By: Revanche

$10K: a spending projection

August 27, 2010

So “all that cash” I’ve been sitting on?  It’s time for what I imagine as a huge origami ship of money to set sail.

Between both my parents and a denture-happy dentist, I’m warming up the credit card for a massive spend in the next few weeks.  It’s sooner than I expected, but the fact is, holding off on treatment just to save up isn’t a good enough reason. I can afford to pay off any charges accrued now, and they will benefit by having earlier care.

I’ve asked my dad to schedule my mom’s evaluations and get her treatment started. He nervously asked, “What’s your limit?”  As though it might melt the card.

“Trust me, it’ll be fine.”  That’s all I’ll say.

It’s weird that I didn’t really want to say “nearly $20 grand” as if that was the equivalent of saying I have that much money. He won’t abuse it. He hates that he has to use my money for basic necessities like food and gas, but oddly enough, even though I know all the money I’ve saved is for their care, for emergencies, and for the family, I’m still loathe to share any details whatsoever.

Call it force of habit.

Anyhow, I got the call that a few of Dad’s bridges are in now and rang up at a total cost of $1200. He’s got more coming, but he actually tried to decline treatment on the basis of cost!  You know I shut that down immediately.  Feels vaguely awkward, but I instructed him, no questions asked, to make his next appointment before he left that office.  One would think I’d be used to playing parent by now, but it never really fits properly.

As for Mom, the news is … bad.  She’s been hiding her problems so long that it’s now going to cost her 6-8 months of painful treatment, possibly more, to start repairing the worst of the damage.  Talking to the dentist about the recommendations was hearing like a dental student’s boot camp final exam:

Multiple extractions with a 2 month healing period after each one,
Bridges to replace each extracted tooth,
Root canals for severe dental decay,
Fillings for all other teeth with moderate or mild dental decay.

At this point, leaving aside our ridiculously good fortune that this dentist is giving us most everything at cost because it turns out that his mom is a very old family friend, I’m just really worried about how rough this will be for her. For them both, really.

Friends, please take good care of your teeth. The pain and discomfort of this whole ordeal, never mind all the time she kept hiding it from us, is almost entirely preventable.  In her case, maybe less so because much of it was a side effect of the many medications she’s been on for years, but for the rest of us it’s critical to brush and floss twice a day to ward off this kind of problem.

On the money side, I did look into whether my FSA would accommodate these costs but the Dependent Care Assistance portion of the FSA is only limited to day care and educational costs.  Back to out of pocket for me.

11 Responses to “$10K: a spending projection”

  1. Ruth says:

    I remember when my dad had to have post implants for his dentures because they wouldn’t work in his mouth otherwise. Expensive and rough for him. In fact, they took out a small second mortgage for it since mortgage rates were good & the first was nearly paid off. Fortunately they got that paid back off, but it really really really drove home the importance of tooth care for me.

    Hope it doesn’t come to too much. 🙁

  2. L.A. Daze says:

    You’re such a good daughter 🙂

    I feel so bad for your mom! I can’t imagine having to undergo all those painful procedures…and for it to take that long!

  3. Serendipity says:

    I find any kind of dental work to be extremely painful for me. When I was younger my parents really didn’t instill the value of good dental hygenie and I am sincerely paying for it.

    You are a good daughter. You’re an amazing person.

  4. How difficult!

    Sounds like you’re gunna have to spring for the cost to see to it that she goes in to the dentist at least every six months for cleaning and a prophylactic exam. And tell the dentist not to take “I’m just fine” for an answer!

  5. You know my feelings.

    I really hope it isn’t as painful as it sounds, and your mom isn’t in a lot of pain

    Yay for getting things near to cost. I get that too from my BFF’s siblings

  6. Karen says:

    Your poor family. Dental care is the worst.

  7. Abigail says:

    Tim inherited a calcium deficiency from his mom. So all the steroids he took for eczema/asthma combined with that to mean his teeth literally started crumbling in high school.

    By the end, he couldn’t eat solid food. But we’d made an appointment for oral surgery.

    Extraction of 20 or so roots plus planing of the gums (ick)ran about $8,000. Then his dentures ran another $1200ish after his insurance kicked in its amount.

    It put us even deeper in debt but it was SO worth it. He has a lovely smile and he can eat solids again.

    But at some point in the future, we have to get him implants, so that will probably be another $15,000. Yeesh.

  8. Jane says:

    Have you thought about possibly doing it abroad?

  9. Revanche, you are so good to your parents. I admire everything you do for them so very much.

    You’re totally right about proactive dental hygiene: Good dental habits both prevent problems like the one your mom has to deal with now, and also contribute to much better general health.

  10. Revanche says:

    @Ruth: I shouldn’t be surprised in the least that dental care can literally cost a small MORTGAGE. But good grief. Seriously, good grief.

    @L.A. Daze: Just doing what needs doing, you know that. You’d do the same. But I’m just glad that my dad is there to make her go to the dentist on schedule because there’s no way I could do it myself.

    @Serendipity: I’m so sorry to hear that. The good news is that you can definitely maintain from here on out and that will make a huge difference. And like I said, just doing what needs doing.

    @FaM: The thing that chaps MY ass is that they WERE going to get their 6 months’ cleanings, but the dentists who serve the Medi-Cal population were harried, rushed, and basically did crap jobs. One dentist charged my dad for a root canal and never even did it! [insert curse]

    @FB: Yeps, I do know them indeed. She’s doing much better now that the work has started and selfishly, I’m having much less heartburn now that she’s in good hands.

    @Karen: No kidding!

    @Abigail: Dear Lord, poor Tim! I don’t know how he faces the thought of that much more dental work. I don’t yet suffer from dentist phobia but I could easily develop one if I dwelled on the thought of all that pain. In fact, a simple cleaning actually caused a serious flare up in my chronic pain that’s lasted all week, and I’ve been miserably dysfunctional this whole time.

    I guess it could be taken as a blessing that you already know that the implants are necessary so you can save up for them?

    @Jane: No, I won’t risk goin to any health care provider for whom I can’t get personal referrals AND have some form of recourse in case of poor work. That’s difficult enough in the States, much less so overseas.

    @Frugal Zeitgeist: It’s much the same as what you do for your mom, so we’re the mutual admiration society 🙂

    The sad thing is that a great measure of what she’s experiencing has to do with her health (meds) affects her teeth and her poor dental care providers, so like her health, much of it was out of her control. Story of her life.

  11. […] 5 years ago: Delaying dental care is a bad, expensive, idea […]

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