by Vicky Monroe
Last week, I finally had my first dental appointment in over a decade. Embarrassingly, I’m one of those people who’s so scared of the dentist that they put off going for years. The only reason I made this appointment in the first place is that half of one of my bottom front teeth literally broke off!
I was afraid I had significant orthodontic issues because I haven’t had my wisdom teeth taken out yet. Luckily that hasn’t impacted things and my dentist said my teeth are actually in pretty good shape overall. I’ve heard that wisdom teeth can cause the rest of your teeth to shift, and I wondered if that was part of the reason why I lost a chunk of my bottom tooth. But the dentist just thinks I ground down the tooth in my sleep, which weakened it and caused part of it to break off.
My Treatment Plan
The game plan my dentist came up with is for me to get my wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon first. Although my wisdom teeth aren’t impacted, there was evidence of infection, so they need to come out. I’m in the process of finding an oral surgeon who will both take my insurance and agree to knock me out. There’s no way I’m undergoing oral surgery while awake without anesthesia!
Based on estimates I saw online, I’m expecting the wisdom teeth removal to cost around $1,000 to $1,500. Sadly, that’s not even the most expensive part of my treatment plan! After the wisdom teeth are out, my dentist wants me to do Invisalign because my bottom row of teeth is misaligned and squished together.
Invisalign for adults usually costs a whopping $4,000 to $5,000, so I asked him if it was really medically necessary. I’m no beauty queen with or without straight teeth, so I wouldn’t want to straighten them solely for aesthetic reasons. I have to admit, he made a really good point, so I think we’re going to go ahead with it.
My teeth are so close together that he suspected I was having trouble flossing between them and cleaning them properly, which is true. If I leave them the way they are, I could eventually lose those teeth when I’m older. I mean, one already broke halfway off! The alignment issues could’ve contributed to the breakage because of how my bottom teeth line up with my top teeth. So straightening them out will also ensure that my broken bottom tooth actually stays fixed when we patch it up.
I don’t know exactly what the dentist is planning to do to smooth the jaggedy broken tooth out or how much it will cost yet. First I have to get through this oral surgery and save up for Invisalign, so we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!
My Next Appointment
My next appointment with the dentist is in August, so I have roughly five months to save up for Invisalign. I’m going to pull the funds for my oral surgery from an account we already have that’s reserved for home repairs, car emergencies, and major health expenses. What’s in that account will cover a portion of Invisalign too.
Dental insurance usually covers 25% to 50% of Invisalign depending on the plan, so I’m probably going to start saving up about $500 a month for it until my appointment to help pay for it in addition to what I already have saved. Looks like we’re going to be slowing down our mortgage payoff for a bit so I can get my teeth fixed!
Have you ever had to get expensive dental work done? Was it worth it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Ashley’s February 2023 Debt Update
Replacing Eggs With Cheaper Alternatives And Planning for Kids
Every Little Bit Counts – Savings Mode
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.
I am admittedly coming at this from the perspective of a non-American, but dental work is essential, not a luxury! Don’t question whether to do it. Your oral health is a mirror of your overall health and teeth and gums are connected to blood, brain, and heart health. Good for you for facing your fears. I hope you’re planning to keep going to the dentist at least every 6 months. Good luck with the surgery! I went under for my wisdom teeth extraction because mine were severely impacted. It was nice to wake up with it all behind me.
Sorry about your tooth and dental issues. I totally get it. I wish dental insurance was on par with health insurance as with every place I’ve worked, I’ve been happy with my health insurance, but my dental insurance has been lacking. I’ve had my own dental issues, and I’m someone who has gone consistently (every 6 mos with very few exceptions) since I first got teeth (thanks Mom). My mom had dentures for as long as I can remember so I’ve always wondered if genetics would make things worse for me. So far so good and at 53 I still have all my teeth (knock wood). I’ve only had 2 wisdom teeth removed (the other two have been non issues, go figure). One was removed by an oral surgeon and that was the best, easiest experience , so highly recommend going that route (the first was done by my dentist and was ok, but I had more swelling and discomfort afterwards). I was awake but was given whatever anesthesia they can give you so I felt nothing. I don’t love going to the dentist, but I don’t have the fear that you do. I had a mass removed from my jaw about 15 years ago which could have cost me several teeth, but fortunately was found, removed and treatment given, that the only real impact was a slight shifting of a couple of lower teeth. I took a major fall a few years ago and my first call was to my dentist to check my teeth (fortunately all was ok, but my face was pretty banged up). My saving Grace with dental costs has been my flex spending acct. I alway set some money aside as I’ve had a few root canals and crowns. I really like the dental office I have through my current insurance and they have always been willing to work with me and my benefits (what’s urgent, what can wait until the next FSA year so I can prepare). Good luck with everything and keep us posted.
Yes I have never regretted any of the five surgeries that I have had. I do wish that for the oral one, that I had been in a better place. I had paid the deductible which was $300 with the understanding that my insurance would pay rest. I was switching out insurance and my surgery end up not being covered at all. I was not notified of this week until two or more months later. How incredibly sad.
Most orthodontists will give you a cash discount of 10%, so having the funds saved is a plus. Orthodontics can correct your bite so that you don’t wear your teeth down. Not doing needed orthodontic treatment can contribute to tooth loss later in life, and it is much easier to just maintain your natural teeth. You are making a good choice.
Good for you for taking care of your dental health! You can’t put a value on health!
Plan ahead and make sure you aren’t going over your annual max for your dental plan. I know mine is some relatively low amount, like $2000 for the year. After that it doesn’t cover anything until it resets. I had a 2 crowns in one year and hit my max easy once you added in xrays and twice a year cleaning. Depending on the costs of everything you may want to start Invisalign in 2024 (assuming it’s not urgent). Also, don’t minimize or overlook grinding/clenching your teeth in your sleep. That can lead to a whole host of problems, not just teeth wear.