Monday, February 1, 2016

Dental Changes

I changed dentists this year, largely due to cost, and somewhat for the sake of convenience. When I changed insurance providers after leaving my job in 2013, I kept my same dentist even though it was out of network. It cost a little more, but not much. But this year the out-of-network fee was going to be higher, so I decided it was time for a change.
My new dentist is much closer, about a 10 minute drive instead of a half hour. (Back in 1998 when I first moved to the area, location was a factor in choosing my original dentist. But I've moved since then.) This office is in-network for my insurance, so all the preventative stuff is covered 100%, and other costs should be lower also. Not that the amount the insurance pays is any different, but as an in-network provider this office has an agreement that they won't charge additional costs directly to me. All I have to pay is the insurance deductible and the percentage that isn't covered.

I know some people have difficulty changing health care providers. Maybe you've been going to the same person for care over your entire life, or you just feel more comfortable with a particular provider. For me, that's never really been a concern. As long as my doctor or dentist or optometrist has the right credentials, and a quick search on the web doesn't turn up any major bad stuff, I'm happy to go to whoever can help.

My first cleaning visit to the new dentist office was in mid-January. The cleaning part went fine, but they found cavities. One wasn't much of a surprise...I'd been hearing from my previous dentist that they needed to keep an eye on one tooth during several previous visits. That had finally gotten bad enough to fill. But it was quite the surprise to hear that I had a total of seven (!) spots that needed filling. All but that first cavity were very small, and were detected using a tool which looks for decay inside grooves in the teeth, which can easily go unnoticed if not using that particular tool. (At least, that's how they explained it.)

Therefore, I got to make another visit to have all this decay removal and filling taken care of. Seven different dental issues (even small ones) made this by far the most complex dental procedure I'd ever had. I've been fortunate to have very little in the way of dental issues...never needed braces, only a few fillings, no wisdom teeth removal, no root canals. I'd been assured this would only take an hour or so, and they'd just need to numb one small part of my mouth, so I wasn't too concerned. Still, going to have your mouth poked and prodded is never something to look forward to.

As it turned out, the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure was the room temperature...way too cold for me. Had a couple of minor pains and some really annoying noises during the actual fillings, but nothing significant. Even the shot to numb that one section of my mouth was nothing more than a minor pinprick. Had I worn a sweater, it would have been no less comfortable than a standard cleaning visit. The whole thing was over in about 45 minutes.

I don't have the bill yet, but based on what the office folks said, it will probably end up costing around $900. The insurance pays about half of that. It's a fairly big outlay, but to avoid worse dental issues in the future, I consider it money well spent. And I can use my health savings account, so it's not money coming out of my regular finances.

So I'm back to full dental health, for the moment at least. And I shouldn't have to worry nearly as much about those grooves in the teeth, since the worst offenders have been filled now. With a little luck, it'll be a long time before I need a non-cleaning dental visit again.


  1. I can definitely relate to your experience. When I changed insurance I was forced to go to a new dentist that was actually closer to my home. I had the same thing happen, I needed multiple visits to take care of a few issues. I was actually surprised how much I liked my new dentist.

    Eunice Greer @ Downtown Dental SC

  2. Liked your blog. Interesting thoughts on changing dentists. I am in the process of changing healthcare providers and there are so many considerations to take into account. Costs, in/out of network, and of course personal relationship with the provider. I really liked the part about the cost being well spent, for dental work I could not agree more.

    Sylvester Mckenzie @ Cody Dental

  3. Great post. It was very insightful and relatable. I've been thinking about changing dentist too. My current dentist is great, however, I recently moved and his office is now about an hour from my house. I hate to leave him, as I've been with him for the past 10 or so years. But I suppose there are others out there!