Monday, April 10, 2006

Healthcare - bah!

I'm starting to have negative feelings about *everything* related to health care. On top of my old insurance company's latest antics, I had a less than desirable experience at my new dentist today.

When I signed up with Blue Cross last month, I went ahead and splurged for the dental care too. Since moving to California, I've been paying out of pocket... which translates to slightly less cleanings per year.

Anyhow, the entire experience was fishy. The place is called "Santa Monica Dental" and when I made the appointment, I wanted to be sure that it wasn't some weird group practice, so I found their web site online. The website featured a young woman dentist with a challenging last name. I assumed that's why she went with the generic name. When I called to make the appointment, I found out that today, I would only be having an exam and that I'd come back again for a cleaning. That was odd, but hey - I've never had my teeth cleaned in CA before.

When I arrived this morning, I wasn't sure that I made it to the right place because the name on the door was a man's name. When I finally made it back to the room, I noticed that the office wasn't that clean or well kept. The sink had dried "water" around it and the wallpaper was peeling off the walls. Then, the hygentist came in... he took EIGHT x-rays of my teeth - four of them were with my fingers holding the little films in place in my mouth. I have never had more than four x-rays at a dentist AND I have NEVER had my hands in the photos.

Then, the "dentist" came in. She was about my age with a nose ring, dyed blond hair, designer jeans and cowboy boots. She is NOT the woman from the web photos. (Before this next part, keep in mind that before moving to CA, I have had regular cleanings and received tremendous praise at the dentist for my entire life). First, she found that I had no cavities - that's good. I rarely ever have them, so that's nice. Then, she told me that I have developed gum disease and that it's probably starting to cause bone loss in my teeth and that I can't just have a normal cleaning - I'll need a deep cleaning where they inject you with novicane and scrape your teeth under the gums. Yeow - this is new!

Then, she continues to tell me that I should get invisiline braces to straighten my bottom teeth and that she can refer me to her boss who does invisiline braces. Interesting thing - I actually had a consultation for invisiline back in TN. The dentist there told me that I'm not an ideal candidate, they probably won't work on my teeth, and that they're twice as expensive and take longer anyway. Interesting. When I told the SM dentist that I couldn't afford them right now, she was a little irritated. She even told the hygentist, "I told her she needs this, but she won't do it."

Then, she told me that I should have my tiny TINY tiny little wisdom tooth removed. It's the only wisdom tooth I've ever had and it just grew in about 3 years ago. My 2 honest and reliable dentists (one in OK and one in TN) have both told me that there is no need to have it removed. It's tiny and it's not touching anything... and it would be way more trouble than what it's worth to take it out. When I told them SM dentist that I might consider having it removed at a later time, but not right now, she told me that I am compromising all of the teeth around it.

Then, she told me that I really need to have my teeth whitened at the office. Interesting, but my two dentists (OK and TN again) have told me time and time again that if I WANT to have whitening, that I should do it at home myself with a kit from the grocery store. They have told me that this gets very close to the same results, but costs $20 instead of $500. They have always told me that if I really want my teeth to be whiter, that I can come in, but they don't recommend it. When I told the SM dentist that I can't afford this right now, she said something to the affect of, "but you need it." Yeah, I need it like a new car...

Then, the receptionist came in to discuss my insurance with me. The "deep cleaning" the dentist recommended wasn't covered under my insurance and would therefore cost me an additional $500 to have my teeth cleaned. What a surprise. So of course, I just said "Nope, I can't do that right now. It will have to be a normal cleaning for the $5." She told the hygentist who was a little shocked.

I then asked the receptionist if I would be making an appointment for my cleaning - she said, "well, if you can wait 5 minutes, we can clean them today." Uhh... so much for what they told me on the phone.

The cleaning experience wasn't my most positive either. While I was sitting in the chair, I was thinking, "I wonder why more men don't clean teeth" and then I realized why I would prefer not to go through it again myself... he was incredibly rough with me and his hands were just too big.

As I left the office, I paid my $5 and saw the dentist who would no longer look me in the eyes because she was so annoyed. I'm glad however that I didn't listen... I've never had a sketchy dentist experience before, but I will mark this down. It felt much more like I went to a used car lot than a dental office.

Did I mention that I never actually met the dentist whose name was on the door???


1 comment:

Jake of All Trades said...

I read somewhere before that dentists are among the most dishonest professions, most dental work is unnecessary, and the recommended twice yearly cleanings actually do more harm than good for people who brush regularly.

It went on to say that even the honest dentists suggest unnecessary procedures because that was how they were taught, without questioning the underlying reasons, theories, and needs behind them.

Not trying to give dentists a bad name, but seemed interesting and relevant.