Monday, June 11, 2012

Stop Breaking Down: The Corrosive Traits of Soft Middle Age

It starts with a Buster Bar, of all things.

That delicious, frozen ice milk treat on a stick, loaded with hot fudge and Spanish peanuts, one of which ended up breaking off a piece of my dental work. It was at this point where my hatred of the Dairy Queen Corporation began. “Why must you make such delicious goodies?” I asked, knowing very well that it had been over seven years since I had last seen a dentist.

I hate ‘em.

But who doesn’t, right? Unless you’re married to one, then I don’t think it’s off the mark to say that the dentist industry is probably the most loathed group in the country. But we have no idea how to fix our own teeth-the best we came up with is tying a string to the doorknob and the other to your aching tooth, slamming the door to complete the extraction. So we’re stuck with these asswipes who tisk tisk at the fact that high fructose corn syrup is eating away our teeth and gums while charging us $250 for “scaling and cleaning” all of those years of Skittles living around your gum line. The price doesn’t include the nearly $200 in toothbrushes and “prescription” mouth rinses they want you buy, making the entire new dentist office more like a retail space, pushing these add-ons and revenue makers during a time when you just want your tooth to get fixed.

This was all detailed for me when I met who can only be described as the Finance Director, as she handed me a bunch of brochures about payment plans and installment options. I saw that there were some interest rates above 20% and felt bad for anyone who had to get assfucked like that just to get their grill tinkered with.

My story is this: I fucked up when it came to dental insurance. For years, my wife was our family’s complete provider of health and dental insurance. Her plan was better than my company’s, so we were content with the benefits of her insurance.
Early last winter, my wife lost her job. I hastily contact my company’s employee relations department and did the obligatory “lifestyle change” paperwork that granted me the ability to get their shitty insurance.

I looked at the price of the health insurance and considered how over half of our annual income would be cut and with prices like the ones I was seeing in the monthly deductions column, it looked to be a thin year economically.

So I left the dental insurance blank.

Fast forward to that Buster Bar eating incident which led my wife to declare, “That’s what we have insurance for!” in the most innocent way, that I knew what would come next would make me look like a moron.

I should tell you that my hatred of dentists is justified. They were with me throughout my life, a result of the nice, soft Swedish teeth of my Mother’s side, where dentures became fixtures on nightstands.

I got a metal chair throw at my face when I was in high school and it split my two front teeth. The week after that incident, I got mono. I’m pretty sure that my dentist would have definitely picked up my germs if he didn’t practice Dr. Lister’s methods

I got my wisdom teeth removed when I was 14, discovering that when you take more than the prescribed number of codeine pills your oral surgeon advised, it made it virtually impossible-regardless of what your girlfriend did-to maintain an erection.

And most recently, I got a large chunk of my mouth tweaked up a bit, cosmetically erasing the chair damage on my chompers and capping up a few problem kids. Hell, I even donated an extra $200 for a Zoom whitening treatment based on their meek sales pitch.

I’ve dropped a lot of money into my teeth, and I felt I deserved a reprieve from them. So for the past seven years I’ve stayed away from anyone trying to jam their fingers in my mouth.

But as I began to spit out little bits of dental work onto the palm of my hand, I knew that my tension around these people who have to but put aside for a quick visit.

I chose my current dentist because of feedback from some of my wife’s coworkers. It’s a relatively new location, but it’s clear on the other side of town, which is a pain. The good news is that there are plans for an expansion that would include a location much closer to me, which makes me look like a proactive motherfucker.

By the time I’m done with the inordinate amount of xrays, it was on to my free exam which I assumed would also entail a quick repair of my damaged tooth.

The dentist, a soft-spoken Indian with translucent white teeth, began to politely advise me on proper dental hygeniene, a similar script to all of the other dentists who told their own versions of Flossing 101.

Except this one is a bit firmer in his approach, suggesting that it won’t make sense to initiate a treatment plan if I’m not going to follow it. I found his bedside manner a little off-putting but then again, everything he was saying was the truth.

Much to my dismay, part of what he was saying was “There ain’t nothin’ I can do for your fuckin’ tooth right now.” as he rattled off a litany of dental issues which was later confirmed by the aforementioned Financial Director to the tune of over $7,000.

She also was kind enough to suggest the Iggy Pop option, which would entail removing a large portion of my ivory and replacing it with what Martha “The Big Mouth” Raye once called “dentures.”

I went with a less dramatic option, the good old crown replacement which means my existing teeth will be whittled down into utilitarian stubs while artificial caps will be gently sealed on top of them.

Now this is the same approach I took less than a decade ago, but according to my new dentist, I’ve managed to fuck those up already.

Who to trust?

And who to pay? That seven large figure is out of pocket, but the financial lady has assured me that she can find me some discounts even without using their Rent-A-Center payment plan. I decide to start the treatment plan but spread it out over the course of a few years to give me time to keep my cash flow in check until I get back on my dental plan during open enrollment.

No comments: