Ask the Internet: Dental Edition

by Ginger on November 23, 2010

in I'm a Disaster

Ok, so this might be the most random Ask the Internet ever, but I just cannot decide what I think about this, and outside input would be appreciated.

Here’s the deal. I have shitty, shitty teeth. I’ve got almost no enamel left on my front teeth, they’re practically see through, there are hairline cracks in most of them, and some of them have giant cracks where the tooth meets the gumline. Oh and they’ve been ground down to nubs (don’t I sound like the most attractive person ever now?).

I’ve had several dentists in the past 5 years basically tell me that if I don’t get veneers or crowns for *most* of my remaining natural teeth, I’ll be lucky to make it to 40 without getting dentures or implants for them. But I’ve hesitated mostly because of the cost. Veneers are not cheap. Crowns are not cheap. My insurance pretty much blows, and rarely will cover veneers at all and only barely covers crowns. I’ve never had the money to spend on thousands and thousands for fake teeth.

So imagine my surprise when my new dentist quoted both veneers & crowns to me at an insane FRACTION  of the cost of what I’ve seen before. Seriously, previous quotes I’ve gotten were $6000-$12000 for 6 teeth, and their quote? $1000-$1200.

So Internet here’s where you come in:

1. Should I jump on this discount? That’s some serious savings.

2. Should I be concerned about WHY it’s such serious savings? The office is very small, and they’re in network (so could have a lower contracted rate), but there’s a part of me that is worried about getting what I pay for…

3. Uh, what would you do?

bekah November 23, 2010 at 4:19 am

You said he is your new dentist, but has he worked on your teeth at all? How has that been? If he has been pretty good, I would go for it.

I guess my thought is that very few people will notice the veneers whereas very few people WONT notice a toothless smile on a 40 year old!

Perpetua November 23, 2010 at 4:41 am

Tough call. It would be hard not to go for the better price, obviously, because 12K is insane! I’d ask to see some before and after shots of previous patients. You could also just come out and ask about the difference, saying something like, “I’m not sure I understand the price. It’s so much less than other doctors charge. How is that possible?” As long as you’re really nice about it, it should be fine.

KT November 23, 2010 at 7:20 am

I would ask the dentist why his price is so low compared with previous quotes. I also like the idea of seeing before and after pictures. Sounds like this is something that you do need to get done.

Lisa November 23, 2010 at 10:40 am

I have mixed feelings on this. I’ve had two sets of veneers and the more expensive set are much nicer. The first set wasn’t really bad, but they were put on in a way that caused me to get stuff stuck around the top and my gums to pull back. They also looked kind of thick and fake. This second set are gorgeous. However, I do know someone that had his done fairly cheap and they looked OK to me.

Oh, and double check the material they are using. The expensive ones are porcelain. The cheaper ones might be a different material. There is something else they make them out of, but I don’t remember what it is called. (My first set were thick enough that my current dentist didn’t believe they were porcelain, he swore they were something else until he tried to drill them off.)

Veneers are pretty labor intensive, so that’s why I’m a little suspicious of the low price. If they’re really doing things right, they’ll spend some time taking your current tooth surface down, then lots of impressions, and then they’ll give you a temp piece to wear until the permanent ones come in (and the temp piece has to be fitted some too, they can shave some off and shape it a bit). Then the lab crafts the individual veneers, which are such thin porcelain that if you held it up to the light you could see through it. There is some more prep to your teeth and then placing them requires being very careful since they are thin.

We paid for mine using Care Credit because it was no interest for 12 months or something, so we budgeted to pay it off in that no interest period.

Ginger November 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Lisa, I think you just clarified a lot of why I’ve been feeling hesitation (without knowing it). Your descriptions of the difference between your veneers is what I’m afraid of, and then the labor intensiveness–it just sets off some warning bells for me.

And the problems you had with your first set? Oh man, that’s what I hope to avoid. All of that.

This makes me think I’m leaning toward NOT doing them with this dentist. Which maybe sucks for my pocketbook, but I’ve reread your comment about 12 times today and every single time my stomach dropped a little more. That should tell me something right?

Elizabeth November 23, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I’d be a bit leery, and would certainly ask *why* there is a huge price difference, then I’d ask for references.

Is there any way you can buy your own premium dental insurance for one year? It may cost a bit, but I can’t imagine that it would cost more than the full set of higher costing veneers.

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