Going to the dentist just ain’t what it used to be.
Of course, it never has been fun, but it used to be clean, spit, polish, spit and out of the chair and out the door.
And if you had a cavity, it got filled. The DDS would fix what was wrong and you’d pay the bill, go home and drool until the novocaine wore off.
Fix, pay, go, drool.
Nowadays going to the dentist is like walking onto a used car lot with the intention in your mind of buying a small Honda hatchback and then being talked into leaving with a huge gas-guzzlng Ford model 16050 pickup truck that hovers 5 feet up off the ground.
Dentists have become like used-car salemen.
Nowadays, after you do the clean-spit-polish routine, there are what are known as referrals. To a specialist. Who has a bunch of alphabet-soup after his name on his diploma so that he can charge you more so that he can afford to buy a new Talbot necktie.
As for me, I have ONE tooth…ONE…that has got some problems. The solution SEEMs simple: X-ray, drill, root canal, crown, go home, drool.
But noooooo…my regular dentist said that I needed to be referred to the “periodontist.”
So okay…I was thinkin’ “ridiculous”… but I was kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place, so I finally made the appointment and went for the $164 eval since I really just wanted to get my one tooth fixed.
On the appointed day, I walked into the antiseptic periodontal office where I was artificially greeted and painfully smiled at. I handed over the medical history form that I had filled out at home.
I sat down in the waiting area to check FaceBook on my phone until I was taken back into a sterilized white room with a chair where a Western Career College reject asked me a whole bunch of questions that I’d already answered on the aforementioned the form.
Reject then asked me when my last dental-related this-that-or-the-other-thing had occurred. Well, I’ve got enough stuff rolling around in my brain already that remembering all that crap is at a very, very low priority. So I asked, “Didn’t my dentist send you over my records?” knowing the answer was yes.
“Oh….” said Reject.
Then Joe Periodontist finally made his entrance. He was a young-ish urban professional wearing a crisp white dress shirt, a Talbot tie and perfectly-pressed slacks.
When I was a kid, the old guy that my my Mom used to schlep us to every six months wore a pale blue schmatta jacket over his shirt and tie. He was kind of rumpled and down-to-earth and wore heavy black-rimmed glasses.
But this guy, Joe Periodontist, walked in all crisp and chipper and talking and talking and talking before he ever even slapped a latex glove onto one hand.
“And so what do you do when you’re not going to the dentist?” he asked jovially.
I was sitting there thinking “It’s none of your dadgum business” but I muttered something about cats, writing, blog, walking. And that gave him a bit more to blahblahblah about.
And I was thinkin’…”Okay…the TOOTH.”
So finally he examined my gums with his steel pick and asked another Western Dental College reject to take an x-ray of the TOOTH.
Well, Reject #2 acted like she had never x-rayed a tooth before. First she asked ME, “What tooth did he say to do?” And I told her #28. She fumbled around as if trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. And then she looked at the screen behind me and could not figure out if she’d done the right tooth or not.
“This does not bode well,” me thought.
So in a nutshell, Dr. Joe determined (this was just supposed to be about ONE TOOTH mind you!) that I need surgery in all four quadrants of my mouth to remove excess bone growth above my gums and then he’ll need to reconstruct the resulting excess tissue of my gums and then I’ll be able to floss more efficiently and there will be less chance of more gum disease and and and….
And so what about the ONE TOOTH?
Joe-$164-Periodontist said he was pretty sure he could save the tooth but he wasn’t 100% sure and it MIGHT need a root canal…or not…and even though Reject #2 took an x-ray he wasn’t exactly sure what was going on below the gum but let’s start with the surgery in that particular quadrant and then he would know more.
Long story short, I walked out of there, after paying $164 for an eval and $38 for ONE x-ray, knowing absolutely nothing more about my one tooth than I did before I had walked in.
But I DID leave with a suggested treatment plan of nearly $8000 worth of dental SURGERY and a brochure about obtaining credit to pay for it all with payments that included INTEREST.
And I left with the queasy feeling that I’d been conned. But at least I hadn’t signed my life away with a contract that would suck me dry with six years of $300+ interest-per-month payments.
Needless to say, I am not going back.
But I still have this ONE TOOTH that needs…SOMETHING.
Whatever happened to the honest old guy in the pale blue jacket and rumpled shirt and tie who simply told you straight-up what you needed and then just did the work himself?
©May 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver