Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If I Had a Hammer

I may be looking for advice, but first I'll whine a bit. You don't mind, I hope.

Over the weekend — naturally — I got a toothache from the pits of hell. It started in one spot and, by Monday morning, I couldn't tell where the pain originated as my entire left jaw, both up and down, was involved.

So I called my dentist right after posting yesterday morning and, praise be to God, there had been a cancellation and I was told to get right over there. Fine. Then several x-rays later, I am told that there is no cavity in the suspect tooth, but the nerve is dying and this will require either a root canal or an extraction. Not so fine. Really not so fine at all. A root canal will cost $2200 and the cap an additional $2500. So for the grand total of $4700, I can have my tooth back if the root canal doesn't fail, which they have always done in the past.

Okay, so I decide to have them make an appointment for an extraction and perhaps I'll go the implant route or perhaps I'll have a partial plate made. Partial plate?! Me?! Ackkkkk!!! The partial plate will be the least expensive and also the least satisfactory, I think.

So the question is this: what would you do? Have you had to deal with any of this stuff yet? What was your approach? (I am self-paying...no dental insurance.)

Oh, by the way, the extraction is not scheduled until tomorrow. TOMORROW. Does anyone have a ball-pene hammer?

32 comments:

  1. Yep, I've been through this several times. I've always gotten the root canal and the crown. My good friend always goes with extraction and then an implant which is more expensive and requires two rather unpleasant procedures instead of just one.

    The last time I was faced with this I told my dentist that I'd just get the tooth pulled and not bother with anything else. He explained that I had to have something done or the shape of my face would change, caving in a bit where the tooth was missing.

    I do hope your dentist gave you something for the pain. I know how excruciating it can be.

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  2. I'm still in the midst of the same issue! My own dentist couldn't get me numb enough to finish the root canal, so he referred me to a dentist in Vegas....and I still haven't gone. I'm the biggest procrastinator when it comes to this stuff. He filled it (temporarily) and I'm supposed to get myself to the specialist. Hmmmpf!
    I always go the root canal/crown route. To me it's the lesser of all evils. My dentist also told me that having it pulled meant that my teeth would shift and I would have a "dent" in my face (he didn't say it like that) since there was nothing there to fill in the space. I have enough self esteem issues...I sure don't need a dented face to add to it! LOL!
    You do what's best for Vee!
    Good luck sweetie!
    Hugs...
    Jan

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  3. I've had 2 root canals with crowns although they didn't cost near that much. One went fine, the other gives me trouble sometimes like today it's sore but it always goes away. I need another one and I am procrastinating like crazy. I just want it pulled this time. My husband has had 2 pulled and was told that he probably wouldn't have an issue with his teeth shifting because of his age (50). Now I don't know who to believe.

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  4. Oh...I feel your pain! I've been there...done that...and it all hurts, including the bills. We also have no dental coverage.

    Here's what I know some people are doing...going to Mexico and having their work done for about 1/4 the cost. Of course you would have to stay there for awhile...and that would be a real hardship (especially in a resort area!).

    All the best with the tooth...and stay away from that hammer.

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  5. Oh gosh Vee, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. First of all, how can we "upkeep" our teeth when it costs $5,000 for ONE tooth, one procedure?? Like Jan I'm walking around with a temp filling on a root canal. I also had one tooth pulled, without an implant. It didn't create a dent in my face because my teeth were very, very tight and they just shifted to fill in the space.

    The Farmer has crowns and they fall out like crazy. I don't know what to suggest. Probably the root canal and crown route.

    - Suzanne

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  6. I've been there...if it were in the front or noticeable at all and I have insurance...root canal/crown....and Holy Cow ask for a cash discount..that is way too high!!

    Years ago..I had 2, yes 2 removed...one on either side upper towards the back...we had NO insurance at the time and things were not good for us financially both times....I do have a lil space retainer that I put in to keep the spaces filled..it fits behind my teeth and is totally unnoticeable..... my teeth have NOT moved....you can't even notice it. It's a personal call.

