(The) Dental Debacle

Good morning! I am writing about my day yesterday … and my week this week … and my life in general this summer … extending to last fall … so basically I am talking about the majority of my last year in terms of dental problems. To be more specific, the absolute disparity that exists between the opinions of general dentists (and specialists, for that matter!) and the seemingly meaningless nature of “dental insurance” outside of certain specialties. For me, that happens to be endodontics – I have had most of my root canal work and “consultations” / “examinations” covered … but I think most of that has more to do with the doctor than the insurance, per se. At any rate, over the past few years and even the past few months as dental insurance has gone from covering every bit of work I have had done in my mouth (years ago when the extensive work that was done – the bonding, which is inevitably reaching the end of its 5-7-year-long lifespan which is now all kind of “going” at once – was completely covered by insurance; the only thing I ever paid for out-of-pocket was the N2O I used at the time because of my horrific dental phobia and because I had so much work done at one appointment) to covering almost nothing. The number of participants has decreased to the point where even the dentists I saw in the past no longer accept it. My “dental debacle” yesterday involved this problem – I had contacted a dentist I had found through the website of my dental insurance and sometime between finding said dentist on that website and now, the dentist has decided she does not accept ANY insurance. I was so angered because I was contacted literally about 2.5 hours before my appointment; I had mentioned several time on the phone and in voice messages and via email communication that I had found this particular doctor through my insurance – i.e., they had ample time to contact me regarding their policy of not taking insurance but waited until the very last minute to do so. If you know anything about my past history with dentists in general, you can understand that I was LIVID to say the very least.

So the bottom line, apparently, is that the insurance I have is NOW known as being “terrible” insurance – a fairly “recent” development, it would seem, given my past history of having absolutely no problems finding dentists who took this insurance or having to pay astronomical amounts of money for the copious amount of work I have had to have done in my mouth. I know that only a few years ago almost every dentist and dental specialist took this insurance and it was considered to be one of the “best.” To wonder what the underlying “cause” of this temporal discrepancy might be is as productive as talking to a wall – perhaps it is the “political environment” that is riddled with corruption and greed, perhaps it is just the greed of people in general, perhaps it is actually that the insurance has changed and I just cannot see the “inner workings” of it all. Whatever the cause of this is, I wonder how people who have other chronic diseases or who have Behçet’s, which is KNOWN to cause dental problems (the medication to treat BD causes dental problems, the side effects of these meds cause dental problems … it goes on and on and on!) manage to afford the kind of “care” required to maintain dental health – which, as “we” are increasingly discovering, is linked very closely with our general health (that brings up so many issues as well!). I don’t know anyone else personally who has had this kind of difficulty with his or her dental insurance – even people who rely solely on disability for income (I am going to have to have the “awkward” discussion about how they have figured out the dental insurance game because I certainly have not – and I have private insurance!).

At any rate, I just wanted to put all of this out there because it seems like such a ridiculous issue. If medical insurance functioned the way dental insurance has been “functioning” for me this past year, there would be very little debate about having “universal health care.” On top of all of that, I have definitely encountered dentists who are only out to make as much money as possible, without regard to the patient’s health – and these dentists, sadly, seem to be the majority – at least in this area. I have a theory about the “billing” policies of the last dentist I saw quasi-regularly, who I ended up paying something like $600 to (WITH INSURANCE) for 2 core build-ups and ONE filling. When I compare the charges I incurred with this particular dentist despite her having taken my insurance with the charges I WILL incur with the new prosthodontist (who is now functioning as my dentist), it seems to become almost glaringly obvious that the former is engaged in what seems like shady business. I do not want to say someone is guilty of something he or she hasn’t done, but the fact is that the facts are very questionable. I am very thankful, at any rate, that I now have good dental “specialists.” I will take it without question!

Thank you very much for taking the time to read all of this – I have more to say about my “dental debacles” – especially over the summer, namely being told that ALL OF MY TEETH ARE BAD BEYOND REPAIR (not true, by the way), but I will write that up in another post (or other postS). I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world! I would love to know how dental “coverage” works for you if you are not in the US – we hear about medical being covered everywhere but here, but we don’t often hear about dental “coverage.” I would love to know more! Feel free to comment and let me know or send me an email or however you are comfortable communicating here! Thank you again and just know that my heart is ALWAYS with YOU.

❤ Always, Beth

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