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Old 11-22-2011, 10:38 PM   #21
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Last time I was at the dentist I asked about the cost of things if you don't have insurance. It's $91 for cleaning and exam with x-rays.
Whoa, I just had a cleaning and x-rays and it was over $200. Maybe I should do a poll to see what everyone is paying.
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Old 11-22-2011, 11:37 PM   #22
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I retired about 18 months ago, and thought I had everything pretty organized and planned out. But I missed one thing, dental costs. I get the privelage of having a wisdom tooth pulled as it has a cavity in it and dentist said its not worth fixing especially since it is tight against another tooth. He doesnt pull teeth so I was referred on. It will cost close to $400! I wonder if I bring the pliers and the whiskey if I could get it under $200 After this is done, I will have spent about $750 this year on my teeth, which is almost as much as my yearly health insurance. Granted this is a rant and isnt going to break me financially in anyway, but it makes me ponder the future cost of dental costs.
It appears dental insurance isnt really worth it.
I guess it depends.

I've been to the dentist four times since I retired from the military-- once every 2-3 years. Each time I've paid between $135-$175 for x-rays, exam, & cleaning. (The cleanings have been minimal.) I wear a $1.50 mouthguard for sparring taekwondo. So far so good.

There's probably a genetic component to dental health. I've also heard anecdotally that dental decay slows way down starting in your 40s, but I've never seen that in print. I brush almost every day, use a fluoride rinse (Hawaii water is fluoride-free), and floss 2-3x/week.

Those expenses mean that it's cheaper to self-insure than to have insurance, even for an occasional broken filling. But I haven't had a filling in over 30 years, I don't have gum problems, and I wouldn't recognize the symptoms of anything leading to a root canal.

I would guess that a root canal/crowns every year or two would mean that dental insurance is cheaper. The problem is exclusions and deductibles. The military's Delta Dental had so many of those that we paid for our kid's dental exams (and orthodontia) out of pocket and still came out ahead.
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Old 11-22-2011, 11:42 PM   #23
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I was surprised (and not in a good way) after I RE at how much more routine dental costs were without dental insurance. Basic services were costing me about 50% more since I was no longer receiving a negotiated rate. I solved this problem by purchasing a dental plan (not insurance, but a discount plan). The plan costs me around $100/year, but saves me more than that with just two routine visits a year. And if I require any other dental services, I'll save even more. You might want to look into something like this and see if it will save you money.
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:14 AM   #24
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My implants are going to cost a bit over $10,000 and have taken two years. I've been exposed to enough dental X-ray (although they all swear that they are safe) that I think I'll give the nuc submariners on board a run for the most like to glow in the dark prize.

I looked at dental insurance but the 3 year before period before they'd cover anything major like root canals or implans made me think why bother.
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Old 11-23-2011, 10:06 AM   #25
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I was surprised (and not in a good way) after I RE at how much more routine dental costs were without dental insurance. Basic services were costing me about 50% more since I was no longer receiving a negotiated rate. I solved this problem by purchasing a dental plan (not insurance, but a discount plan). The plan costs me around $100/year, but saves me more than that with just two routine visits a year. And if I require any other dental services, I'll save even more. You might want to look into something like this and see if it will save you money.
It's also worth asking for a discount. When I retired from active duty and no longer had dental insurance, our pediatric dentist's insurance clerk shouted "Woo-hoo!" and discounted our visit by 20%. Apparently they place a high value on cash in hand now vs negotiated insurance payment later.

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I've been exposed to enough dental X-ray (although they all swear that they are safe) that I think I'll give the nuc submariners on board a run for the most like to glow in the dark prize.
I looked at dental insurance but the 3 year before period before they'd cover anything major like root canals or implans made me think why bother.
"Safe"? Is that why everything is sheathed in lead and they leave the room before they start?

I guess "safe" is considered equivalent to "not definitively proven dangerous... at least not by you".

I have 313 mrem lifetime documented exposure to ionizing radiation from nuclear propulsion plants. (Note that's "documented", not actual, and for some reason we neglected to document the exposure to the nuclear warheads on POSIEDON ICBMs and TOMAHAWK missiles.) I don't remember the sievert conversion factor but dental x-rays used to be about 10 mrem.

Today's submarine nuclear plants are much cleaner. Hopefully the same advances have been made in dental x-rays.
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Old 11-23-2011, 10:40 AM   #26
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I have 313 mrem lifetime documented exposure to ionizing radiation from nuclear propulsion plants. (Note that's "documented", not actual, and for some reason we neglected to document the exposure to the nuclear warheads on POSIEDON ICBMs and TOMAHAWK missiles.) I don't remember the sievert conversion factor but dental x-rays used to be about 10 mrem.

Today's submarine nuclear plants are much cleaner. Hopefully the same advances have been made in dental x-rays.
I was curious once and looked up the one used at my dentist office.
At the setting they use it it's about 0.3 mrem per bitewing.
I typically get 6 of these once a year so 1.8 mrem.

