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Dental Debt and What I Want


Some people have good teeth.

Some people have bad teeth.

And even still, some people have teeth that make Steve Buscemi look like a Colegate smile model.

I’m in the last category.

Oh, you can’t tell to look at me. I have a beautiful smile – but I’ve spent more on my teeth than most people spend on their first home.


A) My dentist was an elephant poacher in her previous life and she can’t rid herself of the desire to create enough pure ivory piano keys out of my teeth to furnish a grand piano… or two.


B) My tooth enamel is as effective at preventing cavities as a double fudge cake is to weight loss.

I brush, I floss, and I rinse twice daily. I avoid soda and sugar. BUT… according to my dentist, some people are destined to have bad teeth.

And I am destined to pay her dental school loans.

Obviously my dental woes affect my ability to pay off debt. I recently finished paying off a $1,500 dental loan, but there is always more work to be done.

I also recently interviewed for a job with one of the most inclusive dental plans I’ve ever seen.

They reviewed the information with me at the end of the interview and I’m hoping they didn’t notice I had stars, exclamation points, and highlighted sections around the ‘Dental Benefits’ section.

Ahh. To be free of dental debt – past and future – would help a lot.


  • Reply Stephanie PTY |

    So true! I really need to check into what my dental plan covers. I’m young enough that I’m still covered under my dad’s plan (it’s this crazy awesome plan that covers me until I turn 26, even if I’m not in school!), so I’m thinking it will be best to have the majority of my work done while still under that plan. I need some money first though!

  • Reply Katie |

    I feel your pain. I have no dental coverage at all. I have an appointment Monday to go see the dentist. The first time in 2 years. I have managed to save $1,000 specfically for the dentist. I only hope it is enough to cover everything I need to have done immediately.

  • Reply Shawn |

    When I was in third grade I did something really stupid. I was at the chalkboard drawing pictures after taking a quiz when the teacher told everyone to “run back to your seats”. I took her literally and ended up tripping on a classmate’s leg that was stuck out in the aisle. I ended up face first into the edge of a desk, chipping my left front tooth, which had just come in a few weeks before that.

    Now I’m 30 and just at the end of paying off dental bills for getting a dental implant when my permanent tooth cracked up through the root back in 2006. My dental insurance didn’t cover any of the procedure except minor things here and there, but the majority was left up to me (and luckily my parents also helped a bit because they understood how difficult it was for me).

    I did have a bit of an emergency fund before that, but over the last few years I have been struggling to even keep a three-figure amount in my fund. Not fun at all.

  • Reply Michelle |

    I agree about the dental bills … I think ours are something in the $3K range still….
    anyway, we recently came across a mouth care system totally endorsed by dentists — AND IT WORKS. Cavities find me wherever they are but this system works and it WILL SAVE YOU DENTAL BILLS. honest. htttp://askdrellie.blogspot.com

    This would help your readers save money on dental bills as well.

  • Reply Debt-Free Dan |

    My wife just had a root canal done and it was $790. Even though we have decent insurance, we had to pay a $50 deductible and the rest is covered at 70%. (Our dentist is out of network, but in-network is covered at 80%). They actually charged us 50% + $50 and say they’ll refund it “if anything’s left over”.

    I hadn’t noticed them doing this before, but it happened that it drained the last of our FSA account (which started the year at $2000). I’ve been bumping the FSA up each year, but last year we had braces (that we paid up front in cash and got checks for every quarter).

    I have only just realized that you can spend all of the year’s FSA contributions before you actually contribute all of that money. If you leave the company then you aren’t obligated to pay for what you spent but did not contribute. Conversely, if you contribute more than you spend before you leave, you don’t get it back either. For that reason, we’re weighting our medical expenses to the front of each calendar year, just to be on the safe side. That’s when we get glasses, contacts, etc.

  • Reply Little Miss Moneybags |

    I am in the same boat–I take excellent care of my teeth (brushing, flossing, rinsing, even prescription toothpaste, the whole nine yards), and still have cavities every time I go to the dentist. I’m in the final stages of my third root canal/crown in five years. I just got the bills for this–my share (after 50-80% coverage by my insurance company) is almost $700.

    Maybe it’s genetic–three of my four grandparents had entire sets of dentures by the time they were 40.

  • Reply Melissa |

    Two of my younger siblings had 10+ teeth pulled and replaced with fake teeth before they turned 5. There wasn’t anything that my Mom could have done to prevent it, other than getting each tooth treated as it came in (which she now has done with their permanent teeth.) On the other side of the fence, I’m 22 and have never had a cavity. My father will be 50 this year and hasn’t had one either. (He and I are blessed with gum disease though!) So much with teeth is hereditary and beyond our control, in my opinion.

  • Reply Slinky |

    Blah! I hate dental bills! My dental insurance is pretty mediocre. They pay completely for routine stuff, but everything else is 50-60%. Even just paying half blows through my yearly maximum pretty quickly too. I just had a lot of work done, including a root canal. It’s looking like I’ll have to pay out of pocket for the crown if I want to get that done before next January. That’s a long time with a temp filling!

  • Reply Honey |

    I have horrible teeth as well. Though they fortunately are very straight, they are – and have always been – riddled with cavities.

    My poor parents never had any sort of insurance plan that I’m aware of so everything was out of pocket growing up. Although I’m about 30, I have been in school until a year ago (I just finished my PhD) so I have only been to the dentist about 4 or 5 times since turning 18.

    When I got that dental coverage, the first thing I did was get some x-rays and an estimate. I had about $2k of work to be done in addition to having my wisdom teeth removed – about another $2k. I opted to have the wisdom teeth removed first since they have been giving me trouble for years, but the INSTANT my benefits allowance renews in October I will be making an appointment for the other work.

  • Reply mapgirl |

    I don’t know if this would work for you, but a friend of mine had veneers prescribed for her by her dentist because her teeth were so weakened by acidic foods that they were going to break apart. (She grew up eating lemons like oranges and it ruined her enamel.)

    Just a thought b/c reclassifying stuff as medically necessary usually increases your coverage.

    As for me, I spread out all my dental work over 3 years and hardly went into debt for any of it. (But I also spent 5-figures on it too. And a lot of work had to be done because I ignored them for so long!)

  • Reply SavingDiva |

    I feel your pain! I had an accident as a kid, and I have had crazy dental bills! I constantly have to repair/replace the veneer/crowns

  • Reply Kristy @ Master Your Card |

    Ugh! I just got my braces off in February and that was a nice $5500. I still have to have my wisdom teeth roomed and I don’t relish the cost on that…I was last quoted around $2000 because three of them are impacted – I think that’s the one that means they’re still under the gums, I get them confused. At any rate, that’s pretty pricey for me. Not looking forward to forking that over. Plus, since I just got my braces off, when I went to get my teeth cleaned on Wednesday, the doc said I had a lot of tartar build up because of the braces. She says it happens because even with flossing, it’s just hard to get around the brackets. But, there was so much “crap” they want me to come back in 3 months instead of 6…yippee. That’s an out-of-pocket expense!

  • Reply Beks |

    Ugh! I feel you! I have my wisdom teeth still! I can’t afford to have them removed. Fortunately, I was only born with two and they are straight. I’m going to keep them as long as humanly possible!

So, what do you think ?