Saturday, May 5, 2012

Teeth Are For Buying

My teeth are out to get me or at least break me.  I've always had cavity-prone teeth.  No matter how much brushing, flossing, extra fluoride tablets, and fluoride rinse I used as a kid, I always had a cavity at the dentist.  In fact, the last dentist that I had told me that I had too much fluoride and it stained my teeth.  It wasn't until most of my teeth had fillings that the cavities started to slow down.  I hoped that was the end of it but I knew that my father had shown me his own mouth full of crowns so it was just a matter of time until I had my own set.  I was hoping it would be later rather than sooner but it turns out the fillings don't last forever.  Since I got most of my fillings as a child they started to get loose and more cavities formed.  I don't even know how many crowns I have now.  I think I have 8 but I'm not sure.

So, I went to the dentist on Wednesday and I got bad news.  I need a crown.  There is a cavity next to a filling and although they could try to just do a giant new filling, I would eventually need a crown.  I decided to go with the crown but it is going to cost $1,100.  I was sad because I cancelled my dental insurance a few years ago when I was going to retire early and get my dental work done in Mexico.  Well, I don't feel like using vacation time to go to Mexico twice to get this crown so I will have to pay $1,100.  Luckily, I have a health savings account and my employer contributes $500 a year.  I didn't have many medical bills last year so there is $1,600 in the account.  That is a relief.  I thought I was going to have to use my tax return for dental work.

I did a quick comparison of what I would pay with dental insurance verses without insurance.  Turns out that if I get one crown every 4 years then I would pay the same whether I had insurance or not because insurance costs $390 a year and 2 cleanings plus xrays only costs $250 a year.  It seems like my teeth need something every 2 years but maybe someday they will all be crowned and I won't have any more problems.

I am so glad that I increased my contribution to my health savings account a few months ago.  I put $100 in it a month.  It sure is nice to have that money available when I need it.

Bright and early Monday morning I will be back in the dentist chair.  What a way to start a new week.


Lizzie @ her homeworld said...

Well that is really not something to look forward to. Hope house & dog situation is better than tooth situ.

My Frugal Miser said...

Sorry to hear that. Dental work is never any fun. Out of curiosity, what research did you do about getting dental work done in Mexico? I'm curious how much the savings might be. I've heard about people taking vacations to other countries to get medical work done but never even thought of having dental work done. Seems like it would be a nice excuse to vacation south of the border.

Dave said...

I don't know about your former dental insurance policy, but mine paid only 50% of the cost for crowns, so not having insurance is not as much of a negative as you may think.

That being said, I made sure to have my second and last (we hope) crown done in 2007 before I expected to lose my dental coverage at the end of 2008 when my COBRA expired.

And not having dental insurance any more has been a breakeven deal compared to what the COBRA premuims, deductibles, and copays for visits every 6 months and about 1 small filling cost me. I made sure to get any costlier work (the aforementioned crown and two extractions) done just before I lost the coverage at the end of 2008. It does surprise me a bit that your breakeven level would include a crown every 4 years but I guess YMMV.

Daizy said...

Lizzie, my sick puppy was eating and playing today. That was much better. Unfortunately, I think her siblings are getting sick too. The house is still great!

Daizy said...

Frugal Miser, I went to the dentist in Nogales, Sonora back in 2009.
Reading my old post it said a crown cost me $140 x 2 visits so that's $280 (plus gas and time). It is around an hour drive one way.

Daizy said...

Dave, looking back on my old post I seem to break a tooth or get a large cavity next to a filling which requires a crown every 2 years. I sure hope I run out of teeth to crown soon! This cannot possibly go on forever.

I think my calculation was $250 for cleaning and x-rays plus $1,100 for a crown verses $320 for insurance and $550 for a crown. So every year that I don't have any extra dental work saves me $180. That would mean I could get a crown every 2 years. Well, anyway, not having dental insurance is that as big of a deal as I thought...except that I should get my wisdom teeth out. You were smart to get your major work done before your insurance was gone.