Making You Grit Your Teeth

| NC, USA | Working | April 13, 2017

(I’m 21 years old, pregnant, and one of my wisdom teeth has become dangerously infected. I visit my dentist, but he tells me to come back after I’ve delivered. Normally when I go to the dentist I take my mother with me, as I’m autistic with sensory issues and I get overwhelmed easily by the tools. I receive a call two months after getting the tooth pulled.)

Caller: “Hello! I’m looking for [My Name].”

Me: “That’s me.”

Caller: “Hi, [my Name], I’m calling from [Dentist]. Are you aware that you have a bill for $300?”

(At this point my daughter is crying and my mother is asking who it is, so I hand her the phone to tend to the baby. I calm her down enough to hear what’s being said.)

Mom: “I’ve talked to [My Previous Insurance] and they’ll cover the cost if you’ll file the claim correctly. It was a medically necessary procedure, which is covered. This is the third time I’ve told you to re-file the claim. If you’d done it right the first time, you’d have your money.”

Caller: “Well, it will soon be sent to collections. Even if it is covered, that’s only $100 from her bill; still needs to pay for the cleaning.”

(At this point I’m confused, because all we’d ever been told was that the $300 was for extracting my tooth. Furthermore, I had neither asked for nor discussed a cleaning with the dentist, as I was only going in to have that tooth pulled. It takes me a minute before I realize that he did clean my teeth, without warning or my consent, to see what all damage there was so I would come back, which I had no plans of doing.)

Mom: “[My Name], did he clean your teeth?”

Me: “Yes, but I didn’t ask for it or agree to it, and didn’t even know he was going to do it until he started. We never discussed a cleaning, just the extraction.”

Caller: *practically screaming* “Well, she can say that all she wants, but she sat in that chair and had her teeth cleaned, so it’s her responsibility, and if she doesn’t pay it will be GOING TO COLLECTIONS.”

(The caller then hung up as I started fighting tears. I had seen this dentist as a teenager, and he knew of my issues. Every time my mother had gone in with me for wisdom tooth removals he had done the procedure without a cleaning — but the one time I went in alone they wanted to spring a surprise cleaning on me, then charge me $200 for it. I won’t be returning there, or taking my daughter to see them.)

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