Dentists, Cavities, Hospitals, Epic Mommy Fail

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At the swanky dentist’s office!

Back in May, my (then) 3 and 4 year old finally went to see a pediatric dentist for the first time. In Croatia, our family dentist told me that I didn’t have to bring my kids in for a check-up until they were “3 or 4 years old”, and so, of course, I didn’t… and then May in America rolled around, and I decided it was time.

I did my research, yelp-ed the life out of “pediatric dentist” and finally came across a pediatric dentist who had a perfect 5-star rating. He went to my alma mater and was a young family man, so it made me want to go there that much more. I scheduled my 3 and 4 year old’s visit at the same time so that they could be seen together.

When we walked in, I was blown away at how UH-MAZING the waiting room looked. TVs, game consoles, toys for kids of every age… was I at Chuck E Cheese? When we finally went “inside”, that area did not disappoint either – every little detail was crafted to a young human’s interest, even the animal shaped teeth cleaner electric tool!

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After a ton of x-rays and a meeting with the very nice dentist, I was told my children had a million cavities. Ok, not a million, but between the two of them, we were in the double digits. To say that I felt like a freight train ran me over and then backed up to make sure every bit of life was sucked out of my mutilated body would be a grand understatement. Talk about EPIC. MOMMMY. FAIL. I had been brushing their teeth (almost) every night since those little pearly whites first appeared – how could this have happened???

It turns out that 95% of my kids’ cavities were BETWEEN teeth – read: I did NOT floss. WHO FLOSSES A TODDLER’S TEETH? Apparently, nobody that I know because when I asked everyone at work, they had been in the exact same situation as me – children full of cavities (mostly due to not flossing) and had to be put to sleep to fix the cavities (yes, you read that right).

Dentists recommend that small children with numerous cavities be “put under” (aka “general anesthesia”) so that the cavities are filled easily, quickly, and without trauma to the child. Apparently, all of my aforementioned co-workers had gone through the same thing.

Here is the kicker: Our new pediatric dentist told me that after my dental insurance paid their (small) portion, I would owe a WHOPPING $2,500 for the work that supposedly needed to be done on my kids!!!!!!! That is not a typo. I really did mean to write $2,500.

I just about had a cow right there in the waiting area when I heard that. The dentist was also recommending some “pulp medicine” since the cavities looked like they were deep (read: near the root but not enough to warrant a root canal) and was planning on completely filing down my 3 year old’s two front teeth and putting “baby veneers” on there since one of her front teeth had a cavity. He even showed me pictures on his iPhone proudly displaying all the baby veneers he had done.

While impressed, I felt UTTERLY destroyed. GENERAL ANESTHESIA??? BABY VENEERS? TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS????? Someone get me a Xanax.

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At the suggestion of my dental insurance company, I got a second opinion. BEST SECOND OPINION OF MY LIFE. The next pediatric dentist we went to was a soft-spoken woman also fairly young who said that she liked to take the “conservative” route with care. Like the first dentist, she did recommend general anesthesia. However, she saw no need for baby veneers or pulp medicine or any of that extra fluff stuff the first dentist had recommended. We scheduled our appointment at a local outpatient surgical center (a hospital) where our new pediatric dentist would perform the “surgery”, and the next thing I knew, my kids’ cavities were fixed (each kid was out for about 45 minutes, after very cutely being wheeled away into the “operating room” in a red wagon). My total bill? $40 ($20 co-pay for each).
(NOTE: I later found out that although all the “work” that needed to be done was very expensive at both dentist offices (a few hundred dollars different), the first dentist did NOT know how to process our insurance correctly…. which led me to wonder how many people had been screwed out of several thousand dollars because of the inefficiency of their office??? Mind you this office had 5-star ratings on every site I looked!)

If you are a parent with a small child(ren), I hope you take away the following from this story:

1) ALWAYS – no matter how much you love a doctor – get a second opinion
2) PLEASE floss your child(ren)’s teeth regularly
3) Go see your pediatric dentist as soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts (that’s what they recommend!)

Have you had a positive / negative experience at the dentist’s office with your child?

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