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  7. When I had great dental insurance, I had the root canal and crown done.

    However, the last time this happened I didn't have any insurance (as I don't now). I had the dentist just pull the tooth as it is in an area no one would notice. That was about eight years ago and it hasn't bothered me a bit.

    The dentist said he'd suggest a bridge put in to keep the teeth on each side of it straight but I haven't noticed them moving at all. Perhaps it is because this wasn't done in my teens or 20s? Hehehe...

    I have another tooth on the other side of my jaw that is giving me problems and I plan to have it pulled.

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  8. I haven't had to deal with this but my husband did. He had a root canal and the tooth was fine. Ken didn't even have it numbed and didn't feel a thing. We LOVE our dentist.
    Another time he did have he extraction and an implant put in. He first had a titanium screw put in his jaw and then after a while when that healed he had the implant screwed into it. It took a long time and was expensive (insurance didn't pay for it) but after it was all over with he's is glad he went that way.

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  9. Hey, I'm liking Judy's idea of staying a resort to recover from the root canal but doesn't the expense of the trip and lodging cancel out the savings?

    I have always had good teeth until I got crack down the center of one molar. I had to have a root canal and a crown. I am a wimp but it was really ok and I did not have a lot of pain. It was costly but not as much as you have been quoted.

    I would advise you to do what you would feel best about even if it pinches the pocket book. We have dental insurance but it covers very little.

    I'll be praying for you!

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  10. Oh my goodness, Vee, I'm so sorry for you, as I know how awfully painful that is! I am struggling with almost the same problems these days too.

    Your dentist sounds VERY EXPENSIVE! I know you are in pain, but if you had the chance I'd say try a second opinion. Is there a dental school near you? Very often you can get extensive dental work done at a fraction of the cost!

    My philosophy is to do everything to save the tooth because a bridge, dentures or even implants don't feel the same as your own tooth.

    I had to have one implant already, as a tooth I had cracked below the gum line, and had to be pulled. I ahd to wait 6 months for the gum to heal after extraction, and then I had the rod implanted into my jaw which cost $1,500. Then six months later they open the gum, expose the rod and screw on an "abutment" - another $495, to the dental surgeon, and THEN I had to go back to my dentist for a crown to attach to that, which cost $1,200 -- and he said he "gave me a break" because I was such a good customer ...lol!

    So implants are better than a bridge, but also expensive, and my dentist said not everyone is a candidate for them, especially for an upper tooth. Now that all the work is done I'm satisfied, but again there is nothing like the feel of you own tooth.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

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  11. Oh my goodness, Vee, I'm so sorry for you, as I know how awfully painful that is! I am struggling with almost the same problems these days too.

    Your dentist sounds VERY EXPENSIVE! I know you are in pain, but if you had the chance I'd say try a second opinion. Is there a dental school near you? Very often you can get extensive dental work done at a fraction of the cost!

    My philosophy is to do everything to save the tooth because a bridge, dentures or even implants don't feel the same as your own tooth.

    I had to have one implant already, as a tooth I had cracked below the gum line, and had to be pulled. I ahd to wait 6 months for the gum to heal after extraction, and then I had the rod implanted into my jaw which cost $1,500. Then six months later they open the gum, expose the rod and screw on an "abutment" - another $495, to the dental surgeon, and THEN I had to go back to my dentist for a crown to attach to that, which cost $1,200 -- and he said he "gave me a break" because I was such a good customer ...lol!

    So implants are better than a bridge, but also expensive, and my dentist said not everyone is a candidate for them, especially for an upper tooth. Now that all the work is done I'm satisfied, but again there is nothing like the feel of you own tooth.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

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  12. Oh you poor thing!!! I hate going to the dentist, so I really sympathize with you. I have had root canals in the past, and they are still (knock wood) OK. My husband has had a root canal go bad, and just had the extraction. He is going for the implant soon. He was given a prescription for Vicodin, but did fine with just Advil.