313 mrem? That's less than some of CT-Scans or X-rays:
ANS / Public Information / Resources / Radiation Dose Chart
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Old 11-23-2011, 11:24 AM   #27
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Whoa, I just had a cleaning and x-rays and it was over $200. Maybe I should do a poll to see what everyone is paying.
They said that was their "coupon rate". I asked for a coupon so that I could give it to my son and they said, there is no coupon, just have him tell us that he doesn't have insurance and to use the coupon rate.

OTOH, when we go in and have insurance the prices are different -

Cleaning - Billed at $91 Negotiated rate of $51
Exam - Billed at $42 Negotiated rate of $25
X-rays (4 Bitewing) Billed at $48 Negotiated rate of $32

Total billed = $181
Total paid by insurance = $108

With or without insurance I find this dental practice to be a good value. My dentist is excellent, I've been very pleased with everything I've had done. On my last Cerec crown I told him my insurance covered only 25% of major restorative and he gave me a reduced price.

His best talent is that he has a cheek gripping/shaking technique to give the novacaine shot where you don't feel the needle, which is the worst part for me.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:08 PM   #28
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Down here it really wouldn't be unreasonable at all to live on $20K/year, with a paid off home and with even maybe $6K/year for unexpected large expenses.
Well, you're right, a couple living on $20k would be quite an accomplishment in our area. Actually, living on $20k/yr with $6k of that available for unexpected large expenses just doesn't sound possible up here. Our medical insurance alone is over $10k. Deductible and co-pays added about $2k to that this year. Real estate taxes on our modest (1400 sq ft) home are $5k. Home and auto insurance run $2k. There's $19k and we haven't even been to the dentist, purchased any food or clothing, spent a penny on vacations or entertainment, done any home maintenance, paid our utility bills, handled any car repairs or maintenance, bought a gift for the grandkids at Xmas, etc., etc.

Nope, can't do it. High dental bills would be a real problem for us if we were living on $20k. You've got a lot going for you in New Orleans if you can lead a normal life living in your own home, paying your own medical insurance and bills, etc. and still have $6k for unexpected large expenses such as dental bills all on an annual income of $20k.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:23 PM   #29
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You've got a lot going for you in New Orleans if you can lead a normal life living in your own home, paying your own medical insurance and bills, etc. and still have $6k for unexpected large expenses such as dental bills all on an annual income of $20k.
There's definitely one reason (among many) why we live here! There are lots of retirees who live on nothing more than SS/Medicare in places like this, so if you have more than that as a retiree you are a high roller, relatively speaking.

Many other places like Springfield are even cheaper to live in than New Orleans, and that is one reason why we were/are so interested in possibly moving to Springfield some day. Some other people would prefer to spend more in order to live in more popular and interesting places than Springfield, but that's a (perfectly valid) choice, not a necessity.
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Old 11-23-2011, 03:16 PM   #30
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There's definitely one reason (among many) why we live here! There are lots of retirees who live on nothing more than SS/Medicare in places like this, so if you have more than that as a retiree you are a high roller, relatively speaking.

Many other places like Springfield are even cheaper to live in than New Orleans, and that is one reason why we were/are so interested in possibly moving to Springfield some day. Some other people would prefer to spend more in order to live in more popular and interesting places than Springfield, but that's a (perfectly valid) choice, not a necessity.
W2R- I have lived near Springfield before, and actually completed my Masters there at Mo State (SMS) It is a lower cost of living location area, but its still not free. Im sure many people live on less than 20k there, but the question is do they have their teeth still? As Im sure you know, Hillbilly country isnt that far away from Springfield
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Old 11-23-2011, 04:12 PM   #31
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I was surprised (and not in a good way) after I RE at how much more routine dental costs were without dental insurance. Basic services were costing me about 50% more since I was no longer receiving a negotiated rate..
Thank you. I had not considered this. I can buy into a dental insurance policy after I retire (100% paid by me!) but I was not going to do so. Now that I have given some thought to losing the negotiated rates, I think I will do so.
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Old 11-23-2011, 06:14 PM   #32
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"
I have 313 mrem lifetime documented exposure to ionizing radiation from nuclear propulsion plants. (Note that's "documented", not actual, and for some reason we neglected to document the exposure to the nuclear warheads on POSIEDON ICBMs and TOMAHAWK missiles.) I don't remember the sievert conversion factor but dental x-rays used to be about 10 mrem.

Today's submarine nuclear plants are much cleaner. Hopefully the same advances have been made in dental x-rays.
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I was curious once and looked up the one used at my dentist office.
At the setting they use it it's about 0.3 mrem per bitewing.
I typically get 6 of these once a year so 1.8 mrem.

