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Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 04:16 PM   #1
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Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
I had a root canal on a molar last week (lucky me ). Amazingly fast (30 minutes after the local anesthetic took), painless, and easy.
Until I got the bill: $1050. Most painful painless procedure I've ever had.
Rich, I've started this separate thread for my dumb questions about root canals. I hope you don't mind more intrusive probing...

When I retired we looked long & hard at dental insurance but elected to go without since the annual premiums have been more than the cost of two checkups/year. I've thought that most people's dental decay throttled way back after age 40 and that brushing/flossing would avoid the problems of adolescence. I've actually had only two checkups in four years and the X-rays have supported that theory (so far). The dentist, while guarded, agrees that it's better than nothing.

I wouldn't fret about going uninsured for one root canal but I'd sure be annoyed if I had one a year for a decade. Was yours a symptomless surprise or are you prone to decay? Did it give you any warning, let alone enough time to consider obtaining dental insurance? Are you facing 31 more root canals eventually, or was this a one-time issue?
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 05:09 PM   #2
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Never thought I'd be exposing my canals on the internet for all to see.

I haven't had a cavity in 35 years, but had lots when I was a kid, resulting in crowns, etc. My dentist noticed some decay along the margin of a 15 year old crown, and when she tried to patch it up, she got very close to the pulp (the "nerve") which set things off. It became painful, hence the root canal. Kind of a flukey thing, she warned me about the possibility, etc.

What surprised me compared to a root canal many decades ago was that the former meant lots of pain, 3 visits, IIRC, etc. This was much, much easier. It's not a procedure you are likely to need unless you have trauma to a tooth, bad decay and hygience, etc. I would not buy dental insurance for this unilkely need. Only covers part of the cost at any rate.

Don't anticipate ever needing it again, though there is that remote possibility.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 05:13 PM   #3
 
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Wait until you have a dental implant! - I have dental insurance, but this was not covered it was considered a luxury item. $5K out of pocket - ouch!

Nords,

I had a tooth swell up overnight - No warning! - It cracked under a filling and got infected. I ran to the dentist the next morning to get the root canal. - Or you could do like Tom Hanks in 'Castaway' and remove it yourself with a rock!
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 05:18 PM   #4
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
It became painful, hence the root canal. Kind of a flukey thing, she warned me about the possibility, etc.
I would not buy dental insurance for this unilkely need. Only covers part of the cost at any rate.
Don't anticipate ever needing it again, though there is that remote possibility.
I never even thought that there'd be a deductible. What a bad deal.

I'm sorry it happened to you but whew, what a relief that it's uncommon. I think I'll go floss now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
Wait until you have a dental implant! - I have dental insurance, but this was not covered it was considered a luxury item. $5K out of pocket - ouch!
No root canals, no crowns, and "only" nine minor cavities from my teen years. This is an area where a few minutes of prevention seems to be worth a lifetime of regret cure.

And I'm a zealot about mouthguards for martial arts!
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 05:28 PM   #5
 
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

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Originally Posted by Nords
I never even thought that there'd be a deductible. What a bad deal.

I'm sorry it happened to you but whew, what a relief that it's uncommon. I think I'll go floss now!
No root canals, no crowns, and "only" nine minor cavities from my teen years. This is an area where a few minutes of prevention seems to be worth a lifetime of regret cure.

And I'm a zealot about mouthguards for martial arts!
Yeah, but you're a young man! - I visit the dentist 3 times a year, Floss daily as well. I've only had 2 crowns, 1 implant, 6 cavities.

Good genes are more important than care!
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 05:35 PM   #6
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Fortunately, I have a medical reimbursement account which is half funded by my employer and since we have had a healthy year and don't need new glasses, etc. this will cover the dental work.

I certainly plan to get any dental work done before FIRE over the next couple of years; any "iffy" crowns or other foreseeable problem areas replaced, etc. Even with meticulous hygiene, those 25 year old crowns tend to occasionally erode at the margins. That can blow a huge hole in your expenses and there's not much you can to prevent it beyond the obvious.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 05:49 PM   #7
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
Wait until you have a dental implant! - I have dental insurance, but this was not covered it was considered a luxury item. $5K out of pocket - ouch!

