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Dental Hygeine


Surprise, surprise. When you play with fire you get burned. And, we got ourselves a little “ouchie” (as my girls would call it) this month.

Remember how I discussed my husband’s dental issues awhile back and started setting aside additional money for imminent dental needs (I “upped” our dental/vision monthly savings from $50/month to $125/month, starting last month)? Well I suppose we ‘played with fire’ by waiting too long and guess what happened while we were in Utah? Husband started having some extraordinarily painful tooth problems.

He self-medicated with Orajel and over-the-counter pain meds. He toughed it out over the weekend but called a local dentist first thing on Monday morning and got an appointment for that very afternoon. So on Monday of this week, he ended up having a root canal. Yuuuup. So much for our plan to go to Mexico and have it done for half price.

In all, the damage will set us back nearly $2,000. He did purchase a dental discount plan, and that was the discounted rate. I don’t have exact numbers in front of me, but I think the root canal portion was about $800 and the porcelain crown is another $800-$900?? I need to double-check my numbers, but that’s a ballpark figure.

I checked my CapitalOne360 savings account and our dental/vision savings only has a grand total of $225 in it. Plus, I have my vision appointment coming up in September and will need to get new lenses, so I’m going to need most of that money myself.

Since I don’t have money to cover the root canal expense anywhere in our usual budget and we don’t want to pull it out of savings, we’re going to take a little hit on our income this month. Basically, husband is paying for it out-of-pocket with funds that otherwise would have come to me for budgeting/allocation. So the money is being spent before it was ever officially classified as “income.” Does this make sense? Basically, our income is going to look a little artificially deflated this month. Fortunately, I still have a good sized paycheck coming for my summer teaching (and, remember, no check next month due to the schedule of payment). Hopefully my check will help balance things out a little.

I digress. Back to the main isshue regarding dental care.

Husband still has a LOT of other work to be done. This root canal only takes care of his one most pressing issue. So we still have an opportunity to try to save some money on the rest of it. I still vote for him taking a day trip to Mexico to have some work done (the problem with that is it has to be scheduled in advance, not same-day like it was needed this time). I also liked the reader suggestion to try to haggle with the dentists. You may have read some invisible braces reviews and have a good idea of the average cost, see if your dentist can meet you on the lower end. Give them the prices we have from the Mexico dentists and see if they can match the prices, or at least reduce them. But there’s one other potential avenue I’m crossing my fingers about….

Husband recently went and did a bid for a potential customer who turns out to be…a dentist!!! It is exceptionally rare that husband is able to barter work because he does wood flooring and his labor for jobs is generally in the thousands. Because of the high price point, its tough to barter for hair cuts, car washes, lawn care, or whatever else because the price of those items is so much lower that there’s a big risk that we wouldn’t recuperate the labor costs from my husband’s work if someone flakes out or disappears. BUT – his dental necessities are also in the thousands, so this would be a beautiful trade (both parties still paying for “parts”, but getting the labor for free).

Apparently husband was directed to give his bid to the dentist’s secretary (why would a dental secretary handle the dentists’ home flooring bid? I have no idea), but I have urged husband to reach out to Dr. Dentist directly and try to negotiate a trade. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed!!!!!

Have you ever had a dental emergency? How much did it cost you? When I was in High School I chipped my front tooth and still remember it cost $1000 to fix (my Mom paid for it at the time). I also distinctly remember the dentist saying the “fix” (composite material that was bonded to my tooth to fill in the chipped spot), was only designed to last about 7 years. It’s been 12. So there’s that.

Update:  Ugh – crap! I wrote this post Thursday evening and Friday morning guess what happened….I have a tooth that chipped! Did I jinx myself or what??? Luckily its not my front tooth, its a back molar. It’s a relatively minor chip (no pain or sensitivity), but everything I have googled says I still need to get into a dentist ASAP, otherwise decay can set in. What the heck? We can’t catch a break over here with our dental health! Time to invest in dental insurance??? *sigh* : (


  • Reply Walnut |

    I have a tooth that is chipped and it’s on my dentist’s ‘watch list’ for me. My dentist only suggested a fix if it was bothering me cosmetically.

    That said, everyone’s dental issues are different, so my result may be very different than yours. It’s worth calling your dentist and asking them if they feel you should rush in for a fix based on your personal dental history.

  • Reply Kili |

    My boyfriend has one of his front teeth chipped… and has had it like this for ~15 years, because he didn’t want to shell out the thousand(s) it would cost to have it done… he has had no issue with it (apart from the cosmetic one), so agreeing with Walnut that every person might be different (and still reccomending to have it checked out though).

  • Reply Katie |

    Personally, I think dental insurance is well worth the money. Issues with your teeth can lead to a load of other health problems. You don’t want your mouth to be a gateway for bacteria to enter your body. Additionally, your socio-economic status is judged by the appearance of your teeth. If you’re interviewing for jobs, or presenting to potential clients, those perceptions are important. I’d rather see it take longer to get out of debt than for anyone to neglect their health.

