In order to truly understand my story, you should really read my first dental nightmare blog, How My Dentist Diagnosed Me With Lupus Without Ever Looking In My Mouth.
I learned a lot from that incident, and that is that I needed a new dentist. So, I went with a combination of my gut and a few references and found someone new. That should be the end of the story, right?
For a long time, that was the end of the story. My new dentist was friendly, had knowledgeable staff and fixed my crown when it fell out again. Things were good.
About 10 days ago, my crown decided to break in half. Yes, the crown that was replaced 3 times. I didn’t panic. I had long ago given up on the dream of my previous dentist being able to pull themselves together and install a tooth that wouldn’t come out. I had resolved myself to paying the new dentist to replace my crown.
It was sticker shock when receptionist told me that my portion of the fee would be $428. I had a brief moment where I wanted to walk in the old dentist’s office and demand someone learn how to make and install a crown. But I didn’t do that. I bucked up and paid.
A few hours later, the billing person called and said she had spoken to my insurance company. Because the crown was only 3 1/2 years old, they would not cover the cost. I felt a sudden urge to create a scene. But I didn’t do that.
I mostly didn’t make a scene because the billing person gave me options. One, I could pay the balance, which was about another $400 and have it installed. The other option I was given, is that I could wait until March, at which time my insurance would cover. Additionally, I could file a grievance with the insurance company against the Lupus dentist. Understanding that I would have a temporary crown in until March, I opted to wait.
Yesterday, I bit down on something and my temporary crown snapped in half. While I was at work. Talking to a co-worker. I quickly covered my mouth and ran into my office to put it back on. It wouldn’t go back on. So I called the new dentist.
This seemed to be no big deal. A dental assistant (the one who had made the first tooth) called me back promptly and scheduled an appointment for 4 o’clock. Life was good. Until I got to the office.
Right after I sat down in the waiting room, the receptionist came out and calmly explained that my new temporary tooth would cost $428. No. Just no.
I’ll admit that I have some level of post traumatic stress related to my dental woes. Anyone would. But I just paid $428 for the temporary tooth that broke after 9 days. I started to lose my mind. This could not be happening.
The receptionist quickly called for reinforcements after I explained that I was not paying them $428. A minute later, the dental assistant who had installed the broken temp came out to reason with me. The conversation went something like this.
Me: Why would I pay $428 for a tooth that lasted a week? Who would do that?
Dental Assistant: It was a temporary tooth. It’s not supposed to last.
Me: So, it’s supposed to break after a week? And then I’m supposed to get another one?Until March? I’m not paying $428.
Dental Assistant: I told you it would last 10 days. That, if you went ahead and got the crown, it would be 10 days until the permanent would come back from the lab.
Me: (At this point, my voice becomes like a wounded hyena). You told me 10 days until the tooth came back if I didn’t wait until March. You did not say the tooth would last 10 days. I am waiting until March! Why would I agree to have a temporary if it was going to break after 9 days and cost me $428?
She seemed perplexed at this point, as if this were my problem. I continued…
Me: I am not paying $428. The tooth lasted a week. I want my fucking tooth fixed.
Yes. I did it. I dropped the F bomb in the middle of the dental office. Suddenly, she told me to come back to get the new tooth. And I told her that I wasn’t paying $428. And she was all business. Then the billing woman came back to ask if I wanted them to have the permanent crown made. I said that was fine, but I’m not paying $428. I had a new temporary tooth installed within 10 minutes.
I did attempt to calmly explain myself to the dental assistant, having it new been the 4th time this tooth was being replaced. She was having none of it. She told me to wait an hour to eat and sent me on my way, through a crowded office.
At this point I was shaking. So, I did what any person who had just almost paid $428 for a tooth that lasted 9 days would do. I went to the Kennett Square Inn to get a glass of wine.
You’d think the story would end there but it didn’t. After waiting an hour and 45 minutes to eat, the new temporary tooth snapped off when I bit into a roll. In the Kennett Square Inn. With people around.
I called the answering service and she asked if this was a true emergency. To which I replied, “My front tooth just broke off in a restaurant. I’d call that an emergency.” The actual dentist called me back and at 7:30 this morning, he installed my third temporary tooth in 10 days.
I did not pay $428.