Enough To Make You Grind Your Teeth

, , , , , | Healthy | January 27, 2018

(I’ve been going to a dentist clinic for a few months. I love the place and the staff; they’re considerate of the expensive costs of treatments, they’re friendly, and they take the time to explain options. The moment I get dental insurance from work, I become a regular patient to fix all the little things I’ve been putting off. Sadly, for some reason, the dentist turnover becomes high. At this point, I’ve seen four different ones already. I’ve had all my repairs done, got a mouth guard for grinding my teeth, and am just finishing a yearly cleaning.)

Dentist #1: *who I’ve never had before* “Well, everything looks good on your x-rays. We’ll see you in six months!”

(A month later, I’m back with a pretty infected tooth that requires a root canal treatment. Yet another dentist, the first male one I’ve encountered, greets me.)

Dentist #2: *cheerfully* “How are you?”

Me: “Well, I’m here because I’m in a lot of pain, so—”

Dentist #2: “Oh, no. You’re doing well!”

(I’m a bit annoyed that he would tell ME how I’M doing, but I let it go. He starts the procedure, after pressing his belly into the back of my head twice while looking for tools and not apologizing. Towards the end, there is terrible pain, which I had not been warned about in any way. I’m crying and upset by the time I get out, just in a hurry to leave that place. It hurts more than the tooth did before he did anything to it. Because my insurance is almost maxed out for the year, I end up paying several hundred dollars for the procedure. And we’re just in May. A week later, the temporary seal, which I was not told was temporary, starts coming off while I eat. I had been told I would need a crown, but since nothing else was explained, I thought I was good to go until the following year, having told them about the insurance being maxed. I see [Dentist #3], who says I should get a screw and a crown, and nods when I explain I have to wait, as I don’t have $1,500 to pay for it. She puts a white filling over the tooth in the meantime. The clinic calls me three times for me to get an appointment for the screw and crown, the third one in November. I explain the insurance thing to the receptionist, and schedule an appointment in January. A week after the November call, my gums around that tooth begin swelling when I eat, so I go back.)

Dentist #4: “The filling has just slightly been dislodged, so it’s rubbing against your gums. We’ll fix it for free, since we have a warranty on repairs.”

Me: “When was the last time I came for a cleaning?”

Dentist #4: “In mid-April.”

Me: “And when did I come back with an infected tooth?”

Dentist #4: “In May.”

Me: “Is it really possible for [Dentist #1] to have missed a tooth that ended up infected a month later? She did take x-rays.”

Dentist #4: *is silent for a while, looking at the computer, then, slowly* “Yes, it’s not visible on them.” *points vaguely to the x-rays, which I obviously have no knowledge to interpret*

Me: “Okay. Also, the dentist who performed the root canal treatment didn’t warn me about the pain, and didn’t explain that the seal was temporary.”

Dentist #4: “Well… sometimes when dentists explain all the procedures and costs needed, it scares the patient.”

Me: *in shock* “Well, that’s dishonest.”

Dentist #4: “I understand that you don’t like it.”

(I leave after the repair a bit shaken. Before I leave I ask her to confirm that my $800 mouth guard will not have to be replaced after getting the crown, as I was told by another member of the staff that this might be necessary. The next evening, [Dentist #4] calls and leaves a voicemail.)

Dentist #4: “Hello, I’m calling to set up an appointment for the screw and crown. Please call back.”

(Nothing was said of the mouth guard, and the message disregarded the fact that I HAD an appointment set in January already. I couldn’t call back that evening. The next morning, at 11, I got a call from the receptionist, asking me again to make an appointment! I asked her to cancel the one I had in January, and not to call again. Surely other clinics have staff that have it together.)

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