Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A trip to the dentist

A. told me that she ended up with something like 8 cavities after Finn was born. Having really great teeth and only one cavity in my past, I am determined that this will not happen to me. So I scheduled an appointment with BigDentist, a place I've been to probably 3 or 4 times in the last year and a half.

I already have a grudge against BigDentist because it always seems like they want me to pay out of pocket for some service that I really don't need. Now, I do pay for the stuff I can't live without. Exhibit A (that's for you Mommy, Esq!) is my mouth guard purchased the summer of 2007 for a cost of $400. I am a nighttime teeth clencher and it was starting to cause deep grooves in my teeth. Best money I ever spent! I can't sleep without it more (totally sexy, no?) and it cured me of headaches I didn't even know I had. Until I started using it I didn't realize I was waking up with a slight headache every day. Crazy.

What kills me is when someone at BigDentist tells me I need to pay $60 for a special bacteria treatment because of some stupid thing that could, potentially, down the road result in a cavity. I brush twice a day and floss religiously. I'm probably better than 90% of the patients they see and they still want me to pay for stuff not covered by insurance. I realize they have to make a living but come on! They get money at least twice a year from my dental insurance. And they totally play the fear factor. When I refused an optional treatment they wrote it up in my records and made me sign it. How crazy is that?!?

I had already been considering a switch but for right now they have all my records and I can't get new films for obvious reasons. So I figured one last trip and then I'd find a new dentist after the baby arrives. Hopefully one where there are weekend hours or at least appointments that can be scheduled earlier than 10 AM or later than 4 PM. Dentistry is such a scam. Even my OB has better hours!

BigDentist cancelled my first appointment because their hygienist was out sick. OK. Fine. Although it is BigDentist, shouldn't there be other people to do the work? So I rescheduled for a Friday morning during my vacation. I arrived about 10 minutes early which is standard for me. I was told that no one could see me and they called me to cancel my appointment. Needless to say, I was not happy and I threw a hissy fit.

Me: You already cancelled on me once and now that I'm here you want to do it again? No. That is unacceptable.
Receptionist: According to my records we left two messages for you.
Me: Obviously you didn't because I'm here. And I got the messages the last time you cancelled on me.
Receptionist: Our records said we did.
Me: I am not getting into an argument about this.
Receptionist: We don't have a hygienist here and never do on Fridays
Me (thinking): What the f&%ck? Why did you schedule me then?
Me: Who is in today?
Receptionist: Our dentist is here.
Me: Ask her to do it.
Receptionist: Can I send you to another location and have someone there do it.
Me: No. I'm here already. I expect to be seen.
Receptionist: I'll see what I can do.

The result? Success! The dentist bitched a bit about doing it (nicely since she is a senior partner and I'm a patient) but she cleaned my teeth and made sure I had no cavities developing. Her demeanor has almost changed my mind about switching practices. Of course, whenever I go I deal mostly with the receptionists and hygienists and only see a dentist for 5 minutes. So I'll probably still switch for my next check up.

Anyone else have issues with their dentist? I feel like I'm particularly cursed because my childhood dentist was not very good either. Our affectionate nickname for him was Dr. Death. It's hard to find reviews online for dentists because there are so many of them. Feel free to pass along any advice about finding a good dentist. I suppose I should try and find one that also has a pediatric dentist on hand...


Helen said...

I had a major hissy fit at the dentist I've been at my whole life at the end of the summer, and he's family......I told the associate (who I like far much better) that I no longer want to be my uncle's patient. What does that tell you?

LauraC said...

I had my first EVER cavity less than a year ago, and it was under a proactive filling I had put in when I was 7 (deep grooves). The dentist really jacked up the filling and I had to go back three times.

Then I was flossing my teeth a couple of months later and half my tooth fell out.


Mommy, Esq. said...

I go to a BigDentist because it has Saturday and night hours and is near work. Plus I love the hygienist- that is key since you see him/her the most. I don't think I've ever seen the same dentist twice and the place is kind of run down. Plus they make me pay extra for white fillings - who does that these days? Oh, well.

G. said...

I agree - it's all about the hygenist. I had one back in my old town who had a sister named Gretchen so we were golden. I found a new dentist in Fredericksburg just by checking out websites - I picked on within walking distance to my house and an all female staff. Girl power. Not picked logically at all. It's hard to find dentists if you don't really know people to ask. Do any of your work colleagues have recommendations?

Oh, and MommyEsq, my old dentist used to charge extra for white fillings too. I had to have one (when a poor grad student) and opted for silver and he refused - just gave me white for the same price...

Natalie said...

how about 1-800-dentist?

Helen said...

The white fillings cost more, and they also break down faster (ahem, I know from experience). They basically don't recommend them for me anymore. So try to reserve the white fillings for the front teeth, and use silver in the back.

jerseygirl77 said...

Stacey, does your area have any publication that does a "Top Doctors" type survey? That is how I found our current dentist, as well as other docs we have seen (Washingtonian Magazine's list). I think you should find a dentist office that treats you as a VALUED CUSTOMER. And FWIW, our dentist does all the cleanings himself and he is *awesome* with the kids. Shop around... I'm sure you will find someone who cares about providing quality service.