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Posted by David on May 22, 2000 at 00:54:02:

In Reply to: Too broke to fix my broken teeth! posted by Brian on May 20, 2000 at 00:18:37:

: Something I haven't seen mentioned much on this board is the prohibitive cost of root canals and crowns. I am 30, with a wife and two children. We make about 50 thousand a year. Our medical insurance is good, Blue Cross/Blue Shield but the dental policy is terrible. It does cover extractions of course but you wind up looking like a hillbilly. I had an abscess a couple years ago and took out a loan to pay for a root canal. You can guess the next line...I lost the tooth anyways. Many insurance plans have very poor policies of covering what they take to be cosmetic procedures. My teeth are in terrible shape and I spend a lot of time worrying about how to PAY for all of the work I need to have done. My kids come first, and me, well, I just try not to smile too much. I can't imagine how hard it must be for those who make less money...another case of the people in this world without continuing to do without. They get extractions while the rest get bleached...sorry to complain. Anyone care to share your thoughts or experiences on this?
: Brian

Here are some suggestions:
1. You don't have to have all the work done right away, so
have a dentist get the cavities under control with temporary
fillings. Temporary fillings can hold up for anywhere from a
few months to 2-3 years (if you take good care of them).
2. You can have the permanent work done a little at a time
to fit your budget. The dentist might suggest crowns, but
perhaps fillings can be done. You'll have to press the dentist
for fillings since they make more money on crowns, but if
you find a compassionate one, they should be able to help
3. Try a local dental school, the fees are about 1/3 the cost
of private practice.
4. Keep up with the oral hygiene, yes this includes flossing.
An ounce of prevention.......
5. If you can find a young dentist, you might be able to get
them to work on an hourly basis than a per project basis. A
young dentist, with a new practice and bills to pay, may jump
at the opportunity to work for $150-185 per hour, rather than
have an empty chair, which pays nothing. Two to three fillings
per hour would be a good goal, which might be a 50% savings.

I am reminded of the case of a patient who was dirt poor. He
had no money, so we stalled on his case, did temporary fillings
to get the decay under control, replaced them as they wore out,
etc. Guess what, that not so lucky guy now makes a ton of
money at a new job, and he came back to our office in gratitude
for all the times we helped him out. And now he gets all of the
treatment he needs.

And if all else fails, maybe you can send one of your kids to dental
school someday!

Best wishes.

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