Thursday, February 28, 2008

Toothache, headache

There's nothing to get me riled up about healthcare like dental care. I only have dental insurance until the 29th. For those of you outside the US, dental insurance is not as exciting as it sounds. Common plans pay 50-80% of "covered" expenses, and there's an annual maximum they will pay, like $1000 or $2000 (that's for your whole family). Consider that one root canal and crown costs $1200-$2000.

Anyway, I've been having this excruciating pain in my mouth (top and bottom) for two days. It's unclear where the pain is coming from, if it's related to the surgery I had in December, what. Then yesterday a crown broke off and fell out of my mouth, all by itself. It's not even near the painful area! So I did what any American is supposed to do - I went to see my dentist as soon as he could get me in. (Woe to those who don't have a regular dentist.) He said the crown took too much with it and can't be put back, so I'm looking at another $2500 implant in addition to the one I already have to get.* What about the pain? Well, he didn't even want to do an exam. He said that as a general dentist, he doesn't feel comfortable treating me, and I need to see a specialist. The specialist can't get me in until next week, when I won't have dental insurance, and like most dental professionals they expect to be paid the day of service or they won't perform it.

What this means is that I don't know how long I'm going to be living with this kind of pain. I can't afford to see a specialist and pay all of it out of pocket. Once again, I can't chew, and even when I can, my chewing is impaired by all the holes and other things in my mouth. It's not surprising the tooth with the crown broke when you look at my teeth - they're extremely soft and they've always been. So I have these problems.

What gets me about this sitation is that 1. dental work is so expensive and there's not really any facility to help. (Don't even get me started on how Medicaid "covers" dental work). I can't go to a dental school or low income clinic, although in other places for other people that may be an option. The care you receive there may not be the same, though. Then there's 2. why is the mouth not considered part of the body? This pain won't let me eat or sleep and makes it difficult to drink. I have ketones, which yesterday were moderate. My bg is acting really stubborn. I woke up at 3 am really nauseated and had to throw up (no, not low). If I didn't stay on top of the ketones, I could end up in the ER, which I'm sure my health insurance would tell me isn't covered because it's my teeth.

Someone from Australia asked me why I didn't just go to the dental clinic and tell them it was an emergency. Do you really have those there? I wish we had them.

* Getting an implant is a long process - they have to remove the remaining tooth, seat the implant, wait 6-8 months, and then put the crown on it. I can't get a bridge or anything else due to the condition of the other teeth in my mouth. Both of the problem teeth are in the front of my mouth.


Bad Decision Maker said...

that sucks!!! sorry you're in pain and getting ketones.

we need a new healthcare system (that INCLUDES dental!) so bad.

hope something can get figured out soon to at least alleviate the pain.

Colleen said...

Sorry you're having pain. Going to the dentist is my LEAST favorite activity. The fact that I then have to pay for the least favorite activity really stinks.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Ouch Lili! That sounds awful! I'm so sorry that you're dealing with all this!!

k2 said...

That Totally Sucks! I don't know what to tell you except that I hope u feel better. I have a problem tooth that will need an implant replacement and I'm trying to prolong that ordeal.
to deal with some of the pain and inflamation of my gums ,I've been rinsing with warm salt water. It does help with the inflamation.
Hang in there!

Lili said...

BAD - Yeah. I asked a Canadian if they had dental insurance and she said it's not covered through the government...unless it's a health issue. Hmm. My doctor told me I could cut Darvocet in half, so I've been taking that. It somewhat works, which is good.

Colleen - Thanks. I don't mind going to the dentist but the time before it is pretty bad!

Scott - Thanks. I am glad my doctor is so great. He was appalled that I couldn't get some help.

Lili said...

K2 - Thanks, I will try that.