Friday, March 20, 2009

Dental Drama

Our family dentist died a few months ago. We loved his laid back style, non-fancy office where you were a patient, not a customer. Now that Dr. Ryan is of a blessed memory, I had to quickly find a new dentist when Eli was complaining about a tooth ache.

At first I thought maybe Max & Ruby had an episode about toothaches and dental visits. I scanned the Tivo and did not find evidence to support my thinking- Dora, Diego, and Curious George had not been plagued with aching teeth either, so perhaps, Eli was telling the truth. After a few days of his reference to the pain, and when he refused to eat I knew this was legit. This is a kid that does not say no to food.

I frantically called my sister in laws' sister, Jeannie who is a dental hygienist. She worked part time for our Dr. Ryan and still works part time at another practice. Jeannie graciously offered to see Eli that afternoon so she could peek inside and take a look at his choppers. Sure enough, he had a major cavity in the tooth that he was moaning and groaning about. I was sad to hear of his cavity but glad to know he was not faking it. There were two other small spots in addition to the gaping hole in his back molar. I scheduled an appointment to fill the cavities the following week. Before I left I got an estimate for Eli's fillings. I almost fainted when the receptionist a the new dentists' office said it would be approximately $545 since we do not have dental insurance. I was a patient of Dr. Ryan but I was a customer at the new place.

Thankfully, we do have AFLAC dental coverage which is a supplemental plan. For those of you with large families, this is one policy that pays for itself if you take your kids for bi-annual cleanings. Aflac charges a flat premium no matter how many kids you have, a family plan is for your whole family so the bigger your brood, the better value it is. The policy pays $50 per patient per cleaning every 6 months- and you find your own dentist. As long as the cleaning costs $50 or less you can re-coup the premium with 5 kids. After a year it pays a flat rate for other more invasive procedures like fillings! This is my silver lining (PUN INTENDED) because we have had AFLAC for year, well the one year waiting period ended March 17th! Whoooo, hoooo good timing Eli. Nice job holding out until we had coverage.

Eli had his appointment and it went very well. I offered to attend a Grateful Dead show, buy a $5 nitrous filled balloon and bring my own gas for Eli, but the office staff had no sense of humor. They used an orange clown nose mask instead,gassed him to the point of complete peace and drilled away. When I saw how nicely he was behaving, I asked how much it would cost to get a nitrous tank and mask for the house. The dentist estimated that it would cost $100K for the dental degree and license and $100K for malpractice insurance, and there would be no guarantee that Child Protective Services would find it questionable. Again, with no sense of humor people. Dentists have no sense of humor.

In all fairness, the whole situation was handled with the utmost professionalism and care. I am sure Dr. Ryan would have done a wonderful job, but I was happy to pay extra to make sure Eli's first dental experience was pleasant. Dentists and Drilling-oh what drama.


KarenM in NC said...

I know I'm missing something here, but $545 for three fillings?! Tell me there's a typo, please.


KarenM in NC

Helene Eichenwald Slutsky said...

$545 for three fillings, x-rays, the gas, the novacaine and the pediatric dentist. I about died, and that is not a typo Karen.

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