I’m going to start this blog by saying that I have dental insurance – but it doesn’t cover very much beyond regular checkups. At my most recent checkup, the dentist found some expensive problems that need to be fixed.
Content warning: This blog post contains details about my most recent dentist appointment. I’m not going to post anything graphic and will not include any photos (other than the one at the top of this blog).
I went for a regular, six-month, dental checkup. My insurance covers two checkups and cleanings a year, and whatever x-rays the dentist wants to take. The main purpose for the x-rays this time was to make sure that the cap the dentist put in (which replaced one that wasn’t functioning properly anymore) was doing well.
We had to take out a small loan in order to pay for the cap. We finished paying off that loan very recently.
The cap turned out to be just fine. But, there was another problem. More specifically, this problem was with one of my molars. The tooth (or, what’s left of it) is currently being held together with a metal filling and a smaller “tooth colored” filing. Both were put in years ago, and I’ve been told the metal filling would eventually fail.
And fail, it did.
I noticed that I was getting food stuck between that tooth and the one in front of it for a while. Food would push into that space when I chewed so often that it eventually caused that part of my gums to get sore. I brushed and flossed, and figured that was fine.
The dental hygienist noticed a problem in that area. I explained about the food getting stuck into it. She said she thought she saw “something” but wanted to the dentist to take a look. The dentist took a look, poked around, and declared that I had a gum infection. He said there was pus, and promptly removed it. The dental technician said she saw some of that and had removed what she could.
I have chronic illnesses, three of which are autoimmune diseases. I’m well aware that infection generally means I’ll be prescribed an antibiotic. “How is this treated?”, I asked the dentist. “Very simply,” he responded.
Long story short, the dental technician was able to treat it right then and there. It involved the application of a ….well, she described it as “kind of like a sandblaster”. It was some kind of solution that was designed to remove particulate matter (meaning whatever food particles were still stuck in a “pocket” of my gums).
Next, she would apply an antibiotic, which would be “squished in there.” I was a little nervous until I understood what was about to happen.
“The antibiotic costs $88,” the dental technician said. “Are you prepared to pay that?”
Um…. no? I sent her to ask my husband if we had the money for that. He was in the waiting room. She came back and let me know that he said we were able to pay for that.
While she was applying the antibiotic, I was thinking about how lucky I was to have access to a dentist right then. This infection could have gotten much worse if ignored – especially since I was completely unaware of it. The only reason I can afford regular checkups is because they come free with my dental health plan. The shortest explanation is that it is connected to my “Obamacare” health insurance.
I wasn’t expecting to pay $88 that day, but it was manageable. The problem is that the dentist needs to remove my metal filling (which is failing – something every dentist I’ve seen since it was put in warned me would happen.) I’m going to need a cap put on that tooth, which means I’ll need a temporary cap before the permanent one can be created and placed.
I’m not sure if this involves a root canal or not. He said something about being able to “move my tooth” over so I wouldn’t get food stuck in that spot anymore.
The price tag on what I need done is $897. That’s after whatever amount my insurance covers (if it is covering anything at all). For us, this is a lot of money. The receptionist wanted to know when I wanted to schedule that work. “When we get the money to pay for it,” I replied. She was not amused.
The dentist said it was not something I had to rush into. “You’re not gonna lose a tooth,” he told me. “I don’t think there’s much tooth left. It’s mostly fillings,” I responded.
At the time I am writing this blog post, I have absolutely no idea where we are going to get the money to pay for the dental work I need. Yes, it can wait. But, it can’t wait forever. I browsed through GoFundMe, specifically looking at ones from people who needed help paying for dental work. There are so many and most of them didn’t raise any money at all.
I’m hesitant to do a GoFundMe because my husband and I have plans to attend a video game conference in November. Based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, people will assume that I’m lying about the dental work and trying to scam them into paying for my vacation. What am I supposed to do, get a written letter from my dentist confirming that I’m telling the truth?
This is why we need single payer health care. If we had that, things like this would be covered. Maybe I’d have to pay $5 or $10 for medication. That’s it. I certainly wouldn’t have to wonder if GoFundMe is my only hope. I wouldn’t have to question the morality of putting up a GoFundMe knowing that mine could push attention away from someone else who is in a worse situation than I am.
America doesn’t have a health care system. It has an for-profit insurance system – and GoFundMe. This must change.
So, I’m on an antibiotic… or, more correctly, the antibiotic is literally on me. It’s in a pocket of my gums where the dentist found signs of infection. I’m not allowed to floss that area for a total of ten days, so I assume that’s how long the antibiotic will release itself.
Antibiotics make me extremely sleepy, which makes it harder for me to complete my paid writing work, which makes it harder for me to gather up the money to pay for the dental work I need.
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