Nords,

I had a tooth swell up overnight - No warning! - It cracked under a filling and got infected. I ran to the dentist the next morning to get the root canal.* - Or you could do like Tom Hanks in 'Castaway' and remove it yourself with a rock!

Im doing 4 implants and a full denture insert.26,000 bucks.i did get 350.00 bucks from dental insurance though for extracting a remainng bad tooth.Im finally in the final stage after 4 months and hope to have the gums cut away exposing the inserts in two weeks so the dentist can do his thing
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 06:22 PM   #8
 
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

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Originally Posted by mathjak107
Im doing 4 implants and a full denture insert.26,000 bucks.i did get 350.00 bucks from dental insurance though for extracting a remainng bad tooth.Im finally in the final stage after 4 months and hope to have the gums cut away exposing the inserts in two weeks so the dentist can do his thing
Yes, It can get pretty rich. I know a guy that was 72 and had 7 implants and him $35,000. - Of course you can go the cheap route. I know another guy at age 64 that had enough crowns, that he finally had all his teeth pulled and got dentures.

The good thing about going to the Dentist, is that they can actually solve' your problem. IOW - You get something for your money.

This has not been my experience with the Medical Profession though! - Even though it costs you money as well. I have not had much luck with my Allergies.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 06:36 PM   #9
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

After decades of spending thousands on root canals and crowns and bridgework it will finally all come to end.Hopefully after my implants thats it for almost ever with dental expenses.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 06:39 PM   #10
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107
After decades of spending thousands on root canals and crowns and bridgework...
Did you look into the option of leasing them?

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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 06:41 PM   #11
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Good timing. *Just today I received a flyer from Delta Dental stating they are finally allowing self-employed people to buy into their group dental plan.

The rate is $23/single and $57/family. *No deductible, no maximum, no pre-existing condition exclusions.

It covers 100%: Cleaning, oral exams, flouride treatment, x-rays, sealants, space maintainers

Members pay a discounted rate for basic restorative, such as...

$428 for a front tooth root canal
$66 for a one surface silver filling
$98 for a three surface silver filling
$145 for a surgical tooth extraction.

Members also pay a discounted rate for major restorative, such as...

$695 for a full cast noble metal crown
$1,120 for an implant supported metal crown.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 06:45 PM   #12
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

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Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Did you look into the option of leasing them?

ha ha ha now that was funny.....
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 07:01 PM   #13
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

I convinced my company to pay for dental insurance. It seems it would never be profitable for an individual, however.

I have lots of 25 year old fillings that are deteriorating, necessitating crowns. (at least 4 yet to go!)

Our insurance is $57/ mo. per person. 100% for checkups 2x per year, 80% of fillings and root canals, 50% of crowns.

Only problem is it is a max. payout of $2,000 per year, and I'm there already for 2006.

I have two broken teeth I'm ignoring until January, when I can max it out again.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 07:35 PM   #14
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

We recently had about an 8 year span where old fillings needed to be replaced with crowns. DW has 12 IIRC and I have 8. I have also had 2 root canals because a filling in one tooth and even one crown in another came too close to the nerve. Went over the top of our maximums each year for the past 5 years. Crowns can be timed....unless you crack a molar... and root canals cannot be timed. It is like - do it within a few days.

Fortunately, all of this in our 50's. I suspect we are almost done with our dental issues and just in time for retirement.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 08:57 PM   #15
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl
I have two broken teeth I'm ignoring until January, when I can max it out again.
Hockey? Roller Derby?
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 09:44 PM   #16
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

I've looked at the numbers and dental insurance only seems to make sense if you know you're going to need it. People seem to know this; they bunch up dental work and enroll in dental insurance for that year and then drop it later. The insurance companies have to charge appropriately high premiums, because unlike medical insurance they often aren't collecting premiums in the years of low usage.

