Freaking Out

I have to have a root canal.

And that’s the BEST case scenario.

I have had problems with my teeth for a long time. I had braces when I was younger and my teeth have always been a little unpredictable. The dentist was trying to shift my lower teeth to the left. I came back for a follow-up appointment a few weeks later, and they had shifted too far. He had never seen that happen, so he had to adjust the braces the other way. I spent a lot of time in that dentist’s chair.

My teeth were always pretty strong. I never had a cavity. But that seems to have changed now. I have a couple tiny cavities now. I’m not too worried about those, and neither is my current dentist.

Her big concern is my broken molar. I have this molar on the left side that is seriously fractured. I’ve known about it and it’s been this way for over a year. It doesn’t cause me much trouble, but I knew something would have to be done about it.

I went to the dentist yesterday and found out some details about my mouth that have me freaking out juuuuust a little. Mostly related to my broken tooth.

Best case: it can be saved by a root canal. I’m going to see a dentist out in Germantown next week. If the remaining tooth is strong enough, he will perform a root canal and my dentist will top it with a permanent crown. With proper care, it will last quite a while.

Monetary cost: $500-$800 depending on my insurance
Emotional cost: HIGH

I’m not scared of the dentist. I don’t mind regular cleanings, even though it can get uncomfortable. I am, however, scared of dental work or anything close to surgery. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I asked to be completely put under. I guess a root canal is much more minor procedure compared to that, but still… I am already scared as hell. Especially since…

Worst case: They cannot save the tooth. Then we have more problems to consider. I still have two baby teeth. They are the second premolar/bicuspid on each side of my lower jaw. I’ve known this for a long time, but never really knew what would happen with them. This is not uncommon, according to my dentist. She says they still look mostly healthy and with me being young, she’s not concerned about them right now.

Eventually, they will need to come out. They’re baby teeth, and not meant to last my whole life. I guess they’ll start to wither and die, or something. Basically I will need a dental implant. I think a bridge is also a possibility, but my dentist doesn’t like bridges and thinks implants are worth the initial cost. After doing some preliminary research, I understand her reasoning.

SO… if my broken molar cannot be saved, it will have to come out. And since it’s right next to my baby tooth, it would be foolish to make a bridge on a tooth that will have to be removed. So I would get a dental implant there. My dentist recommended that if that’s what they have to do, that baby tooth might as well come out at the same time. And then I would get TWO dental implants.

Monetary cost: HUGE. Insurance doesn’t like to cover dental implants. I could be looking at around $6,000 for both implants.
Emotional cost: Even huge-r.

If this is what happens, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m about halfway out of my mountain of credit card debt. I’m that much closer to being able to save for a wedding. And now this. I know I live on a very loose budget. I do fun stuff all the time. But even if I really tightened my wallet, it would still take months and months to pay off or save $6,000. That’s about how much credit card debt I have, and it will take me just under a year to pay that off.

If I manage to get by with “just” a root canal, it will wipe out just about all the savings I have right now. That includes the small CD that was the start of my “wedding fund” and the money I put aside for David’s birthday vacation next year.

If that is the way things work out, I’m not totally off the hook with those implants. My baby teeth will need to be dealt with eventually. Probably within the next 10 years. So again, at least around $6,000 for the both of them.

As my dentist told me, “You might as well start saving for them now.”

But… but… in the next 10 years I’d love to go back to school, get married, buy a house, have kids. I know that $6,000 is not that much money, in the grand scheme of things. But right now, to me, it is a fortune. A fortune I was planning on spending on OTHER things.

I love my teeth and I want to take care of them. I believe this implant thing would be money well spent. Meaning, I can’t NOT get them. I don’t want a nasty, rotten mouth. But I’m feeling such a whirlwind of emotions right now with how this could have such a huge impact on my life right now. It’s scary.

David and I are both considering finding and taking on second jobs. I really can’t imagine that existence, but would be willing to handle it for a short period of time. I think I wait to figure out that option until I know the deal with the broken tooth.

So please bear with me as I continue to throw myself a pity party and worry myself sick until my root canal appointment next Wednesday. Then I’ll know how bad it really is.


5 Responses to “Freaking Out”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Wow, girl..yeah, I’d be freaking out too!

    I really hope you get your best case scenario. $6000 out of pocket is just ridiculous!!

  2. Mishy Says:

    ouch. that’s a lot of money. insurance won’t cover most of it? you probably mentioned that alread but you know me, i don’t read much.

    if it helps at all, the root canal experience isn’t very bad, depending on who you ask.

  3. Sierra Says:

    O.M.G.! A root canal is my worst nightmare! 😦 I’m sorry!

  4. Robin Says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry! Hopefully, the best case will work out. I just found out I have to get a crown to replace my filling from 7th grade that’s fractured in a million places. Owe, those don’t come cheap.

  5. suzannefromseattle Says:

    I had six dental implants done in Los Algodones, Mexico (across the border from Yuma, Arizona). The cost in October, 2006, was $850 per implant AND crown.

    In four trips, I’ve had extractions, a sinus-lift, the implants, a root canal, and “regular” crowns.

    If you’d like a copy of the 30-page journal from my first trip, send an email to my address (SuzanneFromSuzanne).

    — Suzanne From Seattle

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