Hey everyone! I wanted to make a post about my experience with the dentist last night (you can all cringe now). I feel that it’s important to be aware of your health – and I mean all of it, not just your body in general. I think that eye care and dental care fall by the wayside a lot, when that shouldn’t be the case. Your eyes and mouth/teeth are just as important as any other part of your body. When you have a toothache it’s not fun, and delaying getting glasses can be really bad for your eyes! (Was I the only one excited to get glasses?)
Taking care of things right now will save you money and save you from bigger issues in the long run.
Why does my tooth hurt?!
A few days ago I started getting headaches. This isn’t out of the norm for me (unfortunately), but taking one Advil wasn’t working as it usually does. This was a bit puzzling, but I went on with my days hoping it would soon disappear.
Yesterday, I finally figured out that the pain was originating from my teeth – more accurately, my jaw. I started wondering if it was my wisdom tooth, finally coming to bother me. The pain still wasn’t too bad, so again, I hoped it would pass.
This morning, the pain was still there, and it progressively got worse throughout the day. My coworker ironically had a dentist appointment that morning, and gave me the name of her dentist. I was in luck – they had late hours! However, she did say that when she had tried to make an appointment, they were booked, so I did some research and found another office with late hours. Both were minutes away from my apartment.
I called my coworker’s dentist first, but they weren’t able to take me until the 12th. I didn’t think I could wait that long. My tooth had been bothering me all day, and I didn’t think I could last another week. Not only that, but I wasn’t sure if it was safe. For all I knew, I had an infection.
Thankfully the other office was able to fit me in last night. I was so relieved. I really thought I would have to wait a few days. Why can’t I ever find a doctor with late office hours?!
My dental dilemma
R took us to the office, where I didn’t wait long at all. They had a form I filled out online, and they actually received it at the office once I submitted it. I didn’t have to print it, which I thought was pretty cool. Anyway, I was very nervous, because I had a bad feeling I’d be parting with a tooth shortly. Turns out my hunch was right.
They took a few x-rays to locate the problem. At first, the dentist scared me by saying he thought one of my teeth was fractured. On closer inspection, apparently it was a narrow cavity in the tooth. He said they could try filling it, and if the pain didn’t go away, I could come back for an extraction.
Here’s why there was a dilemma. I don’t have dental insurance. Yep, I am foolish, and I fully admit that. I was covered under my mom for so long, and I figured I could wait to get insurance. As timing would have it, I have the typical 3 months to wait before I’m covered at my new job. My old job had a plan that cost $30ish a month. Should I have paid it? Yes, but I wanted that $30 in my pocket. Silly me.
They broke down the costs for me – apparently the office visit was around $50, the x-rays were $70, and the tooth extraction would be $500. If I went with the filling, that would have been $250. They had some deal that included the x-rays and office visit, and another deal that included two free cleanings and a full mouth series of x-rays. However, since cleanings are every six months, and I’d be covered in three, I didn’t think it was worth it. I figured I was better off just getting the tooth pulled. If the filling didn’t work, it was money down the drain.
I ended up taking the package that cost $500 all together. There was the option of going to an oral surgeon, which I’d normally take because I’m a chicken, but I knew that would have been too much money. I had to tough it out – this was the result of my mistake.
This is why I love my emergency fund
I keep a rather large emergency fund just in case something unexpected like this happens. While we rent our apartment, and I only own a car, you might say there’s not too much that could go wrong, but you never know. I’d rather sleep soundly at night. While I absolutely didn’t want to part with $500, my health was in question, and I need to take care of myself.
I know I would have been way more anxious to visit the dentist without insurance and without an emergency fund. I could calmly put the amount on my card, and pay it off the same night, without having to worry how I’d come up with the money.
If you asked me a month ago if I thought I’d have this issue, I’d have said probably not. No one knows the future, but I haven’t had any dental pain in quite a while – since I got a root canal years ago. So it’s easy to say, “Oh I don’t need this insurance, whatever!” Let me tell you – it pays to be prepared. You may not think anything will happen to you in the next month, but life can and will surprise you. Be ready for it!
A happy ending
First of all, the office staff was great. Everyone was so nice, and it’s refreshing when that happens. For some reason every medical office I visit has lots of disgruntled people working there, and it’s not welcoming.
The dentist was great – he pulled the tooth out in about five minutes. Crazy! He told me the hardest part was the numbing process, and he was completely right.
Second of all, I got a huge surprise when I walked up to make the payment. “That will be $274, please.” “What?! I thought it was $500…” (yes I’m that honest person). “Oh, no, the dentist just gave you an estimate on the higher side, just in case it required surgical extraction.” SCORE! You bet I was ecstatic after hearing that.
Obviously this could have all been avoided had I not been stupid and had insurance, but I thought it was worth sharing. One, for the health reminder/lesson, two, providing some insight into why I keep an emergency fund, and three, to give an example of the unexpected happening when you least want it to! The not-so-happy ending: apparently my teeth are secretly horrendous, and when I do get coverage, I need to go back to deal with cavities that I had no idea I had. Checkups are important!!
Anyone have any tips on recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction? Have you ever had a medical issue and no insurance? Or something insurance didn’t cover?