It only makes sense to enroll when you know for sure you have a lot of work coming up that can be put off.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-06-2006, 09:50 PM   #17
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

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Good genes are more important than care!
My view exactly. I am meticulous about my teeth, flossing, gum care, etc.,.. still, I've have had a lot of work done over the years. Sigh… :P

Quote:
I certainly plan to get any dental work done before FIRE over the next couple of years; any "iffy" crowns or other foreseeable problem areas replaced, etc. Even with meticulous hygiene, those 25 year old crowns tend to occasionally erode at the margins. That can blow a huge hole in your expenses and there's not much you can to prevent it beyond the obvious.
If you are serious about this, you might consider going to Thailand for this care. (example price list http://retireearlylifestyle.com/Dental_Price_List.htm) or check out: Grace Dental Care or Bangkok Dental Spa at http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/thailand_travel.htm - ¾ of the way down the page.

What you would save in dental care you could pay for your ticket, your stay, and do some sight seeing and shopping too. This is no joke.

Quote:
Im doing 4 implants and a full denture insert.26,000 bucks.
A few of our readers have asked us if it was worth going to Thailand for implants instead of paying $20,000 - $25,000 for implants. “My” dentist quoted me $1,350 - $1,620 per tooth depending on if it was a front tooth or back molar.

$1,620 x 4 = $6,480

$26,000 - *$6,480 = $19,520 *The difference pays for air fare, room and board, recovery and enjoyment. * Not a bad deal...

These guys use the latest equipment, speak excellent English and their offices and dental tools are immaculate.

I've had root canals done in Thailand as well as crowns, so I can speak from experience.

Akaisha
Author, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement

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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-07-2006, 02:29 AM   #18
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AltaRed
We recently had about an 8 year span where old fillings needed to be replaced with crowns. DW has 12 IIRC and I have 8. I have also had 2 root canals because a filling in one tooth and even one crown in another came too close to the nerve. Went over the top of our maximums each year for the past 5 years. Crowns can be timed....unless you crack a molar... and root canals cannot be timed. It is like - do it within a few days.
Fortunately, all of this in our 50's. I suspect we are almost done with our dental issues and just in time for retirement.
Oh, great, I'm hoping I have good genes for at least another 15 years.

Maybe I should go on an all-poi & kalua pork diet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy
If you are serious about this, you might consider going to Thailand for this care.
I second that motion. Spouse was able to find a good dental shop in Bangkok's MBK department store. She was with a Thai friend so she was able to negotiate down from farang to "locals" prices. Even at list price her cosmetic dentistry cost an order of magnitude less than Hawaii.
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-07-2006, 02:58 AM   #19
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

dont forget the price they give you for implants of 1600-2000 from what i see and expeirienced is only the surgeons fee.Your dentist gets a seperate fee for whatever the dentures or seperate screw in teeth you decide on.My surgeon was 13,500.00 for the 4 implants,some bone grafting and anesticia.The rest goes to the regular dentist for the permanent screw in bridge and the removal of a bunch of teeth that had to go.We should come in somewhere bewteen 24-26,000 when the complete lower jaw is done
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?
Old 09-07-2006, 08:38 AM   #20
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Re: Are root canals worth the dental insurance?

Dental insurance seems like a loosing bet in most situations. My DW has it thru work for ~$180/yr because she knew she needed a root canal and a crown this year. Our "good" dentist and endodontist are both out of network, so we only got 60% paid on the root canal and 40% paid on the crown, which averages out to around 1/2 of the cost overall. There is usually a maximum payout limit of $1000-$2000 per year, and a deductible. On the private market, dental insurance around here runs at least $300/yr for a max payout of $1000 and "major" services are usually excluded for the first year. So $600 out of pocket for 2 years of insurance that you can only get $1000 out of for a crown/root canal (assuming you can wait 1 year until the exclusion period runs out!).

Add in the hassle factor of dealing with insurance companies, and it doesn't seem like a good deal IF you go to the dentist every year or two, or your dentist is out of network, or you have excellent dental health.
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