore near my fancy schmancy white filling. Dr. Butcher takes the sickle probe and POKES Mt. Rushmore. "Yep, you need a root canal". My response, "isn't that the tooth you just filled - #19?", to his answer "it was a really deep filling and it must have failed." Eyes roll and pretty sure I groaned. Not to mention the irony of all the work he just did that tooth. The one that wasn't bothering anyone - except him.

I get the price of a crown and they quote a reasonable price. (I wouldn't really know, as I have only had three fillings with zero crowns). Maybe we do have good insurance, and that it just doesn't pay for white fillings? Nope. The day of my root canal is when I see the ENTIRE bill, right before I get in the chair. It is half of what I was quoted, because it didn't include... the root canal - only the crown. And to insult me even more, he wouldn't take off the $150 he just charged me for my fancy schmancy filling that was only 2 weeks old. This new crown of mine is "lifetime guaranteed... in very small print, as long as you keep us as your dentist". Uh, ok.

I hated my crown. Hated it. And it was a short relationship, as I made the mistake of chewing gum - it cracked that new crown right off... along with my tooth stump that was above the gum line.

Crown #2 (it was free, dontcha know?) also involved a metal bar being screwed into one of my roots - as Dr. Jerk needed something to attach this crown to. I don't know about you, but having a metal bar inserted into you isn't cool.

 My hate for crown #2 didn't last too long, as I eventually needed (free!) crown #3. Hate. Hate. Hate. It is time to leave this jerk and move on. So we eventually separate from Dr. Doom and get a new dentist (whom we love).

Here's the fun part. My jaw started hurting right after I leave Dr. Dickwad. My new dentist sends me to an endodontist - an expert for root canals. This guy tells me it has failed and had never been done correctly. At least I decided not to let him open up crown#3 to tell me that (for $400).

So crown#3 needs to be removed by a surgeon and I need a bridge, an implant or I can look like a hillbilly. Bridges are a terrible option as they would be grinding down "virgin teeth" next to tooth #19. It will fail in my lifetime, too. So implant it is - (of course, our insurance pays for ZERO). An implant is a titanium screw with an abutment and crown - fun times. Here I am right before surgery. I look happy, don't I?



I should have been an oral surgeon. They make loads of cash and have really good drugs. Mine was really great, and removed tooth#19 and also did a bone graft. Stitches, Vicodin and eating Spagettios for me. Check me out all swollen and looking like a hillbilly.








Months later, I had my implant inserted (screwed into my jaw) by my surgeon - and had to wait months to heal. Here's a close up of the screw in my head. It's bad ass.




Once it healed, my dentist got to place an abutment and crown#4 (NOT free, but pain free). Here's a cool shot of what my implant looks like above the gum line.
  


Look at my neato abutment post ready for my new crown.






After one year, and countless sitting in dentist chairs, I have crown#4 in the spot that was formerly known as tooth#19. My last images looks the same as my first, doesn't it? Nope. Much healthier, but I am out $6,000 out-of-pocket from when I let Dr. Buttwipe take my old, terrible silver filling. NEVER let your guard down when your dentist is more tan from always vacationing in Aruba and has season floor tickets to the Cavs. And floss. You can never floss enough.


 

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