I mean having root canals, teeth pulled, or any procedure that causes your mouth to smoke like a brush fire should be banned. But sadly, that is not the case.
I woke up one night this past week with a bit of a toothache. That’s odd I thought to myself. I had a checkup recently and they found no problems. But the fact remained, my jaw was hurting a little.
I got up and drank some buttermilk and cornbread and tossed down a couple Advil and the next morning it seemed like an unpleasant dream.
Then a few nights later, the same thing happened again, so I made a appointment to see my dentist.
She tapped on my teeth like she was playing a xylophone but none of them hurt. She then took some X-rays. After close inspection, she took a tiny needle-like implement shaped like a scythe, and gouged under one of my bridges. Hmmm she mused, “How long has this bridge been in?”
I told her I got it when Carter was in the White House. She failed to see the humor in my quip.
I doubt she was born when Carter was president, I though to myself. She looked really young, but then most people look younger to me these days.
But I digress.
After studying the X-ray she saw two potential problems. She recommended I go to an endodontist.
I saw the endodontist on Monday and he looked younger than my regular dentist, so I didn’t bother hitting him with the “Carter was in the White House” gag. After more X-rays, he said my back tooth which had a crown, needed a root canal.
He came out with a needle as big as a bicycle hand pump and shot me full of Novocain. After a few minutes, he asked if my jaw felt numb. I sounded like I’d drank too much tequila when I drooled, “It wheels murty nung.”
Then he put what sounded like a wood chipper or perhaps a stump grinder in my mouth to get through the crown and down to the roots.
When he finished up, I stopped to settle the bill at the front desk. My portion after the insurance, was enough to buy a nice flatscreen TV.
Then today it was back to my regular dentist to finish the job. It seems the old bridge had to come off, one of the jaw teeth was badly decayed and had to come out, then she would fit me with a new bridge in a month or so when everything healed up.
She had one of the women who worked in bookkeeping to come in and break the bad news about what this work would cost, above what the insurance would pay. She spoke like a grief counselor as she explained all the charges.
“So, do you want to have the work done,” she asked. What I wanted to say is, “No, I think I’ll live the rest of my natural life in excruciating pain.” But instead I whipped out my debit card and she scurried off as if she’d won the lottery. I could almost hear her say “Woo hoo, now we can ALL go to the beach this weekend.”
Obviously I’m having fun with my tooth-worker friends. They were all very professional and they can’t help the fact that insurance pays so little. But I got to thinking. What do people do that don’t have insurance, or the money to pay what the insurance company doesn’t pay?
I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of people these days that go without treatment because they can’t pay.
I am grateful that we’ve been in a position to pay for problems when they arise — but WE won’t be going to the beach this weekend.