313 mrem? That's less than some of CT-Scans or X-rays:
ANS / Public Information / Resources / Radiation Dose Chart
I was thinking the figure was near 10 Mrem in which case my more or less monthly dental Xray for the last couple of years would have given me 240 Mrems. However I bet Sailor is right and the new X-ray give a much smaller dose so I should be fine.
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Old 11-23-2011, 09:18 PM   #33
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........It's also worth asking for a discount. When I retired from active duty and no longer had dental insurance, our pediatric dentist's insurance clerk shouted "Woo-hoo!" and discounted our visit by 20%. ....
A few years ago my wife broke her leg and even though we had insurance, the hospital bill was substantial (the deductible). I guess the hospital was keen for cash flow because they offered a 20% discount for prompt payment so i put it on my credit card and got the 20% plus the reward from the credit card company.

So now for almost all such bills I call and ask if they offer an additional discount for immediate payment and get a substantial discount every time.

I had a similar think happen with my propane pre-buy this year. They had quoted me a price and I called to place the order and asked "Can you do any better than that?" fully expecting the person would say no. Instead, she went away for a half a minute and came back and offered me an additional 30 cents off per gallon.

Ask and yee shall receive I guess
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:51 AM   #34
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My dental expense is gonna be a whopper this year. I've decided to not have insurance, pay for it, then reimburse myself each year out of my HSA.

I look at my HSA contributions and withdrawals as shuffling the money around (legally, with proper records, of course) each year and taking advantage of the tax benefits now.

No way would I be able to afford the dental expenses without the HSA.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:11 AM   #35
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Shop around for dentist prices - they vary a lot & as usual, no correlation to value.
Dental Care at Discount Rates - NYTimes.com
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:54 AM   #36
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A few years ago my wife broke her leg and even though we had insurance, the hospital bill was substantial (the deductible). I guess the hospital was keen for cash flow because they offered a 20% discount for prompt payment so i put it on my credit card and got the 20% plus the reward from the credit card company.

So now for almost all such bills I call and ask if they offer an additional discount for immediate payment and get a substantial discount every time.

Ask and yee shall receive I guess
Earlier this year I had a test in an outpatient facility at a hospital. When I registered they told me that they offered a 30% discount if I paid up front. We didn't know how much would be applied to deductible and how much the negotiated rates would be so she put a note in my file and the 30% discount was still good through my first billing statement. The 30% only applied to the procedure, not the radiology or the pathology but it still was a nice chunk of a discount.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:02 PM   #37
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My mouth has two new crowns, both in the past month. Just part of becoming vintage, I guess. The pain and discomfort was more financial than physical. I am fortunate, though, to have a very good dentist, she charges reasonable prices, and she gives me a cash discount to boot.
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Old 11-25-2011, 07:23 PM   #38
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I was doing a craft show earlier this month and ran into a woman who teaches at a dental school by us. She told me that the students are always looking for clients to work on and everything (cleanings to xrays to crowns) are only $20 a visit!
My bf and I will be doing that in the next couple of weeks....will let you know how it works out
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Old 11-25-2011, 07:46 PM   #39
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For basic cleaning and xray, I've noticed an increase of specials by local dentists via Groupon and Living Social. This weekend, I saw one for $59 for cleaning, xrays, and fluoride treatment.

For any major tratment, I would actually consider dental tourism in costa rica, philippines, or somewhere you might consider for a vacation. I had a cleaning in Manila for $10 last year. I would do more research for crowns, etc.

Google "dental tourism" and insert a foreign country see if there are any results. A crown in Manila was $200. We ran short on time, so we didn't do it. I asked since DW had 3 suggested for future consideration. In the US with insurance we are looking at $1500 out of pocket with 50% insurance.
I typically pay $10.00 for a filling and $120.00 for a crown. I always go to a private hospital ( I belong to) as the prices are the same, I am guaranteed the safety standards are better than a Dentists office and god forbid there is a problem the emergency room is two floors down!

I have a friend that tells me implants are $2000 a pop and take about a year. He recently paid $2400 for another one (last week) as it was necessary to put in artificial jaw bone in the area as it was to thin to bond properly with the titanium implant.
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:40 PM   #40
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I typically pay $10.00 for a filling and $120.00 for a crown. I always go to a private hospital ( I belong to) as the prices are the same, I am guaranteed the safety standards are better than a Dentists office and god forbid there is a problem the emergency room is two floors down!

I have a friend that tells me implants are $2000 a pop and take about a year. He recently paid $2400 for another one (last week) as it was necessary to put in artificial jaw bone in the area as it was to thin to bond properly with the titanium implant.
As improbable as it sounds you never no, a person I knew went in just to get a tooth pulled, an infection occurred and next thing you know he is completing a 5 day hospital stay a few months ago. Of course this did no good in my need to get mine pulled as I have put it off 2 months. But I have come to the conclusion the problem is not going away and I manned up and set appointment for next friday. I have read thankfully that upper wisdom teeth arent as likely to get dry rot or infection as lower ones do. I think I am going to keep a toothbrush and floss pick in my mouth every waking hour after reading some of these dental posts. I dont think mentally I could handle these that have been written.
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