    Good luck! I'll be thinking about you and saying a little prayer...
    xoxo,
    Mary

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  13. Isn't it amazing how we all have these "horror" stories about the dentist?? I'll spare you mine (yes I have a story too)I hope you take care of yourself today, that the extraction goes well and that an implant works. I'll be praying for you too--mostly that the pain goes away!

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  14. I'm fortunate enough not to have had major problems. We have great health insurance but no dental. I'm becoming aware that this is a big problem. No dental insurance and big dental bills. My mother-in-law had an implant years ago and it seems to be doing well. She got it done at a local Dental School and saved a lot of money. We happen to be near Loma Linda which has great medical and dental schools. Her implant was done by quaified students who were getting experience and were monitored closely by experienced dental instructors. It did take a little bit longer because the constant oversight and monitoring but she did save quite a bit. Something to think about if you have a Dental School nearby. You might get a second opinion ,too. From the other comments you dentist seems expensive. Good luck with this.

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  15. Oh, you poor dear! There is no pain worse than mouth pain, I think. I hope you get to feeling better very soon!

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  16. OH Vee, my sypmathies to you. You poor dear, We did the expensive deed several years ago .. both of us. . went systematically through our old fillings and took out a small mortgage to have our teeth fixed. The worst thing is. . no one sees it. It's money spent that you can't show off. Yuck. I don't know. . .how long do you expect to live? Our dentist basically said this to us. You will need those teeth for a long time yet. . .Lord willing. You need to eat. . .and so .. see it as an investment. . I guess.
    Poor thing. I really do feel bad for you .. pain and more pain. . (in the wallet)

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  17. hey Vee..... lots of good advice here... and having been in dentistry for many years... I know it is horribly expensive. I even used to tell my own bosses they were selling bread at gold brick prices. However, I do think your guy seems a bit over priced. Seek a second opinion... and if you can, find an endodontist .. a specialist in root canals...there shouldn't really be a "failed" root canal. I would even see a specialist for the crown too...a prosthodondist.... honestly...I can't see it being as expensive as your guy has quoted....perhaps at least phone around for some ball park figures for quotes to check the prices in your area. It may be that you live in an area where they are absolutely charging "what the market will bear" as they say.... and are not governed by any body of dental overseers.... good luck with all of this. Your own are always the best ....although I have implants that are as stable as the day they were put in... in spaces where I was missing teeth. And, guess what? Even working in the dental profession doesn't get you a discount... most of them are so cheap they squeak even if they are running multi million dollar practices ...and they are. A poor dentist rakes in over a million a year.

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  18. I think modern dentistry is a racket! Thousands of dollars for things no bigger than a grape. Okay, here is my sympathy: I feel for you! I have been there and done that (root canal) and its no one's idea of fun. Antibiotics should help the pain?

    I don't know what to advise, other than don't dealy too long...that sometimes makes things worse...

    Here's some (((((hugs))))) for the pain and aggravation...

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  19. OH HOW I HOPE YOU HAVE MADE A DECISION! I don't know how you have stood the pain...go with the implant! A partial is only a partial fix, don't do it! Get that implant and be happy and hold on, I've got the ball peen right here...but hit your finger, it's bound to take your mind off the pain in your mouth!
    hugs
    Sandi

