A family trip...to the dentist!

In December we decided it was high time we all went to the dentist.  The girls had recently turned 4 and had never been, Andrew had only been once, and I hadn’t been for 3 years.  James was the only one who’d been semi-recently, but even he was due for a check-up.  We have insurance, there’s no reason not to go...it’s just that I’ve had some bad experiences with dentists in the past and I’m always apprehensive because I feel like they make things up in order to get more money.

The last dentist I went to told me I had 3 cavities that needed attention right away, but this was only after the hygienist informed him that my insurance would be running out in a week (when James was switching jobs).  The hygienist had just finished telling me he thought my teeth looked great and didn’t see any issues in the x-rays, but the idea that I might want to use my insurance while I had it made the dentist tell me I had some problems that I’d better address pronto.  That was 3 years ago, and I had a bad feeling about it.  The thing was, I didn’t have any pain whatsoever and felt like my teeth were fine.  I didn’t go back before our insurance was up, and then life happened and I felt too busy to get there (it was pretty hectic with twin infants/toddlers...still feels hectic most days but it really has only been in the past year really that I’ve felt like I can do certain things without it feeling like the biggest ordeal ever).  So I put it off and put it off till this December when James and I both decided that if we were going to take the kids for check-ups, we should be going, too.

Actually, it was my dad getting full dentures in November that really gave us the push we needed, because seeing first hand what that’s like to go through, we obviously don’t ever want that to happen to us.  (As an aside, my dad actually took care of his teeth in terms of brushing but unfortunately just had bad teeth genes and it was inevitable that this would happen to him one day).

A friend of mine referred us to the dentist she’s been going to for many years, and the office is fairly close to us so it just felt like everything was falling into place.  I was so nervous, but it ended up being a really positive experience, and while the girls both ended up having some issues, I didn’t feel like they were trying to swindle us at all.

I am proud to say that Andrew got a glowing report, no cavities and everything looks wonderful.  Unfortunately both the girls had cavities in their top front four teeth (yes, FOUR...sigh!) and Margaret also had a couple in her back molars.  The dentist said he wanted them to have x-rays to be sure of the extent of the issue, but their office isn’t equipped for little ones when it comes to getting the images, so we were referred to a pediatric dentist.  I was so stressed about the whole thing because I felt like it was my fault they got cavities.  I know that’s not the case, that we’ve done everything we can do and these things just happen, but I have felt really, really terrible about it nonetheless.  

In the meantime, I had my appointment a few days after the kids (on the very first blizzard day we experienced in early December, it was a bit crazy driving home!) and lo and behold, I found out I HAVE NO CAVITIES.  Even though I wasn’t experiencing any pain in my mouth, I was positive they would tell me I had at least 3 cavities, because that’s what I’d been told at the last dentist appointment I went 3 years ago.  Which means that that dentist was a total scam artist and I am disgusted to think that I could have gone back and spent money unnecessarily (since our insurance was only 70% at the time) and got fillings I didn’t actually need.  That makes me beyond mad, actually.  Every time I see the place I used to go to I feel my blood boil!!

So Andrew has no cavities, I have no cavities, and at James’ appointment he was told he has no cavities either!  Phew!!!  Another thing about the last dentist we saw, they also told James he needed something fixed on one of his teeth that would have cost us about $1500 (on top of what insurance would cover) and that he should deal with it immediately.  Since we obviously don’t have that kind of coin to throw down, we declined, and our new dentist told him it was a purely cosmetic issue and didn’t need to be done at all, and likely never would!  Seriously.  Can you imagine?!  It’s unbelievable that dentists get away with that.

A bit before Christmas we took the girls to their appointment with the pediatric dentist.  It went really well, all the staff were very kind and so good with the kids.  Emily wasn’t good about having x-rays done on her back teeth so that didn’t happen, but otherwise they were so brave and did so well at their appointments.  We were given various options of what we could do for both girls.  Emily has less cavities and they aren’t as severe as Margaret’s.  As well, her x-rays showed that she’s more likely to have her front teeth fall out sooner than Margaret’s will because the roots are much shorter on hers.  So we decided to hold off on getting her fillings done, and do Margaret’s first.  On January 5th she had an early morning appointment and got all of her fillings done in one visit.  It meant having to be sedated, not put right under but taking something that made her quite loopy.  It was very exhausting to me because of course I hated her having to be drugged up like that, and then I didn’t realize it till it was time for her appointment but I was expected to stay in the room for the entire procedure.  (I knew I'd be with her while the sedation took effect, but not to watch her get the actual fillings!) It was good in some ways, as of course I wanted to be there to comfort her (although she was so out of it, it really didn’t matter if I was there or not!) but it was also stressful watching the whole process.  The dentist and hygienist were so good with her though, which was great to witness.

It cost nearly $900 for all her work to be done (and that was going with a cheaper option, which we chose for one because of the price, but also because most of the teeth she had filled will be falling out within 2 years so it just didn’t make sense to us to spend a ton of money on something that she will lose soon anyway!  And it’s not like she was complaining about pain or anything).  Luckily our insurance covers 80% so we didn’t even pay $200 when all was said and done.  Phew!!  I don’t know what we would have done otherwise!  It’s crazy how expensive it is to go to the dentist.

So for now Margaret is done, although the front fillings can chip easily so I’m finding myself a bit stressed about that.  Luckily we can have them fixed free of charge if that happens, but it would still be stressful if that was the case.  As for Emily, we’ll keep waiting for now and see how it goes.  Hers wouldn’t be nearly as costly, but still...she’s more anxious than her sister and I worry about how it might affect her to have to go through something similar with the sedation.  

I still feel bad that they got cavities.  The only thing I can think of, other than bad genes which I really hope isn’t the case since I don’t want this to be a lifelong issue for them, is that where Andrew nursed and never had a bottle other than if James and I were going on a date which was a rarity, the girls took bottles with them to bed for far longer than they should have.  It was just the nature of having twins, for us it was better to do that than to literally never sleep and just have me feeding them round the clock (which it already felt like I was doing, as it was).  I couldn’t have handled it if they were just left to cry because I was already so sleep deprived as it was, we did the lesser of two evils!  It’s just that it may have contributed to their tooth decay because otherwise why would they both have cavities in their 4 front teeth, and Andrew has never had any?  I don’t know...the dentist said it possibly contributed but of course also not to feel bad about it because it is what it is and it's impossible to know the true cause.  At least we’re aware and the kids have all been brushing and flossing extra in hopes of preventing anything further.

I’m glad we found the dentist we did, and I’m relieved that at least the majority of us are cavity free.  Let’s hope it stays that way!


Eunice Greer said…
I'd say that's a very productive few days, and the amount you spent is totally worth it. I actually like to go to the dentist. I have gum disease and have to go every three months for a deeper cleaning. It can be very costly, but knowing that I am doing what I can to keep my teeth healthy feels great.
Elizabeth said…
I don't dread the dentist nearly as much now that we've all been! I'm just hoping when my girls' adult teeth come in they're not prone to cavities like their baby teeth seem to be :S

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