  • Reply Maureen |

    I like if you can barter for the services. That would be a great compromise (but also remember it is reported income for IRS purposes). I understand the need to try and negotiate for lower services, but remember that dentists, lawyers, and even hubby in his floor business etc. have spent years in school (or learning the trade) and often have high overhead costs. As an attorney, I have certain thresholds I will not go below because I won’t devalue my services and set a precedent. It cost me over $150,000 to get my degree which I will be repaying forever (and I know you have student loan debt as well), but because I am self-employed I also have overhead, malpractice insurance, taxes, etc. that costs thousands a month (and I run a tight ship). Even though there is some wiggle room for prices on services rendered, also remember that this is people’s livelihood. I think you get that with self-employment. With that said, I think dental insurance might be worth the investment.

    • Reply Ashley |

      You make some good points. I think the main problem I’ve encountered with dental insurance is that it has long wait periods. It makes sense, given that they don’t want to cover a million expensive procedures and have you drop the insurance immediately afterward (and, obviously, these are preexisting issues), but it also means none of our problems could even be covered for quite awhile (the wait period varies depending on the service, but it could be a year before coverage kicks in for the big stuff).

  • Reply Scooze |

    Root canals suck. Sorry to hear that! I want to comment on your budgeting technique for this expense. I’m not clear why you want to remove it before the income ever hits your budget? It’s like you are so mad at the bill that you don’t want to think about it. Ever. Again.

    This will not be helpful to you. I think that you need to acknowledge that this bill happened and put it in the budget like any foreseeable, infrequent expense. By making the bill “disappear” from your budget, you are doing yourself a disservice. At the end of the month, quarter or year, when you look at all of the expenses you had this year, you will see unrealistic expenses for dental. You need to be looking at the full picture to make choices moving forward about how you want to allocate your budget next year. That doesn’t mean that you have to up the dental budget by $2,000 next year, but know that these things do happen. And by not acknowledging the commensurate income, you and your husband are giving up a little pride in having made more money this month.

    And he sounds like a tough one to gut out that pain!

    • Reply Laura |

      I agree with this. You need an accurate account of where your money was going. These things stink, but they happen.

    • Reply Ashley |

      SO TRUE! I laughed a little at first “so mad you never want to think of it. ever. again.” haha < YES YES YES!!! But I think you're right. I was just thinking in terms of what is actually happening (in real life, I will actually be receiving $2,000 less from my husband). But for budgeting purposes I can still record that $2,000 as income and then subtract it out from our "other" miscellaneous category. Very good point.

  • Reply Chelsea |

    I can see why you want to remove that root canal from the monthly budget.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, this is the first time I’ve stumbled upon (no pun intended) your blog, I look forward to reading more.

    Have you ever checked out Mission of Mercy, Dentistry From The Heart, or other “free dentistry” days that could be around the area?

    Local colleges too. That barter deal looks pretty good though, a win-win waiting to happen!

    Here’s to optimal oral health!!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for the tips! I’ve never even heard of these dentistry places so I’ll have to check them out and see whats in our area! Thanks!

  • Reply Shauna |

    Definitely check out dental colleges you can save a ton, and know that the work they did was checked twice.
    Also the more I think about it I know at a certain point you can claim a deduction on your federal income taxes for medical expenses, maybe if you added everything together you would have enough to claim. Tracking this in your budget may be helpful at tax time as well.

  • Reply Hannah |

    Yea go to the dentist ASAP. A chipped tooth can be nothing to worry about OR it could,cause the entire tooth to break.If yourtooth breaks you would have to pull it and put in a fake one – not something you want.
    I had a tooth that half of it broke off and the dentist was able to put a filling on it. I then needed a crown asap.
    I’m glad your husband is getting some work done but he really needs the rest of it treated quickly. Dental problems can kill you.

    • Reply Ashley |

      So true! I read that molars can chip if there’s an old filling in it because somehow it weakens the tooth “wall” around the filling. That’s true of my chipped molar (it’s one I have a filling in that’s probably 12 years old, or older). That definitely scares me that the whole tooth might be very weak and require a crown, so I’m for sure going to go to the dentist and see what they say.

  • Reply Tania |

    Oh no at the chipped tooth! I would advice a visit to the dentist too… last time I had a chipped tooth, I lost the whole tooth (tooth right behind the lower incisors). It never bothered me (pain or cosmetically–even with it gone), so that’s just me. It really sucks all around, but glad the spouse got some relief. I found dental insurance to be a life saver for my wisdom teeth, though. Had to get all 4 of them taken, was looking at $1-2k total, but it only ended up costing $350’ish (plus $317 in dental premiums/yr and free check ups).

  • Reply Susan John |

    Hi Ashley, Sorry to hear about that really root canal is pain full better have a consultation with dentist as fast as possible

So, what do you think ?