Sunday, May 17, 2009

Price-gouging dentist

I went to a dental practice on Friday who fully tried to price-gouge me. I went in there for a routine cleaning and the suspicion of perhaps two cavities. I went on the recommendation of a friend--who goes to see the head dentist--but they stuck me with a new "associate" that was in la-la land. It was just what I needed this week (not). I'm one of those people who needs nitrous for you to touch my teeth at all--which I told them about 50 times--and these fools (the hygienist and the dentist) were digging around in there willy-nilly until I was tearing up from the pain and about ready to punch one or both of them. They kept fluttering, going off to confer together and then coming back to me. "Are you sure you're flossing? Why are your gums this sensitive? Your insurance seems to have an unlimited cleaning should come back every three months until we get you up to speed. It's been a WHOLE YEAR since you saw the dentist." (You would have thought it'd been ten years and I had rampant meth mouth or something. It was to laugh. Anyone who knows me knows what good care I take of my teeth--I'm borderline pathological about it.)

They also told me I needed twelve fillings. TWELVE. (They did concede that some of them were tiny, but still oh so urgent.) My maximum dental plan allowance is $2K per year and of course this whole proposed cluster was going to cost $3K. I told them I couldn't afford it. They handed me a loan application. (!) They outlined an entire treatment plan that would have involved cleaning part of my mouth and filling part of my mouth over four appointments, telling me they were trying to save me money so I wouldn't have to pay for the nitrous so many times. I didn't end up with a cleaning or any fillings--"they didn't have time"--but I ended up being there for two bloody hours anyway. They were in their office chattering and eating lunch together before I'd even gotten out of the building.

I told them several times that I had not had a job in months and also had major surgery coming up but they didn't budge on their grand plan. In the real world, no one has four digits to drop on dental care willy-nilly. I said, "Can we not just take care of the most pressing issues now and wait until later on the more minor ones?" Nothing. I heard crickets.

I hadn't slept the night before at ALL and was literally home under a blanket weeping once I got there. My logical mind had left the building. (Sleep deprivation and overload will do that.) I was thinking, What can I sell? What can I do? Why is this all happening? Thankfully, my dear and lovely friend--who also happens to be an RN--gave me a call at precisely the right moment and talked me down. We both know a recently graduated dental hygienist who knows about the dental schools and such, and the hygienist and the RN concurred I was being gouged and I should go elsewhere. I was instructed to get my films (which were only available in digital form) and either come to the practice she works for or find someone more local to me who was based in reality.

The receptionist played dumb ("you need these for your gastric bypass surgery?") but finally emailed them to me. They are interesting, and weird-looking. I thought it looked like my skull was made of smoke and started humming "Within You Without You" involuntarily, thinking of the Beatles in India with the Maharishi and hookah pipes.

All I can say is: thank goodness for good friends.

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Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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