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Unfiltered Story #309540

, | Unfiltered | November 20, 2023

(Despite, or rather because, I practically live at the dentist office, I am terrified of dentists. I have very weak teeth, and 90% of the procedures needing to be done are root canals and crowns. I’ve got six teeth to do this with BEFORE my most recent visit.

Before the pandemic, I had insurance through my employer that allowed me to work on the restoration of my teeth steadily. Post pandemic, I have a much lower paying job and no insurance, literally living paycheck to paycheck and no savings to speak of.

Side note: I often get panic attacks when it comes to both money and dental work. I should also mention the last time I was at the dentist was March 2021, when I had lost my job and insurance. Moving on to the story:

For the last three days I’ve had a major toothache. On day three, I make an emergency appointment with the only dentist in the office at that point in time.

I start panicking on the drive over, and by the time I get to the office I’m in tears. I’ve had no sleep since the pain started, and I haven’t been able to eat much. I’m terrified of the possible costly procedure I know I’ll need, and I hate breaking down in front of other people. I just want to shrink into a ball of pain and hide, but I bite the bullet and risk the anxiety.

I get checked in and wait in the reception area for thirty minutes. By the time I’m brought back to a room, I’m hyperventilating and shaking quite noticeably. Instead of asking if I’m okay or what’s wrong, my behavior is shrugged off by literally everyone. The dental assistant asks me questions and takes my stuttering answers at face value. She works to get x-rays of my tooth, shoving the x-ray positioner into my gasping mouth.)

Assistant: “Stop moving! You’re making the picture blurry. Would you get a grip?”

(I try my hardest to hold still. Once she gets what she needs, she leaves the room without saying a word, and I wait for another forty-five minutes. I try breathing exercises and everything else I can think of to calm myself down, but none of it works. When the dentist comes back with assistant in tow, he also ignores my behavior and looks at my x-rays.)

Dentist: “Alright, I think I know what the problem is… You were abducted my aliens, weren’t you?”

(I stare at him. I’m all for humor, but I’m in no position to even smile.)

Me: “Can… Can you j-just tell me what’s wrong with my tooth p-please?”

Dentist: *rolling his eyes* “So it looks like you’ve got the beginnings of an abscess. More than the beginnings, actually. Based on the x-rays we took back in March, you may have had something starting there. We should have put you on antibiotics a while ago.”

Me: “And why didn’t you? N-no one told me I was about t-to have an infection.”

Dentist: *shrugs* “Were you feeling any pain then?”

Me: “N-no, not that I remember.”

Dentist: “That’d be why. We can write you a prescription for antibiotics and pain killers, but after we get that abscess to go away, the next step is a root canal or removal. Just don’t get to ‘abscessed’ about it, okay?”

(It’s very thing I was afraid of. My panic kicks up a knock and I sob. My hands are shaking so much that the entire chair I’m in is wobbling.)

Dentist: “Touchy much? It’s just a little pain, suck it up. It can’t be any worse than your menstrual cramps.”

Me: *looking up, startled* “Excuse me?!”

Assistant: “He’s just trying to get you to smile, lighten up.”

(Before I can tell him to f*** off, he leaves the room. The assistant takes another thirty minutes to write me prescriptions and calculate the cost for a root canal.)

Assistant: “So for the root canal you’ll be paying $200, and if you -”

(For a brief second I think it’s a miracle from God. I start sobering up a bit. Finally, a break… Until I start asking questions.)

Me: “W-wait, $200? Why is it so low?”

Assistant: “Well, your insurance will be covering most of the cost.”

Me: “I don’t HAVE insurance.”

Assistant: “You don’t? We have you as paying with [insurance].”

Me: “I lost that coverage in March.”

Assistant: “You’re supposed to tell us when your insurance changes -”

Me: “I DID tell you. In MARCH.”

Assistant: “Well, it’ll just be the full cost of $1,100 out-of-pocket for you then, won’t it?”

(I’m ready to die. The assistant leads me back to checkout. The receptionist tries to get me to pay the $1,100 upfront for a procedure I haven’t even had yet. I’ve spent over an hour and a half to get two prescriptions and a slap in the face on how much it would have cost me if I hadn’t lost my job and insurance. I get up and walk out with the receptionist yelling at me to pay. I continue to have my panic attack in the car until my eyes are dry enough to drive.

I have yet to go back to this or any other dentist.)

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