The very first filling I ever got in my life fell out the same day I got it. I went back to the dentist and to have it replaced, but the dentist grumbled the whole time saying the molar needed a crown or something and that this new filling wasn’t going to last without it.
That was almost 40 years ago and I’ve never had a single, solitary problem with that tooth.
Every dentist I’ve seen over the last almost 40 years however has wanted to do something with that molar — from reconstruction, to extraction and implants, to root canal, to crowning. I’ve told them all to leave it the hell alone.
Then, a couple of weeks before Christmas, I was eating some nice soft lettuce and I chipped a chunk off the inside of that molar.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit,” I thought. (Actually, I may have said it out loud whilst spitting out bits of tooth).
Off to the dentist I go.
“It needs a crown,” he says.
I bow to the inevitable. We’ve had a astonishingly good run, but obviously something finally needs to be done.
However, since it’s almost Christmas, the lab is closed for 3 weeks, so the crown had to wait until the new year. The dentist puts on a temporary filling thing and the appointment team booked me in for January 12th – this coming Monday.
On Wednesday I finally got the estimate from my insurance company. The crown will cost $1,180.79, of which the insurance will only pay $546.44 because being an insurance company they only cover major work at 50% and, for some reason are re-imbursing at 2007 rates while dentists are charging at 2009 rates.
So, for those of you without a calculator handy, that means I would have to pay $634.79. And since it’s the beginning of the year there’ll be a $50 deductible on top of that. And, the insurance company will only pay for a metal crown.
So, unless I want to look like one of Karl Stromberg’s henchmen, there’s an extra charge for a porcelain crown.
I get on the phone with the dental office and tell them there is no way I can justify paying that kind of money for one stinkin’ tooth. What are my options? They said they’d have a meeting about it and call me back.
Later that same day, they call back and offer me the following 2 options:
- The dentist will build up the tooth with filling material as best he can. The insurance company will cover that at the usual 90%. However, there is no guarantee that this will last. Some people go for several years before the filling cracks or crumbles; some people crack the filling within a few days. They do not recommend this route because it’s just another short-term fix.
- The dentist will do a porcelain crown for me; have the insurance company send the $546.44 they’re willing to kick in, directly to the dental office and then I pay the dental office an additional flat fee of $420 to cover the rest of their costs.
The floor is now open for your input, advice and horror stories of crowns vs. make-shift dental solutions. I have until my appointment on Monday afternoon to make my decision. On the one hand, $420 is a lot less than $634.79 and I’ll finally be able to close the book on this tooth. On the other hand it’s still $420 for one tooth.