Holes in my wallet match the holes in my mouth

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

I sat in the dentist chair with my head tilted back staring into the overhead light while my dentist and his assistant hovered over me like aliens.

“Now, you’re going to feel some pressure,” said the dental assistant.

I tried not to think about how the decrepit husk of my lower molar was being removed and chose instead to focus on how I was going to save my other teeth.

Paying to preserve a tooth might cost more upfront, but more is lost when nothing is done. I am 21 and already I’ve had two teeth removed because of how badly they were decayed.

Thomas Johnson, doctor of dental medicine, said until I get dental work done, I should continue with daily brushing and using mouthwash, I should not rinse my mouth out but let the fluoride sit on my teeth all night.

Those short-term solutions are only a Band-Aid on a larger problem. Now I need to figure out how I’ll pay to actually get them fixed.

According to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), yearly dental insurance for a person can cost anywhere from $166 to $326. And the coverage varies.

The NADP said most insurance policies cover some parts of preventive care, restorative care, endodontics and oral surgeries within the first year. Orthodontics and periodontics coverage comes after a few more years of having the same dental insurance.

My tooth extraction cost $370 and I know I’ll need a lot more work done, so insurance might be the way to go.

I found a list of other options on Money Talks News such as discount dental plans, charitable clinics, traveling to another country for the dental work or paying out of pocket.

I’m currently paying out of pocket and I see trouble keeping up with it in the future.

Another alternative I am considering is health insurance. Washington Apple Health began including dental coverage Jan. 1, 2015. Under Apple Health’s current plan, I would have had to pay $346 for my tooth extraction.

While growing up, I did not take care of my teeth because of a gag reflex. I eventually learned how to properly brush my teeth, but I had ignored the cavities for far too long.

Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away, but ignoring your teeth will make them disappear.