Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I Love Going to the Dentist

Well, of course there are things about it that I don't love, but I think preventive dentistry is a great investment. I go every 6 months for a cleaning and a fluoride treatment, and get x-rays every year. My insurance pays for this almost 100%, except for the fluoride.
My dentist is very high-tech-- I'm always interested to see what new technology she has invested in. Over the years, it's been various things-- a cleaning tool that uses a tiny stream of high-pressure water, a computer screen where they can show you pictures of the inside of your mouth, a laser-pointer type thing that detects the presence of cavities... I have no idea how much she spends each year upgrading her equipment but I'm sure it's a lot. Today was the first time I ever had x-rays taken digitally-- it's kind of cool to see them on the screen. They also had a new kind of fluoride treatment where they brush a sticky varnish onto your teeth instead of making you bite down on a tray full of foam. (This allowed them to raise the price from $35 to $50, which was annoying, since I actually do pay for it out of pocket. It was nice being able to eat and drink right afterwards but not all that nice to be worth $15.) They also used me as a guinea pig for a new topically applied desensitizer, though I didn't think it worked very well, but it was free, so I didn't really care.

I'm really glad I work for an employer with good dental insurance, in a country where that is still a fairly standard benefit for full-time employees. (Check out this NY Times article about British DIY dentistry if you really want to give yourself the creeps!) I only have to pay about $50 a year for my dental coverage. Plus $100 a year for fluoride treatments and maybe $10 at most for what my insurance doesn't cover on the cost of the cleaning and x-rays. When you consider that one crown can cost over $1000 and insurance usually only pays for half of that kind of work, it's definitely worth it to pay for routine maintenance.

In case you're wondering, no, I didn't have any cavities.


Ben said...

I'm only really replying to defend us Brits ;-)

My dentist is great, does his job and my teeth are perfect (well, bar two fillings, both are which are from chipped teeth as opposed to neglect). And his charges are reasonable too! I paid £5 for my last visit, and I think that included a toothbrush.

Anonymous said...

I hear the new digital x-rays they use only have 10% the radiation of the normal ones. That's worth a lot right there.