13 February 2009

Crown Me

I've always hated going to the dentist -- for me, having someone poke around my mouth with their instruments of torture is the last thing I want to do. Honestly, I think I'd rather have a gallbladder attack again.

I've been through the revolving door of dentists -- when I find one I like, our insurance changes and s/he isn't on new plan. *sigh* So I ended up with a local dentist who Mark went to and let him torture me in 1001 different ways.

In August/September 2007, I had an old crown removed and replaced with a new one. The old one had been there for 15+ years but had to come off because it had cracked. I went through the whole process - scrape, scrape, drill, drill, make the mold, put on the temporary crown, wait for the permanent crown come in, remove temp crown, scrape, scrape, drill, drill, put on the permanent crown. This whole process took about 4 weeks and even though I had insurance, the damn thing still cost me nearly $600 when all was said and done.

Fast forward to early September 2008 and while I'm eating lunch, I feel a strange sensation - like a tooth was completely exposed. I spit out my crown - realizing it's the one that was put on about a year ago. I call up the dentist and explain the situation (as well as the fact that I no longer have dental insurance) and am told to come in that evening. I go in, the crown is re-cemented and I'm charged out the ying-yang for what took all of 5 minutes (10 tops). I didn't expect to pay the amount I did; especially as the dentist had put that crown on only a year ago. Even the hygienist/receptionist was somewhat appalled at the charge. This wasn't my first unpleasant experience with this dentist and I told her right then and there that neither me or my husband would be back.

Now we're in 2009 - we have dental insurance again thanks to my husband. As I'm eating lunch yesterday (pancakes, if you must know) I feel that strange sensation again. I spit into my palm and what do I see - the damn crown. Again. At this point I know I'm not going back to the original dentist, but I haven't been to a new one since. I have an appointment for next Friday with a new dentist, so I give their office a call. I'm told to call on Friday (today) morning to see if they can squeeze me in.

I called this morning and I'm told to come in at 10:30 AM. I'm greeted warmly by the receptionist and fill out the necessary paperwork. I wait for a short period and am called back. The hygienist is warm and bubbly and we talk about the incident. I was able to pop the crown back in place, but it's loose and neither of us can get it off. The dentist comes in and with a little bit of effort the crown comes off and he gets a look at my tooth. First thing he says, "not a lot of tooth left there..." so he orders some x-rays of the tooth. While it's not affecting the nerve (yet!), he checks to make sure there's no decay (scrape, scrape, drill, drill) and all's well. Yea!

He re-affixes the crown and tells me that they're going to submit to the insurance company to find out if they'll pay for a new crown since this is less than 5 years old. However, if I do need a new crown, I'm gonna have to go for a crown lengthening procedure. I had this done about 5 years ago for a crown on the other side of my mouth -- it's basically reshaping the gum line to expose more tooth so a crown has more to grab on to. It's not exactly fun, but I've not had a single issue with that crown. (Different dentist than the one who put this wonky one on...)

To say I don't like dentists is an understatement, but I think I've got a bit of a crush on this one. He's got a great chairside manner -- very reassuring (which is good for a gal like me who gets pretty worked up over even a cleaning) -- and he's pretty easy on the eyes. The office staff was wonderful too -- I think I might like this practice very much.

So now I wait to see if the insurance will pay for a new crown (if needed) and/or root canal (if needed). But if this crown stays on he won't do anything as long as there's no decay underneath and as long as I have no pain. As of today, it's good. I go back next Friday for a cleaning and full set of x-rays. Honestly, I've had my share of doctors/dentists/x-rays/lab work in the past two months to last me a lifetime.

I'm still quite upset about the shoddy work that the first dentist did -- even he noted there wasn't much tooth but never did he mention a crown lenghtening. In hindsight, I wonder if I had had that done if this crown would have been secure? But I guess there's no use in wondering about it now. I'll wait and see if this holds this time around - if not, we'll see what it'll cost me to have a new one put on. Glad I tossed a nice chunk of money into my Flex Spending Account -- between surgery and a crown, I might wipe it out before the end of March.

1 comment:

Nic said...

I'm not keen on the idea of dentists either, but I'm fortunate in that I've been seeing the same guy since I was 12, and he's lovely - even when I lived 200 miles away, I'd come back and see him on trips to my parents. The one time I saw a different emergency dentist, I left the consulting room in tears because of the pain, after being told I was exaggerating...

Crowns aren't the cheapest of procedures - if you are lucky to have an NHS dentist, it's about £120, but privately, you're at looking at £300+ - but my dentist at least guarantees his work. He's reluctantly had to change to private practice because of the new NHS contracts, but he really tries to minimise charges!