Got into a discussion the other day about the infuriating cost of dental work and the near-total uselessness of dental insurance and a friend pointed my way to this story, which explains in some ways why my dentist acts like money doesn’t exist:
On a recent Friday, Michael Hanson, 54, a lobsterman who went 15 years without seeing a dentist, was sitting in the community health clinic near Maine’s Acadia National Park. Over time, lack of care and poor health ruined Hanson’s teeth. In February, they were all pulled. He sat toothless, talking about eating soft food for months while he awaits his dentures.
Hanson said his daughter, too, skips annual exams because it is hard to come up with the money.
The dental system is broken, he said. “You go to the hospital and they give you time to pay your bill. But you go to the dentist and they want you to pay right there, and people just don’t have the money.”
The sickest I’ve ever been was from a botched root canal that abscessed. No pain was like that in my life, not the C-section, not the burst ovarian cyst, not the herniated back disc. At 3 a.m. I was begging Mr. A to either pull the tooth out with pliers or put me immediately to death. But in calling around to emergency rooms to try to find someone to shoot me like a horse we realized almost none of them consider dental care health care at all.
I have a decent dentist now, but my teeth are genetically horrible and if I tilt my head just right I can get radio signals, I have so much metal in my head. Every time I go in it’s $200 with head-shaking advice to spend approximately 10 grand (I’m exaggerating but only a little) on veneers, replacing all my old fillings, getting implants and/or bridges, and they get downright SHIRTY when I say flat-out that I can’t afford what they want to do.
“When are you going to get these implants?” the dentist asked, noting the four holes in my mouth where adult teeth never came in.
“When they’re free.” She stared at me like I’d suggested paying her with my body. At $3,500 times four, it would be the only way to get it done.
If we had a decent government and not a dumpster fire overseen by a fascist lunatic, we’d be adding to Obamacare a few levels that let us get our teeth fixed before we all died of blood poisoning or had to get dentures in our 30s.