How I got my dentist to pay me for cavities

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First look at this adorable baby

Hi everyone! We’re back! Kind of…we’re certainly trying. We had to take a break because we got busy and the world got super depressing. The orange man was elected and is fucking shit up, Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water, and society is constantly on edge, making sure we don’t take one step too far over the ledge. I don’t have to tell you how exhausting all that is. So instead, please read this story about how I managed to get paid to have cavities.

Our story begins about a year ago. I had finally gotten my shit together and made a dentist appointment after a year or so of avoiding it. I couldn’t bear my father’s disappointment (again) so one Tuesday afternoon I found myself in my least favorite place. I got a cleaning done and was told I had four cavities, which sucked but isn’t the worst thing to ever happen at a dentist office to a Danver (ask Sara about how she once had 12 cavities…).

After the cleaning, I didn’t want to waste anymore of my afternoon so I told the dentist I would reschedule to have the cavities filled another time and asked for a quote on what the fillings would cost. I had recently found out my insurance didn’t cover fillings, (which is a whole other problem) so I was a bit wary of what the cost might be. According to the office, the four fillings would come to roughly $1,100.

My jaw dropped. I DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF MONEY! I HAVE LOANS AND I OCCASIONALLY LIKE TO EAT.

Once I stopped laughing I left the dentist’s office and went back to work and cried like a baby to my parents. They agreed to help me financially in whatever way I needed but suggested I start looking elsewhere for dental hygiene. They suggested I look at NYU dental school because students are adorable and cheap. I thought why the hell not, so I called and made an introductory appointment.

The thing about dental students is that they have to work very slowly, as every stage of their work has to be checked by an actual professor. I was okay with this, as long as no mistakes we made, plus it meant more time out of the office – so far this situation was a win win. As my student dentist, Robert, was checking my x-rays at this first visit, he focused on two specific cavities.

“Those are textbook cavities,” he said.

“What does that mean?” I replied.

“It means they’re beautiful. These cavities deserve the greatest treatment possible – to be put on a pedestal.” As he said this, he placed a single hand on the monitor, a tear rolling down his cheek.

ANYWAYS, to make long story short he asked me if we could wait to fill those cavities for his dental boards, the equivalent of the dental school final exam. And in exchange for this, he said he would pay me. As a broke, pretend adult, my immediate reaction was of course, where do I sign. So over the last few months, my student dentist Robert has filled my other two cavities and at one point even threw in a free cleaning. He also prescribed me some prescription toothpaste so that these two cavities wouldn’t turn into root canals.

So after a year of slowly filling in cavities and making random appointments, tomorrow at 8am I will be walking into the NYU dental center to spend 4-5 hours getting two cavities filled while multiple dental professors and students stare into my mouth my long periods of time. I will walk away with some spare change, clean teeth, and the knowledge that I helped a dental student achieve his dreams.

There are worse ways to spend a Saturday.

Dentists

My least favorite place is the dentist. I imagine purgatory to be a dentist’s waiting room with the pungent smell of fluoride and the high hum of the drill in the background. Ominous picture right? It’s not that I have a phobia of the dentist, I just find the whole experience overwhelmingly uncomfortable. There are very few things, which aren’t food, that I want in my mouth.

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Through a series of unfortunate events, I’ve recently found myself sitting in the dentist chair, the horrible paper bib hanging by a cold chain around my neck, looking at a tray of scary looking tools and brushes. My dentist and I were going over my x-rays, and she began to interrogate me about my eating habits. “Do you eat a lot of carbs? A lot of sugars? Chocolate? Do you drink a lot of Diet Coke?” Not gonna lie, I felt personally attacked. I mean really, does it look like I have the body of someone who regulates their diet? Absolutely not.

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You see, it was just explained to me that not only do I have six cavities, but I also grind my teeth at night and will now have to start using a mouth guard. She explained how there were many more visits to her chair in the future. I don’t think you can quite understand the depths of my despair.

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I had also recently made the unfortunate discovery that my current insurance plan doesn’t cover fillings. For the past few weeks, I’ve tried to hunt down the most cost effective place to pay to have someone spend forty five minutes staring into the back of my throat, while physically assaulting me with the weapon of their choice. And along the way, I learned that a tooth has five sides (each of which can have its own individual caviety) and gums have the habit of receding like hairlines. But I found a place and resigned myself to getting stabbed with Novocain accompanied by a lecture.

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There’s nothing quite like getting a filling. You’re very aware of what’s happening to you, every twist and poke and prod, but it’s unnerving feeling nothing but the pressure of the tools.  You just feel this weird vibrating, as you’re staring up at two people, and your trying really hard to not make eye contact or make it awkward. You try closing your eyes, but then you’re forced to open them because the dentist is holding up the mirror, making you stare at your gaping tooth, saying, “No really, you really fucking damaged your teeth. See?? SEE?!”

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This of course could have been avoided had I flossed, says my dentist. She asked me if I flossed and how often; I replied maybe twice a week and gave me the most disdainful look I have ever received, saying twice a day is a goal I should aim for. I personally felt this was uncalled for considering most of us don’t floss at all, let alone everyday (don’t lie to me, and don’t lie to god).

But I can’t help but think she may have a point.