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?
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The sad thing about this….

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

And still….

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$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

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I’LL BE FINE.

Taking some deep breaths and letting Woody be my inner voice this morning.

I have my first dentist appointment this morning. I’m so nervous. I’m also really, really hungry. I can’t even eat noodles right now. NOODLES, fer fecks sake.

I’m not scared of the dentistry part of this. I’m scared of what it’s going to cost. Of course, if it costs too much, I won’t even be able to get more than the basic of the most basic work done. My new married woman insurance has dental but only $1,000/year. I’m pretty sure it’ll be about 10x that.

My husband is taking the youngest with him to his doctor’s appointment while I’m at the dentist. Hubby & I are kinda falling apart. His doctor’s office called last week to let him know that his insurance won’t cover his diabetes meds anymore. The alternative meds sent him to the ER, so this is the only med he can take. Out of pocket cost will be $750 for a 3 month supply. Yay,insurance! I’m so glad we have it.

Anyway, he is more worried about my dentist appointment this morning because he won’t be there. He’s pretty sure I’m going to be a traumatized, emotional mess but mostly, I think he’s afraid that the dentist will say something judgmental and assholish that will make me kick him. Then, not only will we have to come up with money to fix my mouth (and a new dentist who will treat me), we’ll need bail money,too.

I have heard that this dentist is very compassionate. I hope so, for his shins’ sake.

bitches gotta have teeth

One of my favorite blogger/writers Samantha Irby has been talking about her dental issues lately and because the Internet is awesome, there’s now a gofundme because yeah…bitches gotta have teeth  .

Reading Sam’s post today [ bitches gotta eat. – this is what’s up with my teeth.] …oh, I am so hoping the beautiful people of the Internet raise the money she needs. Sincerely crossing fingers.

Her post about what’s up with her teeth? That’s pretty much where I am right now.Except that I don’t have the extra complication of Crohn’s. I also didn’t grow up poor. I was raised in a trailer park, surrounded by a lot of poor people but my own family wasn’t poor. People assume I was poor because of where I lived but that’s another story…
I literally was never made to brush my teeth. I went to the dentist ONCE before I turned 18. The dentist told my mom I needed braces and that was that. We’re never going back to THAT place again. I mean, I figured a lot  out myself…thanks to Dental Health Month and everything but I think it’s probably common sense that someone who brushes their teeth but can’t go to a dentist is probably going to still end up with issues. As an adult, I had some pretty crappy dentists who did more harm than good. And then I had 2 separate accidents that caused me to break my front teeth. I’m a major klutz. It’s also been pointed out that my periods of food scarcity & poor nutrition haven’t exactly helped.

I also have not gotten an official quote from the dentist. I don’t even have a dentist right now. I just got dental coverage through my new married-lady insurance . I’m also pretty scared. I know they’re going to demand my last born child as payment. I know – usually they demand first born but he just turned 24. I don’t know what they’d want with him.

Well, I don’t know what they’d want with my 3 year old,either.

Ok, forget them demanding children as payment because I’m sure this is sounding way weirder than I intended.

Money. They’re going to want a lot of money. That’s what I meant.

The only perk I can find right now in this teeth situation is that I’ve lost weight on my new soup & banana diet. I really did need to lose weight. I’m glad I spent years studying herbal medicine because that’s coming in super handy right now for fighting infection and keeping pain to a minimum.

Everyone remember that one woman who wrote a thing about being poor on the Huffington Post that went viral? Linda Something. (I’m not linking to it. Feel free to use the Google).

I was not a huge gushing fan of that article. I was actually a little furious. In the essay-thing , she mentioned that her bad teeth were the reason she couldn’t get a decent job.  I can completely attest to this being a legit reason someone could not get a decent job. THAT’S ME. I’m educated, great resume, I have all sorts of crazy skills that people used to pay me for but really,the teeth keep people from hiring me now. It’s that bad. So, I wasn’t mad that this Linda chick said that about her teeth. I was mad that she went on Huff Post live to talk about her viral article and guess what?

Her teeth were fine.

Refresher for anyone who might remember that whole article: The Internet came together and raised at least $60,000 for this woman who they thought had a mouth full of rotten teeth and was  living in poverty deeper than anyone could imagine.

I don’t know why I’m rehashing all this because really…. let it go . I just think about that from time to time, especially when someone requests an interview with me and I feel that I have to decline. I am beyond self-conscious of my mouth and every time I talk, I’m pretty sure none of my words matter at all .It’s all undone by the dental nightmare that my mouth is. Well, interviews and job opportunities.  I’ve lost out on some good opportunities because of this. This isn’t just me being insecure. It’s a totally honest truth. It’s been a forthright comment about why I wasn’t hired. People judge people by their teeth . A lot. It sucks because the state of my teeth have nothing to do with how much I care about myself . It’s a pure reflection of poverty.

I am also uber sensitive to jokes about stupid people without teeth now. That shit is not ok.

Someday soon, I will get a quote from a dentist and find out how much money it’s going to take to make me a person again, a career employable woman people take seriously because the words coming out of her mouth are just words and there’s no crappy teeth getting in the way. A friend who doesn’t live in the U.S. says I made a HUGE mistake marrying my husband. I shoulda married someone from a country with excellent dental health care.  I have never understood why dental insurance is seen as an entirely separate thing than Health Care and I’m pretty sure that my insurance will cover like 0.000012% of that I need done.
Um, yeah…. heart disease, sepsis, diabetes,respiratory infections (I have one now) ,and …crap…Alzheimer’s,even. Nah, dental health isn’t important at all!

Excellent. The last sentence has now made me have a panic attack. Tomorrow morning, I think I need to make that appointment. Anyone want to hold my hand when I go? In spirit, even. That’d be cool.