I had a dentist appointment earlier this week. Anyone who knows me knows that there are few things I hate more than going to the dentist. Growing up, I went to a great dentist, and in general, my teeth are in pretty good shape, but I’ve had a few fillings done, and I can’t imagine that anyone enjoys that.
When I moved to D.C. and signed up for insurance, I opted to not add on the additional dental insurance, but when I got my new insurance info for 2008, it appeared that my insurance company had opted to add on some dental benefits. Can’t complain there.
Because I now had dental insurance, I decided to check out local dentists that accepted my insurance. I got one recommendation to a dentist within walking distance of my apartment. Seemed perfect to me. Unfortunately, it was not a great dental experience. The cleaning was fine, but I needed a small filling, and the experience was awful. The dentist didn’t have an assistant in the room while she worked, which seemed unusual to me, and it quickly became apparent that she needed an assistant. At one point, one of her drills broke, and after smacking it against the counter a few times, she left me alone in the room, with various tools still sticking out of my mouth. I can’t say that I was pleased.
A month later, the filling was still causing me pain. I called the dentist and they said that was normal. I decided to get a second opinion. At random, I found another dentist in the area who was willing to see me that same day. The difference in how I was treated was night and day. This new dentist took an x-ray, told me that the filling was simply too high, ground it down, and also indicated that there was a second cavity in an adjacent tooth that needed to be filled.
The treatment I received from this new dentist was incredible. He took the time to explain to me what he was going to be doing, what it would feel like, and why he needed to do each step. Additionally, the tech was friendly and kept asking if I needed anything, knowing that I was fairly stressed about the appointment, having had such a negative experience with the previous dentist.
I know that my insurance will cover my treatment at this dentist to a certain point, but there will be more out of pocket cost to me. That said, even if my insurance did not cover anything, I would still arrange my budget so that I could continue to go to this dentist. I will happily pay more if it means that I am being treated well and getting the best care possible.
It is unfortunate that even medical care can fall into the “better = more expensive” trap. Some of that has to do with time, I’m sure. For a doctor or dentist to be able to take more time with each patient, they have to schedule fewer appointments throughout the day, and therefore, to take in the same amount of money, need to charge more. Of course, this isn’t true across the board – there are wonderful medical providers who charge less than average and awful medical providers who send outrageous bills.
I just know that when I find a good doctor or dentist, I’m going to do what I can to stick with them, no matter the cost.