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  20. Girl! I can feel your pain. About 7 years ago, I went to the dentist for a complete "overhaul". (ha!) I got a couple of cavities filled, I got caps for my two front teeth (they kind of sloped up in the middle so, my whole life, I looked like I'd been smacked in the mouth and had my teeth chipped. That's how I felt they looked anyway). I got everything done except this one tooth and it was scheduled to have a filling the next time in. But my dentist got into a huge blowout with her partner and left the practice. She called me and asked that I continue to see her once she got back on her feet and, in the meantime, she would be working out of various dental offices all over town. Not wanting to seem disloyal (what an idiot I am!!!!), I agreed. Well, by the time she was able to get me in at an office clear across town (we're talking a couple of months), my cavity had worsened severly. She informed me that I would need a root canal and a crown and all that would cost around $1600. I could not believe it. If I'd just told her to get lost and had her ex-partner continue my dental care, it would have just been a regular filling. Well...I'd already spent $1400 on the caps and umpteen dollars on the other fillings. I just couldn't come up with $1600 to fix one lousy tooth. So, here I sit. Seven years later with a tooth that is all but gone on one side. Luckily, it's towards the back of my mouth, but it's annoying as heck when I eat. I'm going to have to get it pulled or capped or something one of these days. But not today. (lol)

    Hope your dental issues get resolved soon and I look forward to hearing how this partial thing works out for you. I'm genuinely curious. It's going to be something I'm going to have to face sooner rather than later.

    Kari

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  21. oh no...poor you. It seems like I as well as others posting here have been through something similar. Ick! Yep...canal is the route to go from my experience. Expensive! I keep forgetting how lucky we are here in Canada with our medical plans and everything. But you must do what you must kiddo! Oh my...post again so we know how you are doing.

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  22. Vee, I have a bridge and I am happy with it. I also have crowns..and am happy with them, although once in awhile they fall off.
    Dentists without insurance are...the...DEVIL!

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  23. Wow what a lot you have to pay for your root canal and cap treatment. We have dental insurance as dentistry is expensive but nothing like that.
    Hope you get it all sorted quickly Vee. Toothache is not nice.

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  24. Vee,

    Oh NO! I've only had one filling in my life, nothing more. That was a horrible experience for me, I felt like I was going to die. I don't know what I would do if I had to do anything else. Not to mention feeling faint over the cost! Eek!

    Good luck with that and I hope you feel better soon!

    I'm finally getting around to catch up with my friends after being away. I have been so lonely without visiting everyone!

    xoxo

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  25. Vee, I am so sorry for your pain. I pray by now you have some relief. I think you have to have a dentist that is in tune with you. I vote for the partial or as Brenda said if it's in a backwards place it will be okay just let them take it out and away you go. I know that sounds like the easy solution, but sometimes my life needs the 'easy' solution. I pray you feel better.

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  26. Well, I had a tooth extracted a year ago and haven't had an implant yet, though they told me I should. The space is in the back and doesn't show. So far nothing has shifted. It doesn't bother me at all, but I wonder if it will in the future.

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  27. Ouch, so sorry to hear about your dental issue Vee.

    Well I think I'm the only one here so far, that hasn't had this problem. Thank God!

    We don't have dental coverage either. So I understand your concern with the bill.

    "Okay Lord, provide all of Vee's needs for her, she needs your hand on this one." Amen!

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  28. Please tell me how, if a nerve is dead there can be such pain??? I thought the nerve was the bit which caused the toothache! I must be missing something here!!

    Modern dentistry says go with implants, and I know a couple of dentists who only do those, but I think, like the others, that you need a second opinion too. My husband and Mum both had simple extractions, and nothing moved. They were both over 50 at the time.

    I hope the pain goes fast, Vee.

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  29. I'm with KM praying for God's hand on the whole situation. Peace and strength for you.

    I hate the whole icky mess...been there and just have had them pulled or capped.

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  30. Please let us know as soon as you are better!

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  31. Oh Vee, I am so sorry... where have I been all week??? I can't believe I didn't know about this! I have been ridiculously busy, so I'll just apologize and say that your tooth is now in my prayers! Thankful you're getting to the dentist today.

    Hugs and prayers for numbness,
    Christi

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  32. go for a mini implant and then a crown on top.. It is virtually not painful and very satisfactory... good luck
    it does not create a dent in your face unless you have the corner(eye teeth) taken out although eventually they will drift.

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