Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fleeced, Part 1

Like so many Americans, I am not a medical professional, and therefore, I depend on medical professionals for the best advice, insight, and feedback on all things medical. This includes physicians, surgeons, dermatologists, and dentists. Every once in a while, I get the strong feeling that, while not entirely trying to screw me, some of these medical professionals are focusing a little bit too much on the revenue-generating side of the business and they don't necessarily give me the best input. I really like our family dentist and will keep going there happily, but in 2 out of my last 3 biannual checkups, I have some sneaking and growing suspicions, and I wanted to throw a question out there to my vast dentist reading community. There is even an entire website called dedicated to dentists who love me, so I don't want to alienate those fans.

Three checkups ago, my brother and I were both told, within a couple of weeks, that crowns were the best way for us to go to deal with a tooth issue. At first, I was excited that the dentist was going to make an entirely separate appointment to make and place a bejeweled ornamental headpiece on my head, but then I found out that they were going to cut off part of my tooth and put a new piece on top of the tooth stump. Again I'm no dentist so I don't know the real reasons why a crown would be necessary, but I'm a very regular brusher and flosser, had no tooth pain whatsoever, and I never heard about any of my peers who had crowns. The fact that Steve and I were both recommended crowns within a couple weeks seemed too much a coincidence to be coincidence.

My most recent concern regards the checkup I had Thursday morning. Again, in general, my teeth were pristine, but the hygienist had a small concern about two small areas on my teeth. The dentist came in and took a look, and he was not able to immediately discern whether or not these were cavities. At this point, they brought in a cavity-detecting laser that they stick against your teeth, and it registers a reading between 0-99. 99 means your tooth is like a mealy apple. The dentist indicated to me that a reading between 20-30 indicates the start of a cavity, and one of the areas on my teeth registered a 24 and one a 28. Because of this, I have to again return next week for some very minor filling work that likely won't even require numbing.

First, I don't have proof that someone in the room was fiddling around with the dials to put in whatever number he/she saw fit, let alone that the laser has the ability to detect cavities. It's hard to look around with an implement stuck in your craw. Second, are the readings of a 24 and 28 even filling-worthy? I mean, the dial goes all the way up to 99. Are these guaranteed to turn into cavities, or is this a fine opportunity to hit up insurance and my co-pay for a few extra bucks? This isn't a conspiracy theory or rallying against the vast health care machine, but every once in a while, maybe it's right to ask the question - is this really necessary?

1 comment:

Daniel J. said...

Well first off, I am glad to hear when people question and prod for truth instead of, for fear of embarrassment, silently acquiesce. It is important to be wrong in order to come that much closer to true understanding and even wisdom because we all know that no one knows everything. However, it does seem like the Obama zombies believe he is the second coming and is omniscient. That's a whole 'nother story for a different blogging.
I wish I knew what to tell you about the dentist, but I will ask my dad who is an anesthesiologist and very knowledgeable in all medical respects. I figured I'd just toss in a bit of my philosophy to add another element to this post. Hope you keep asking the important questions and demanding answers, especially when it comes down to your basic liberties and health.