In other health news, I visited the dentist last night. This was my first visit to the dentist in several years. How long? If I've been since college, I have no memory of it. I don't like dentists, OK? Give me a break. But during my physical a couple weeks back, my doctor looked in my mouth and told me that if I had dental insurance, I should go see a dentist. And as it happens, I do have dental insurance, so what the heck.
I knew going in that there was a fair amount of work to be done. Several years ago, I had root canals performed on four of my molars, but I never had those teeth crowned. On one of those teeth, the temporary filling had fallen out and part of the tooth had actually broken off. (Amazingly, the temporary fillings in the other three teeth are still intact.) So at the very least, I knew I needed three crowns, and that something would have to be done about the one damaged tooth.
We started out with a full series of x-rays. And I mean full. He did the standard bitewings, but he also did a series of periapical shots, which show the entire tooth, including the roots and the supporting bone. I'd never had those before, so that was kind of fun. While the dentist was developing the film, I stayed in the chair and watched Spider-Man on the flat-screen computer monitor mounted next to the chair. Ah, technology.
Eventually the dentist came back and performed a brief visual examination. He poked and prodded, and pulled and scraped, and made contemplative noises. He went away again, and shortly returned with a sheaf of papers. He turned off the movie -- aw! -- and replaced it with my dental x-rays. He pointed out a few things on the x-rays, then showed me his recommended treatment plan. And, gulp.
First of all, I need my teeth cleaned. But since it's been so long, I need not just a cleaning but a super-cleaning, more commonly known as a full mouth perio scale, in which the dentist will clean the plaque and tartar off my teeth with the dental equivalent of a jackhammer and a welding torch. Or something like that. All I know is that it takes a couple hours and a shot of Novocain. Whee!
I also have five cavities, one on the top and four on the bottom. The three aforementioned molars with temporary filling need to be refilled and crowned. Then there's the fourth molar. That one needs to come out, and so does the one next to it. And then I need to get some sort of partial denture to replace them. Fun!
The good news is that my dental insurance will (theoretically) cover a far greater percentage of the total cost than I expected, and if we schedule things cleverly my flexible medical savings account will pay for more than half of the most expensive procedures. But before I do any of it, I'm going to submit the proposed treatment plan to the insurance company. According to the documentation I got when I was hired, they cover everything the dentist is proposing to do. But insurance companies are scum, and if there's something in the plan they're not going to cover, I want to know about it before I get the work done.