Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can Cavities Get Better?

What a strange day! Tomorrow I hope to get back on track blogging, checking and responding to any emails (I'm a little scared to see the size of my inbox after leaving it be for this many days) and catching up on comments during nap time.

Today's post has a lot to do with teeth (hence the close up picture where I'm giving Paul the "you better stop taking pictures because I really don't need 500 more pictures of myself" look). Paul and I journeyed down out of the mountains for a teeth cleaning in The City.

We switched dentists a few weeks ago (you may remember my emergency appointment for what turned out to be a flossing injury... which my new dentist was nice enough to not charge us for... or laugh about.) because our old one was so expensive. My mom and I had started comparing dental bills and her procedures cost hundreds of dollars less than ours.

I was beginning to get a little suspicious that our old guy was overcharging us. He would bill our insurance (back when we had insurance) and then charge us an additional $300 (or so) because our insurance "hadn't paid for everything."

Now I should go back a bit further to explain. I don't like going to the dentist. I had managed to avoid it for five entire years when I met Paul. Before college I had gone every six months, had braces twice, years in retainers and invisaliners and frankly the fear I'd developed was pretty close to a phobia. So I expected things to be bad when I went in for a cleaning.

Before the appointment I'd never had a cavity. I ended the day with an appointment to come back with five fillings. Paul, who'd been seeing a dentist regularly, came home with an appointment for something like four fillings. We were both surprised.

I was more surprised however, when we went back two cleanings later and he found more cavities. We'd both become much more careful with our daily cleaning routines (you should see me now, it's insane... hence the "flossing injury"). He said I had one and that Paul had three more cavities and probably needed a root canal. Then he handed us a bill that included around $500 in x-rays in addition to the cleaning costs. When I placed the credit card on the table I knew it would be a while until we could afford to come back.

Fast forward 14 months. When we went in today we figured we'd pay for those months away. I wasn't getting x-rays until after I have the little one, but Paul did and we were expecting bad news. If he needed a root canal 14 months ago, imagine how bad it would be now!

They cleaned his teeth, took the (free) x-rays and examined them. And guess what they found?

Nothing! Not one single cavity! In fact, they said his mouth looked great and they couldn't even see a spot where it looked like a cavity might be forming.

I spent the entire car ride home (an hour and a half) trying to figure out some other explanation to excuse the contradiction. Cavities don't just disappear completely, do they?

I've been searching to see if it's possible (I'd like to believe that it is and that this guy was only charging way too much, rather than charging way to much to fill teeth that were perfectly healthy...). Most of the sites I've found say it's not. One dentist wrote that she'd seen it in a friend's child who was using ACT (which is actually what we've both been using twice a day).

If it is the ACT it's pretty amazing. But can you really go from needing a root canal to perfect teeth in one year from mouth wash?

Anyways, I'm just relieved we aren't about to get another huge bill for fillings! Now I'd better get some sleep. I have big ideas for tomorrow's post!


  1. My hubby has always been good about taking care of his teeth and would go home during holidays and use the same dentist. That is until he moved too far away. He ended up seeing a dentist here in town who told him that he had developed peridontal disease. I'm not sure if he actually has it or not, but he just goes in every 3 months instead of ever 6 months for a cleaning. It's not too big a deal since he has some sort of student dental discount (I'm just as confused as you probably are about what that is exactly).

    Anyways...I procrastinate about my teeth horribly. Not out of fear but mostly laziness and cost. So I knew that preggo women have bad teeth issues (vomiting and whatnot doesn't help) so I went in as soon as the vomiting got under control. Only one cavity, but there were concerns about my gums. So I started being more diligent about flossing (I hate flossing it's so gross to me so I bought a water pic). I went back about a month later. No problems. So maybe he really does have peridontal disease.

    So not all dentists are alike. Sorry my points lately are long. I'm betting that your dentist was ripping you off and maybe my hubby's dentist wasn't really paying him much attention because he went there regularly. Ah, well. Doctors are the same way.

  2. Good morning Cammie, et al,

    I googled that ACT out of curiosity. The active ingredient is flouride, same as about any toothpaste. I think your dental experiences might just be summed up to a combination of naivety on your part & crookedness on the dentist's part. But then, I admit to possessing an unreasonable, visceral dislike for doctors which usually colors my opinions.

    Yea! for MA voters.

    ***NOTE TO PAUL***
    Today's picture seems a bit blurry...

    BRAwHAhahahahahaha! :) :)

  3. Ugh, I hate the dentist as well.

    Steve and I both believe that most of the work that was done on my teeth (cavities and things in between the teeth) was not done out of necessity.

    I don't trust dentists, I just don't any longer.

    I remember being younger and them saying, well that looks like it might become a cavity so we'll just fill that too. But being young, I didn't say anything.

    I do think that some dentists (and doctors for that matter) are in it for the money.

    I haven't been to the dentist in a year, and won't go until we're married so I have dental insurance. I can only imagine that I'll need work.. :/

    What scares me is the needle that numbs you. I need to find a pain free filling dentist (which do exist from what I hear!)

  4. Sounds to me like you were both really taken for an expensive ride. Our girls are about your age, and I don't think they've had two cavities between them (and those only because they were in braces for several years and brushing was harder).

    People your age have grown up with fluoride, tooth sealants, etc., so cavities - at least among those who have taken care of their teeth in the usual manner - are rarer than in the past.

    I have fairly good teeth, but have had the usual fillings, crowns and a few root canals (all warranted, I believe). I have been known to fall asleep in the dentist's chair during procedures; my longtime dentist is really good with the novocaine, and I figure it's not life-threatening, therefore I may as well relax. ;) Marie


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