The other night my six year old complained that he couldn’t sleep because his tooth hurt. I asked him to point to where it hurt, and he pointed to his top left side, way in the back. And sure enough, I saw a tooth back there that had a dark spot in it. I thought it might be food, so I poked around with a toothpick to see if I could get anything unlodged, but nothing was there. It was just a dark pit in his tooth.
A cavity. Nice.
So I took him to the dentist the next day, where x-rays confirmed that it was indeed a very deep cavity. The dentist compared the x-ray to his last x-ray which was taken barely a year ago. In that x-ray he didn’t even have the start of a cavity in that tooth – so this cavity managed to grow in just a year’s time to the point that it was deep into the root already. Not good. That was why he was having pain.
The dentist explained that although this was a baby tooth that he would eventually lose in a couple of years, they always did all that they could to preserve a tooth whenever possible. He went on to say that he recommended a baby root canal, and told me all about what would take place in this procedure. And I listened. It sounded like a lot of work just to save a baby tooth, but whatever. If that’s what his pediatric dentist recommends, then that’s what I would do. Whatever is best for my kid, you know, because I’m a good mom like that.
So I went up to the front desk to make his appointment for the following day to have this procedure. I wrote them a check for the visit we just had, and then the receptionist handed me an estimate of what I’d be paying tomorrow….
that’s five HUNDRED and FIFTY dollars
for a baby tooth?!!
I thought it was a mistake.
So I said to the receptionist, “This is before my insurance pays it’s share, right?”
And she said, “No. This is your portion. Your insurance only covers 40% of the bill.”
My jaw dropped. I didn’t even try to hide my shock at the price. All I kept thinking was … for a flip’n baby tooth?!!!
So I said, “Well, how much if we just pull the dang thing?!!”
At this point I saw the other two receptionists behind the desk look up at me, and I know why. They wanted to get a look at the loser mom who’d rather her kid lose a tooth than to pay to fix it. I had gone from good mom to bad mom in about a 60 seconds.
The receptionist’s eyes widened a bit, and she said “Excuse me?”
“How much will it cost if the dentist pulls the tooth out?”
She looked at me as if I had just suggested the guillotine for my son.
“You mean….an extraction?”
I guess I wasn’t speaking dental talk.
“Yes, for an extraction. How much?”
“Err, uh…well, let me check…”
So she did some things on her computer, and then looked up at me.
“Your portion after insurance would be $50.”
I said, “Fifty dollars to pull it?”
“Yes, for an extraction.”
“Okay, let’s do that instead.” I said. We made the appointment for 9:00 the next morning.
I walked out of there knowing that the ladies behind the desk must have thought I was the worst mommy in the world that I would render my child toothless over a $500 difference in payment…
But you know what I say to that judgement? BITE ME! That’s a five HUNDRED dollar difference!
And it’s a BABY TOOTH, people! He’s going to lose it anyway! Seriously. I felt fine with my financial decision on this one. No mommy guilt at all.
I told Andrew all about his bad tooth and that tomorrow it would be pulled out of his mouth and it would not hurt him anymore after it was gone. He said, “Will it hurt when they pull it out?” and I said, “The dentist will make it so that you don’t feel any pain.” and of course he asked, “How?” So I told him that he’d get a few numbing shots in his mouth, and that the shots only pinch a bit but soon after that he would not feel anything on that side of his mouth. And he was perfectly okay with that knowledge.
The next morning he woke up looking forward to having his tooth pulled. I reminded him of what was going to happen, the shots and all that, and he was still fine with the whole thing. Brave boy.
We arrived at the dentist at 9:00 sharp. When the dental assistant called him from the waiting room, she said, “Hi Andrew! We are going to give your tooth some sleepy juice, okay?” and he looked back at me all confused.So I asked, “Your going to give him what?” I did not order any kind of juice – what were they going to charge me for now? and was it covered under my insurance?!!
“Sleepy juice.” she repeated.
And so I thought she meant the nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) which I did not want him to have, mainly because I didn’t want my kid acting like this on the ride home…
So I said, “Sleepy juice? You mean the nitrous oxide? I don’t want him to have that.”
And she said, “No, not that. I’m referring to the juice that makes his tooth go to sleep, you know…” then she kind of winked at me.
I guess I’m a little slow with clues, but then the light bulb went on and I said, “Oh, you mean the numbing shots! Okay, I get it now.”
Well, I might as well have dropped the F-bomb by the look that she gave me. She looked absolutely mortified, and quickly tried to hush me, “Oh, we don’t say that word…” and she gestured toward my son with her eyes, as if to say, “He’s listening!!”
Sleepy juice? Please. They are shots. As I kid I had plenty of dental work done, and my dentist always called the numbing shots “shots” — not “sleepy juice”. Give me a break.
Anyway, I got a few more looks from the receptionists. Yep, bad loser mom is ‘da the house…saying the “S” word out loud for all the children to hear.
Andrew skipped over to “the chair,” climbed up, and began watching the Cars video on the overhead monitor that was dangling just 6 inches over his head. Each chair has them, each with CD players and video games. Kids these days have it so easy. Where was my personal tv back when I was having dental work done?
Seeing that Andrew was at ease, I went back into the waiting room to…well, to wait until he was done. In about 20 minutes, out came Andrew with a big wad of gauze sticking out of the side of his mouth. I won’t say he was the most cheerful that I have ever seen him.
“Did it hurt, buddy?” I asked, when I saw the look on his face.
“No.” he said.
“Then what’s up with the face? You seem upset.”
“I don’t like this….” and he pointed to the wad of gauze in his mouth.
Once we got home, he made me change the gauze every 3 minutes. He didn’t like how it got all wet and “yucky” with blood. The bleeding stop within 15 minutes and no more gauze was needed after that, so he was a happy boy again, and was having fun showing his siblings the hole in his mouth where his tooth was. When he smiles you can’t see it, but when he pulls back the side of his cheek you can.
The dentist says that when he’s around 9 years old the new tooth should come down, and because there’s no baby tooth there it might even happen sooner. So my boy won’t be toothless forever, don’t you all worry about that. And he was thrilled with the $2 that the Tooth Fairy left under his pillow that night.
So you see? It all worked out just fine. Andrew has something to show off to his friends — because to a six year old there’s nothing more cool than a missing tooth — there was no pain involved, and both he and I have more money in our pocket.