maintenance costs

i don’t even know where to begin. preventive care is supposed to do just that. prevent shit from happening. things like:  taking your car in for regular oil changes, annual eye exams, well woman visits, dental cleanings.  i visit the dentist every six months, without fail. and i keep all my other health checks as well.  i noticed a few weeks ago that my tooth, the one with the crown was giving me trouble. i visit my dentist and he takes an x-ray. says it’s inconclusive, but there’s a dark spot he’s not sure about. gives me a local antibiotic, tells me the next step might be a root canal retreatment, and sends me on my way. 7 days later, the dull ache is still there. i call back and head to see an endodontist about a root canal retreatment.

endodontist: you have a lot of decay beneath the crown.  i won’t know how much until we look but you could lose the tooth.

me: (disbelief)

endodontist: you seem upset by this news.  what did your dentist tell you?

me: (after gathering myself) i visit my dentist every 6 months. i’m struggling to understand how it is that he never caught this decay that you said has been building over time.

endodontist: i can’t answer that. do you have other questions for me?

me: what are my options?

endodontist: well, we need to see how deep the decay is.  (shows me the x-ray and points out the decay) if it’s too deep we have to extract it.  you need to talk to your dentist about options.

me: such as?

endodontist:  an implant or a bridge.

me: explain a bridge.

endodontist: (exasperated) a bridge impacts the extracted tooth and the teeth on either side. but you need to speak with your dentist about options. i don’t do that. i specialize in retreatment.

me: i see. so what is the timing for all of this?

endodontist: again, you need to talk to your dentist.  i would recommend you do that quickly. and watch what you eat on that side, keep the area clean and flossed, and use a rinse.

me: (disbelief) ok. thank you. i hope that you can understand why i’m frustrated by this. it’s not like this is my first dental appointment in 3 years. i go regularly so to learn of something like this…

endodontist: sure. well, let’s see if i can call him now.

the in-take nurse sees me walk toward the door and asks me to wait.  she looks at my face.

nurse:  you look upset.

me:  i am.

i step into the waiting area while they get my dentist on the line. the endodontist returns and tells me that my dentist is caught up on everything and that i should get an appointment right away. the other receptionist makes a call to get me an appointment.  i express to the endodontist that i’d like to line up all my appointments (treatment, possible extraction, implant) so that i’m not walking around with a hole in my head. he doesn’t blink. he repeats himself, talk with your dentist about your options.

is this the end of the world? no.  is this a vital organ? no. is this my best feature? yes. could this have been prevented or at the very least identified before now? absofuckinglutely. and that’s where the anger comes in.  i did what i was supposed to do.  i made my regular visits, i flossed, brushed, got charged for x-rays and yet they found nothing until the situation is dire. am i worried about paying for this? no. do i have insurance? yes. and it will be maxed out as soon as they finish the first part of the procedure especially with all these consultation visits. do i still feel some pain? yes. a dull, annoying ache. am i still pissed? fuck yea.

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