Periodontal Persecution of the Amex Variety

July 28, 2005
I should probably start an entire separate blog about my dental experiences. In fact – here lately, it seems that I’ve been visiting dentists like I’m some sort of “official dental critic.” I’ll have to start giving a “rank out of 5 drills” or something.

Well – I went to the “other/cheaper/will work on pregnant women” guy today. Backstory is here.

First impressions were good. The seats in the office were roomy – and we all know how important that is.

Well – I get into the exam room with NO DOOR on it and it’s just in the middle of chaos. The front desk is right across the hall and about 10 chicks in scrubs are milling about and laughing and talking at TOP VOLUME. In fact, one of them slapped another one on the ass, I kid you not. (And, NO CHAD, you may NOT see this dentist. Ever.)

So after a million years, one of the assistants comes in to debrief. And I’m telling her the whole “I’m pregnant and this other jerk wouldn’t do the root canal and the endodontists are like the mafia” saga. She of course, stops me after “pregnant” and says – “Oh, you are?”

I swear to you – the next time someone says that to me, I’m going to say “Noooooo – I’m just REALLY, REALLY fat.”

Anyway – she comes back after talking to the doctor and says there won’t be an xray because the doctor is uncomfortable with it. She says they have other ways of telling whether or not you need a root canal without xrays. (!!!) And then she pulls out what appears to be canned air – only it’s called Dental Freeze or something. I began to get alarmed because I know full-well that my doctor has approved xrays with the lead vest and I’m not about to let them spray canned air on my tooth.

I’m trying to convince her to just walk two doors down to the jackass I saw the week before and get those xrays. There is no convincing. Even when I explain that it’s just right there.

So while I am attempted to wrap my mind around all of this – some dude in khaki scrubs comes in and introduces himself as “Joey.” I assume he’s the dentist. He then begans poking around in my mouth and speaking in dentobabble to the asssistant at about 100 miles an hour. Then he starts talking about pregnancy gingivitis and blah blah. Then he says he’s going to do a “gum test” which basically consisted of him poking at my gums with a very sharp object and seeing if they would bleed.

You can only guess the results of that.

More dentobabble, something about pockets, and then my mouth is being filled with water and my teeth are being scraped at the same time.

Ah – a teeth cleaning.

I’m thinking “Did I come in here for a teeth cleaning? I don’t think I came in here for a teeth cleaning? How much IS a teeth cleaning, pray-tell? What about the tooth? What about the root canal?”


Might I add that while this was going on, “Joey” was carrying on at least 3 conversations with scrub-clad girls who kept walking in and asking all manner of questions – some dental-related, some not. Unfortunately, the dental related ones were about mistakes he’d made on someone’s chart – and then he repeatedly said that he was “brain dead” over and over again for the next 15 minutes.


So after all of the scraping and the water and face sucking – he says he’s going to do some sort of hydroblkahdlkhfg flush in there – no clue what he’s talking about – only it tastes terrible. Basically he just used a needle-less syringe filled with some crap and poured it all over my gums.

Then he takes out the canned air and begins shaking it. He says he has to do a “pulp vitality test” (their answer to the xray). I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the word “pulp” thrown around at a dentist’s office – especially when I’m in the chair. You’re just one word away from “bloody pulp.”

So this “test” consisted of him putting a very small piece of cotton on the end of a long pair of tweezers, spraying the hell out of it with the canned air, putting on my problem tooth and saying “Does that hurt?”

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

And you know the worst part of it – that “test” was $41. I saw it on my itemized statement.

So after all of that, he THEN he tells me that the dentist will see me in a moment.

The dentist?

Well who the hell are you?

I don’t voice any of this, mind you.

Apparently, “Joey” was some sort of lower-level periodontal hygienist or something.

A million years later the dentist comes in. He looks in my mouth for a total of 28.02 seconds, talks to me for approximately 3.29 minutes and then I’m shaking his hand and waddling to the pay counter.

That’ll be $156 for today

Excuse me? What?

Now- I had every expectation that I would go in and have a consultation ($25 according to my dental fee chart) and an xray ($10) and then I would be placed on antibiotics only to return in a week and have the procedure that would cost the $535.

As it turns out – “Joey” and his periodontal antics cost a whopping $134.

$134 for a teeth cleaning?

Oh no – that was a “full mouth debridement.”

Ummm – can you REbridement it?

Apparently if you call it a “tooth cleaning” it’s $27, but if you call it a “debridement” the price shoots WAY up.

Hmmm - let me look this up online.


Look at this!!!

From the page

Question from Ray:
I went to a new dentist and he recommended a full mouth debridement. I'm a little surprised at this because I have been getting routine cleaning every six months for years and no other dentist mentioned this. But what I really don't understand is that the dentist now refuses to do a routine cleaning. He says that if he did that, then he would be performing suboptimal care and that would be more or less unethical. According to him, it's the full mouth debridement (not covered by insurance) or nothing. Is this as bizarre as it sounds?

Response from David:
Ray, you have been taken for a ride. Almost the same thing happened to me. I now live in Florida and the dentist took boku x-rays, examined my mouth without cleaning and then said I need to come back for a debridement, which I get to pay $250 for because it's not covered by insurance. I won't name the insurance company, but my favorite color is blue. It seems they have a nice scam going between the dentist and the insurance company. The insurance company picks which dentist you can go to and then the dentist does a routine cleaning, only now he calls it a debridement which is not covered by the insurance company and he gets to charge three times as much. I have lived in many states and this is the first {Florida} that I have encountered this behavior.
It gets better! I called another dentist on this insurance plan and they told me anytime they remove tartar with a pick it is called debridement, cleaning under this insurance plan is just polishing your teeth. My first clue to the fraud was that the insurance company would let you join the dental plan and you were almost immediately covered, the catch is that you have to pay the insurance premium for the entire year up front. The first time you become aware of the ride is when you visit their dentist and almost nothing is covered because the dentist insist on renaming common procedures and performing expensive extras that are not covered and if you refuse to allow everything they want, then you can walk. But you still get to pay for the x-rays and the evaluation. Plus, the bogus insurance company gets to keep your money. I have written a letter to the Attorney General, I hope you will do the same.


Anyway - at the pay counter,I handed over the amex and prayed to God it would work. Somehow it did.

In any case – it turns out that they can do a temporary fix in two weeks instead of a full root canal so I won’t have to have the canal until after the baby is born. The cost of the fix - $42.

I hope to have some sort of insurance that covers pre-existing before it’s time for the root canal next year.

So – that’s the story of my dental hijinx today.

Dental rating: 1 out of 5 drills

6:13 p.m. ::
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