Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't Forget Dental Students

Okay, so you know I am a huge supporter of students of all ages.  I think that we should support our kids at all levels, whether it is to pick up recycling at the middle and high schools, be parent at the door, help out the teachers in the classrooms at the elementary schools, what have you.  But, when I was having all of those dental problems I remembered a story I had seen on the news about a local dental school and I decided to check it out.  I may have mentioned this before, but I have delved into this a bit further now and would like to tell you a little more about what a great opportunity this has worked out to be for me.  So, read on.
As you know, I injured my back, which in turn caused me to crack a couple of my teeth.  Simple enough, right? Wrong!  Not when it comes to dental care.  I had no idea how varied, and really how corrupt the dental field is.  I will start from the beginning and give you a quick run down of my dental care.  We have never had dental insurance, but I am blessed with fantastic teeth and my parents did a great job of my dental care when I was growing up.  When Tom and I got together, he was behind in his care, so we signed up for just a cheap dental plan and went to whatever dentist was available on it.  Mostly we took care of him and the kids and very minimal on me.  The last time I went to that place I remember having some sort of deep cleaning and it being very painful and never going back.
Well, of course, time goes by, the kids become the priority and their dental health comes first and this damn back thing takes two years, blah blah.  As things go for me, it turns into a big ordeal and gets bad overnight and the story probably rings a bell from here.  On a Thursday I see the first dentist and for $200 I leave crying with a $5,000 estimate and no help.  Monday night I see a much nicer dentist who says my mouth is terribly infected for waiting so long, still no help, but the estimate is of course going up because he has better x-rays than the first guy and can see I need a root canal instead of just this or that, etc.  So, I head back up the mountain, frustrated, sick (literally), and in pain, and that is when I remembered the show about the dental college.  
I did a bunch of research that night when I got home, got the kids off to school the next day and headed off to college.  UCD Dental School is a long ways away from Bailey, CO but it has been a wonderful experience for me.  The morning that I arrived was a bit chaotic as they only take 8 patients per session, first come first served, so you have to get there early.  I was seen in the morning session by a very professional student and was given multiple care options for the emergency portions of my dental care.  That afternoon I was seen in the oral surgery department to have the worst of the teeth extracted.  The first visit cost me $44 and the extraction cost me $70.  I was going to pay $279 for just the extraction at the first dentist I had seen.
While I was there, I headed upstairs and got signed up for a screening to be accepted into the student's program for the rest of my dental care.  Part of the problem is that I had other dental issues going on as well.  Due to the seizure meds I take, I have pretty bad gum problems and I still have one more tooth that is cracked, and the reason it cracked, of course is because it has a cavity in it.  As you can imagine, getting into this program could be very beneficial for us, and I was hoping, for the students as well. This last Thursday was my appointment to see if I was accepted.
Well, I was exactly right.  They were more than happy to see me!  I chuckle as I say that, it's a little embarrassing that a bunch of dental students think how crappy my mouth is, and were happy about it, but whatever it takes to get my oral health back I figure!  Anyway, for the low, low price of $20 I had a quick screening done to see if I fit the profile, and they loved me.  I have some unusual things that they can teach with because of the meds and the tooth that they pulled in the back will be fun to teach with because either we will be doing a three part bridge or a little bit of a tricky implant (soft bone).  The really exciting thing is that there was a young gentleman standing around looking for a patient to help him take his board exams, which lucky me, I fit the bill for that too.  So, now I get a portion of my dental care for free and will get paid a couple hundred bucks to help him pass his boards!
Now, there are a few down sides to this.  The biggest being time.  These appointments take ALL (they tell you a couple hours, but with drive time etc.) day.  And that is not at all an exaggeration.  They even tell you that at the screening, but to me it is absolutely worth it.  I am getting state of the art dental care, by students who are almost too gentle (maybe that's what takes so long) and then everything is double and triple checked.  The other down side for me is the location, again it takes about 1.5 hours to get there, but again, I just write the entire day off, take a book and thank my lucky stars that I'm not paying 10 times that amount for much less care.
Very quickly I would like to touch on that.  I do not like to "bash" on anyone or any industry in particular, but I have really learned a lot about dental care in the last few months.  First and foremost, dentists pretty much can do whatever they want.  It's not like doctors and hospitals that still have to treat a sick person even if they have no money or insurance, they can charge whatever they want and treat at a "standard of care" that they choose.  Secondly, there are a lot of quack dentists out there.  Turns out, that deep cleaning I had that I never went back after, I was supposed to have been numbed up for, and wasn't.  The first dentist I went to with the $5,000 bid, well, a bunch of that was crap too.
My point being, is that there are a lot of options out there.  If you don't like your dentist, check out another; if something is hurting you, it shouldn't.  I am so excited about getting my oral health care back while helping out these new and excited dentists.  Even if you have dental insurance think about helping out some students, I know that they are very appreciative, and you never know who you might meet.  The guy who I'm helping with his boards, he and his wife are moving to Oregon right after he takes his exam with me.  We got to talking and I was proud to hear he had taken a job for Oregon Public Health, but thought it was even more ironic that they were thinking of buying a llama ranch!  Small world!


southerninspiration said...

I am so glad to read this, and perhaps this is what I need to do as well........I HATE going to the dentist, and have had MUCH work already done. Who knows if it was done right or really needed, but I am going to look into this possibility. I live in the Houston area, so you'd think there would be some probability that I could find a dental school!

pshepherd said...

I'm so happy about this. I love you, Mom

Daisy said...

I feel very lucky to have found a good dentist: one who has even convinced my dental-phobic husband that regular dental care is nothing to fear. I'm sorry you had so many bad experiences: great that you found an alternative!