Friday, April 13, 2018

The joys of dentistry - NOT!

Way back when, as the result of an old injury and some not-very-well-made repairs, I ended up getting all my upper teeth removed, and was fitted with a full upper denture.  The first one (made in South Africa) lasted quite a while, and the second one (made in Louisiana) did OK.  Of course, one's jaw shape changes over time, particularly as one gets older, and one needs to have new dentures made. I had that done for the third time in Nashville, the year before Miss D. and I moved to Texas. The denture was never very satisfactory compared to the first two.  It didn't seem to fit as well, and moved more as I chewed.  Not a comfortable feeling, but money was tight at the time, so I lived with it as long as I could.

Last year the denture cracked.  I had it repaired by the local laboratory, and asked them to put in a piece of reinforcing mesh while they were at it.  I wasn't impressed by their workmanship, and the denture ended up going back and forth three times until they got it sort-of-right.  Oh, well . . . one learns to live with it.  However, last Friday, eating (of all things!) a piece of soft bread with butter, there came a loud CRACK from my mouth.  You guessed it.  Busted denture again - and not even biting into something worthwhile, like steak!

I went in to the dentist on Monday, and asked about repairing it, only to be told that it's been fixed too often.  No dice.  Oh, well . . . time to invest in a new denture again (and at denture prices today, they really are an investment).  This time I've specified a steel liner, rather than a plastic or polymer one, in the hope that it'll last longer and hold its shape better.  However, that also makes them more expensive, and delays completion by a couple of weeks longer than usual.  (I could always specify a gold or platinum liner, of course.  Why not?  It couldn't make them that much more costly!)

Meanwhile, Miss D. has been having fun (NOT!) for several months with a nagging ache in her cheek.  Over time, it resolved to the upper jaw, and she went in to the same dentist for a root canal and crown.  (They price that procedure as if they were implanting one of the Crown Jewels, for heaven's sake!)  The root canal did not go well.  She continued to have severe pain, and after a week, went back to check on that.  Further X-rays revealed that there's a probable extra nerve root, well hidden and hard to locate.  The dentist has therefore referred her to an endodontist, and refunded what he charged for the root canal procedure so far.  That helps, but even so, we'll have to find a couple of thousand for her root canal re-treatment, endodontic costs being what they are.

So, we're both eating soft foods for an extended period, and Miss D. is popping pain-killers to boot.  (Fortunately, I like soup, and can make a good one when required.)  At times like these I'm grateful that we've forced ourselves to live a financially disciplined life, and build up an emergency cash reserve.  It's about to take a hammering!



August said...

It might be cheaper overseas, like various other medical procedures.

Phil said...

Oh, do I feel for both of you, especially the Mrs.
I have a dentists playground in my mouth and as I get older, all of my teeth are literally falling apart.
I just has two adjoining lower right molars pulled last Monday, complete with collagen plugs to fill the holes and stitches to close the wound. I had been suffering intensely for weeks and finally couldn't take it anymore. When they were all done, they basically patted me on the rump and said have a nice day. No antibiotics or pain relief were issued.
I went to a new dentist last year for a few visits and had a crown put on another tooth. The guy did his comprehensive analysis and came back with a quote of $24,000 to fix all my teeth.
I just laughed in his face.
Soon I will be looking at dentures myself.
I hope you and the Mrs. both find relief.
Mouth pain is completely debilitating when it gets bad.

Will said...

Had a friend who went to Thailand for dental implants. He told me it was 1/3 the cost of US work, and the quality was equal. He died a couple years ago from diabetes, so I can't check on details. He liked the country, from travels there during the war.

BTW, I had a tooth that ran roots into a sinus cavity. That gave me sinus infections for many years, until I broke the tooth. That's when it was discovered the roots went so deep. I sneezed and blew the socket plug out of the jaw cavity for confirmation.

Annie Mouse said...

are you close to a dental college/school? ask at nearest large teaching hospital.

Mad Jack said...

