Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605

I measure time by how old my children are. My timeline can be  like BD² (Before Second Kid’s Name That Starts With D…which can get tricky, since all of my boys’ names start with D, so this requires numerical designation after the D )  or AM (After kid’s name that starts with M) or …and so on.

The last time I went to the dentist it was AM but BD². So, between 9-13 years ago. I think M must have been less than a year. I needed a lot of work done back then but I’ve had no insurance and no money to get it done. I still don’t have money but I have some insurance. The ridiculous reality is that, despite being educated & having a shit-ton of experience (highly professional term not commonly used on resumes but should be) in many areas , the way my teeth look is severely limiting my employment opportunities and contributing to me being in poverty.

So, even though we’re living paycheck to paycheck (barely) and NEED food stamps to keep us fed, I decided to bite the bullet & get myself to the dentist to find out what the damage is and how much it’ll cost to fix it.

When I sat in the dentist’s chair, the dental assistance asked me the usual preliminary question. “How are you doing today?”

Typically socially-awkward me replied with ,”Nervous.” I meant to leave it at that but my brain & mouth don’t coordinate well, so out came my entire story about how mortified I was about the state of my mouth and ,”Ohmygod,please don’t judge me. My mother took me to the dentist ONCE during my entire childhood and let me drink 2 liters of soda every single day and I haven’t drank any soda in over a decade and make sure I take good care of what teeth I have and ….”

And on and on I went. I almost cried but didn’t. I think I mentioned something about coconut oil based toothpaste that I made myself and how the ingredients are actually exactly the same as my recipe for homemade deodorant. And clove oil. I know I talked about how much I love clove oil for killing my toothache pain, even though it makes me spasm and wretch like demons have possessed me and fear that Max von Sydow is going to come at me with a cross, chanting, “The power of Christ compels you!” like a broken record.

I was told this dental office was very nice. Nice,not meaning swanky but the way they treat patients. The dental assistant didn’t even hesitate to reassure me and let me know that they are not the judgey types.

Then the dentist came in.

Not quite like that but maybe he should think about offering that as a courtesy to patients.
It just so happens that the last time I saw the dentist, not as a dentist but just as a guy who lives in the same small town, he was at the school Halloween parade. Dressed as Daphne from Scooby-Doo. He made a very fine looking Daphne and it was very hard to focus on what he was saying to me without having the image of him wearing a short purple dress and a long red wig.

The first thing he said to me was, “I’m not going to yell at you,I promise!” . I’m guessing the sweet dental assistant took a minute to let him know, “Dude, this lady is a basket case. Be gentle.”

He was. I was relieved. He looked in my mouth and all the x-rays the assistant took and had to fill a yellow legal pad to write down everything I need to have done. But he was nice while doing it.

At the end of it all, I found out exactly what it will cost for me to have not just an awesome looking mouth but a healthy mouth . The healthy part is important. I don’t want to die early because I live in a country that thinks your mouth isn’t part of your body and therefore entirely unrelated to your overall health.

I know you wanna know how much,right?

The sad thing about this….

it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

And still….



$7,595. Yep. For this amount, I should get a lap dance from Daphne.

Kidding, sheesh.

Dental care is a harsh reminder that we should have managed the money the tooth fairy gave us when we were kids instead of rushing out to spend it on things that were probably bad for our teeth.

I don’t have $7,595 to spend on my mouth right now but I can do a little bit at a time as I have the money. My insurance covers $1,200 of it (good) but I can’t do a payment plan for the rest. The only option this office has for a payment plan is to use Care Credit ,which seems like a good option but I was denied because I have zero credit history. I think I’d rather have that than bad credit history but still…it would be a nice option to have.

At least I have a game plan and this is a good start. I look forward to the day I can eat more than oatmeal and smile in public more.