I'm very sorry to hear it. I've had problems with my chops since I turned 40, and I'm phobic about going to the dentist. It takes three milligrams of Xanax to get me into the chair. My good old dentist used to give me a running start across the parking lot, the deal being that if I made it to my car I didn't have to go to the dentist. He had a tranquilizer rifle and was a good shot. These days, what with the anti-freedom zealots and all, most dentists won't even think about something like that.

All levity aside, I really do feel for you and yours.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

My teeth appear to be made of second rate gutta-percha; they have always been trouble and I have multiple gaps. Fortunately I have a dentist whose office is a pleasure to go to (I actually visit between problems). She's a little expensive, but totally worth it.

Local to Doylestown PA, if anybody cares.

Old NFO said...

So sorry to hear that. I'm doing red beans and rice, so you should be able to eat it.

Reg T said...

Be aware that it is not uncommon for this kind of pain being caused by trigeminal neuralgia. It is the fifth cranial nerve, and can cause excruciating pain. If she is unable to get relief from a root canal, check with a neurosurgeon. An MRI can usually definitively diagnose trigeminal neuralgia if that is what is responsible fore the pain. It is worth doing _before_ subjecting her to additional dental surgery.

I had trigeminal _and_ glosso-pharyngeal (Cranial Nerves 5 and 9) neuralgias at the same time, so I know a little bit about this. I was put on anti-convulsant medication ("epileptic" medication used to treat nerve pain - e.g. Tegretol or Neurontin) for a number of months, which helped with the pain, but caused memory issues. Consequently, I researched the various treatments available for TN, and chose microvascular decompression. I had great results, and the only deficit was developing mild tinnitus in my right ear (the side the surgery was done on). That was in 1997, and I am still free from any cranial nerve pain.

Trigeminal neuralgia (also known by its old name, Tic Douloureux, may not cause severe at first, but when it is full-blown, it can cause thoughts of suicide, due to the extreme pain, which is not relieved by opioids or other pain medications. I hope this is not the problem for Miss D, but it might be good to check it out before more dental surgery.

bart simpsonson said...

He refunded the root canal cost because he was worried about a lawsuit. I had the same thing happen to me a couple months ago, I broke a repaired tooth too badly to fix, and the extracting dentist wrenched on it for 15 or 20 minutes, breaking the tooth next to it as well! It may have already been compromised, so he said he would not charge for the 2 extractions and sent me to an oral surgeon because he could not get the root tips out. The oral spent 5 minutes getting them out and now I am about 600$ lighter for HIS work. So my partial needed modification for 2 new teeth. Such is life.

deb harvey said...

go to mexico.
or go to norbet in serbia. very cheap including airfare and hotel.
they are norwegian company may have outlets elsewhere but serbia is very reasonable. when comparing the cost here you may be able to go to europe and have money left over from the very excellent care .
go on the computer and compare and contrast.

a friend of ours had all his work done in europe. there are still some reasonable prices in easern eroe.

Sherm said...

Other than a heart surgeon, an endodontist is the highest compensated client I did taxes for this year. I enjoy taking his money more than I'd enjoy paying his prices.

SQT said...

My dentist broke my crown and tried to cover it up by essentially gluing the tooth together and leaving it. Of course he left the practice shortly after. I ended up needing and implant and even with the new dentist comping the crown I ended up going through a years worth of procedures and paying over $4k for one tooth. Dentistry is highway robbery.

Gaffer said...

On average dentists make more money than physicians. In my state if you go to the dental regulators they refuse to release any data about individual practitioners. There is an open records law but they have successfully ignored it for years.
I hope you and your lady recover soon.

clark myers said...

I find implants worth the cost. I also believe that the cheaper and quicker implants are based on a more or less static analysis. It follows that finding an artist with implants who makes an allowance for changes over time is worth the time shopping and the extra money. For me this meant spreading the work over enough time to make getting it done overseas no savings. That said if it were to be done quickly or not all I'd get it done quickly and immediately start saving for the next time.

SQT said...

I do agree that implants are worth it. Mine is an upper tooth so it took a lot of time because I had to have a bone graft and a sinus lift. The good news is that it’s unlikely I’ll ever have any more trouble with the tooth and putting in a new crown is a super easy process with an implant compared to a real tooth.