[blog title seemed appropriate since my oldest son ( D¹ ) is reading Don Quixote and we’ve had many discussions lately revolving around the book… ]


UPDATED TO ADD: My friend Nichole started a fundraiser for my dental expenses. I’m all emotional and grateful about it (because that’s how I am). I appreciate every cent people are able to contribute ❤

Poor as Folk Dental Fund

17 thoughts on “Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605

  1. Beware the fine print on Care credit. They advertise 0% interest for a time, but it jumps to 25% if you make one wrong move. I agree that dental care is a real part of overall health care and should be treated as such.

  2. You’re brave Jupiter! I’m afraid to even go to the dentist to get that list, because I think it will be so hopelessly unobtainable that it will make me feel worse. I know it needs to be done though, because I am down to a few limited places in my mouth where I can actually chew.

    $7,000+ is not really reasonable to people living paycheck to paycheck, but at least it will give you a game plan for any extra money that comes your way. Teeth ARE very important, for eating and health in general, and should certainly be considered as important as the rest of the body.

    I hope you don’t mind me asking, but is the bulk of the cost for crowns or fillings or extractions or what? I’m trying to guestimate how much it will cost for me by what I already know needs to be done.

    I know you’re probably suffering from sticker shock etc., but you really managed to make it an entertaining post!

    1. There’s several extractions and partial dentures. A few fillings. Some root scaling.
      On a positive note, the teeth I have that are in good shape are really awesome, so there’s something LOL

  3. I’ve considered care credit for Mr. Brickie’s teeth on more than one occasion. I should probably just do it because mouth health is important, but I’m sure when I do I’ll be denied and all my worrying will be for nothing. Good luck getting your work done and I’m glad it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be.

  4. Gah. This is something that makes me ache, thinking of how much misery teeth caused my family. I am so glad my godmom, who usually has a no-loans-ever policy, could help my brother, but my gladness is tempered by sadness of the many who do not have that option.

  5. Dental care is a rough one. When I was pregnant many, many, years ago I lost a lot of teeth. I was sick a lot and my body was depleted of vitamins. I also thought soda was the only source of liquid acceptable to drink. I have over the years had many root canals, and caps, two bridges, and tried a particle denture (that did not work for me). I am still missing a few back teeth. Last week I was referred to a gum doctor for more work. They will file my insurance but I have to pay in advance. $70.00 just to find out what they are able to do. I have insurance it pays 50 percent of reasonable and customary which means it pays more like 30 percent when all is said and done. I have had to get part of my work done one year then part done another year some time over three years. in order to help offset the cost. When I filed bankruptcy medical and dental bills are the main reason. In all fairness some of it was just poor money choices. I started believing the credit card ads telling me I deserve all the things I wanted.
    In any case, I feel your pain! I will help spread the word about the funding page. Good for you for going and seeing where you need to start.

    1. But it’s not all about oral hygiene. My husband was never taken to the dentist until he was 18. But he luckily has the teeth that don’t decay. I’ve had attention all my life, but I seem to have crumbly teeth that need continuous maintenance: root canals, crowns etc. I do agree with Cervantes. If you can, preserve the tooth.

      1. My twins have never been to the dentist and I feel so terrible about this but fortunately, they have great teeth. They now have insurance, too so it’s on our list of things to do.

    2. I hope you get to have the rest of the work done :-/ I can totally relate to the med and dental bills putting you under. They are the only debt I have ever had… and we used our income tax return to clear everything this year. I’ve never had a credit card because I suspected I would have thought I needed ALL the things :-p

      Pregnancy was rough for my teeth, too. I’ve also had calcium deficiencies a few time in my life…can’t have helped.

  6. I went in a few years ago in October and came out with a estimated bill about 1/2 of that with root scaling. We got 800 (of insurances money) done before Dec 31 and then on jan 1st I got a new 1000 of insurance money to spend on my teeth. We spent that also and then stopped for a couple of reason. Maybe see if you can get some of the cost put off until next year when your insurance has to shell out more money for you.. We got the root scaling and the absolutely worst teeth done at the time between 4 appointments and 5

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