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The only thing I didnt think about preparing for my retirement.... My Teeth!
Old 11-22-2011, 01:06 PM   #1
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The only thing I didnt think about preparing for my retirement.... My Teeth!

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. Always having my 2 yearly cleanings and paying no money for these, along with good teeth, I didnt put much thought into potential costs. But I started reading some various sites, and I am stunned at the potential problems and the costs you can have with dental expenses. Maybe I should plan a reserve budget for future dental expenses, above the amount I reserve for home maintenance expenses! Has anyone else been surprised with dental costs? It appears dental insurance isnt really worth it.
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:22 PM   #2
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Dental costs can be very expensive. The routine stuff -- cleaning and the occasional cavity -- is not that bad. Root canals and crowns are expensive. I've found that dental insurance (which we have) does help for those. Still dental insurance tends to have annual maximums that are not that high. I needed a lot of dental work late last year so I spaced it over two years. Of course, if you lose a tooth and need an implant to need dentures then the costs can be extremely high.

Some of it just depends on your teeth. DH has great teeth. He hardly ever goes to the dentist (I'm talking once every 10 years whether he needs it or not). So his dental costs are almost non-existent.

Me? I have a dental appointment this afternoon and dread it. My teeth build up plaque like crazy. I brush, I floss, I water-pik and my teeth always look to the dentist like I don't do any of that. I get cavities at the drop of a hat and have lots of crowns. I have the teeth you would expect someone to have like my husband -- someone who brushes and that's all. Yet, I spend way more time on my teeth than he does and it seems to be to no avail at times. Very annoying. I tend to exceed our dental coverage every year while he doesn't use it hardly at all. Sigh.
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:31 PM   #3
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My Medicare Advantage plan covers regular cleanings and an annual Xray, I think it's called a bite wing. Basic stuff. Better than nothing but I miss not being covered like we were under employer health plan. There are a lot of plans out there on the internet and I get mailings all the time. I think that when something goes really wrong, I'll have them all pulled and get dentures. That isn't cheap either. Golf friend of mine had that done a few years ago, top notch job, $9K. I said to him, "man, I'm thinking more like three grand". He smiled really big so I could see and said "not for these babies". Maybe I'll pull a George Washington and start carving my own.
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:57 PM   #4
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Kat and Johnnie, if I get any more positive replies like that, I will feel compelled to keep a toothbrush in my mouth all day long. I still will have 2 wisdom teeth left, so I consider myself plus 2 still. But the thought of getting any of the other ones pulled or root canaled is something I dont want to consider. Maybe Ive lived a sheltered life, but terms root canal, pulled tooth, implants, posts, bridges, dentures quit frankly scare the hell out me and my wallet, too.
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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You may want to check your health insurance, it may cover items such as root canals and periodontal surgery - mine does. For years my company dental insurance cost me nothing but only covered most things 50%, so I knew the costs of crowns etc. Once ER'ed we chose not to have dental insurance for all the reasons mentioned in other threads. In the last few years before RE I pressed ahead and got crowns on those teeth that had many and/or deep fillings. It has now been over 2 years that I have needed any treatment, other than cleanings.
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:29 PM   #6
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There is also a national dental insurance you can get, although I don't know of any at this point. When I was young and worked for a store with no health benefits, I bought one of these coverage which knocked off percentages of treatment fees. I now have a dentail insurance, but I still pay a lot out of pocket.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:54 PM   #7
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I agree that dental costs are not something I ever factored into my retirement budget. I've been shocked at what it has cost me just in the last three years. If I could find the right dental insurance, I would buy it. So far, the ones I've looked at are not very impressive. Crowns around here run in excess of $1000 with no root canal. If root canal is required, add another $1500. After my DW's car accident, she discovered that two teeth had been damaged with the impact. One required removal and an implant/crown which is still in process. So far it has cost over $4000, and she hasn't even started the crown work yet! The second tooth took a crown. We're holding our breathe that that root doesn't fail also.

If anyone has insurance suggestions, I'm all ears. I'm on Medicare, but DW wife is seven years away from Medicare.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:03 PM   #8
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Because my teeth have always been bad, I consider crowns and root canals to be a big part of the "unexpected irregular expenses" part of my budget. They join the unexpected cratering of a big screen plasma TV, or of an expensive laptop computer, unexpected huge plumbing or roofing expenses, unusually large car repairs, and so on.

During the years before my retirement I figured out how much I spent on such things, on average. This sort of thing amounts to almost as much as my regular, expected expenses. But this is on average. Some years - - nothing, so I put that money aside. Other years are worse.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:04 PM   #9
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I had no problems with my teeth for 20+ years and see the dentist quarterly for a cleaning and checkup. The past 2 years there as been a root canal and crown, another crown. This year I had to have a first molar removed and had a dental implant done. The cost for just the one implant is in the 3-4k range. My dental insurance does not cover the implant but will cover the crown and the extraction. It also covered the root canals.

I don't have much of a choice as my wisdom teeth grew up under my second molars and they had to take all 8 teeth out when I was a teenager. I need every tooth that I have left.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:07 PM   #10
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In 2007, right after I retired DW and I moved to Fla and went for our dental checkups. 13K later we were done, I was pissed but what can you do.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:08 PM   #11
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From time to time here on the Fire Forum, we discuss low ball retirement budgets. I'm always jaw-droppingly flabbergasted when folks suggest they could get by on less than $20k/yr (sometimes significantly less) for a lengthly retirement.

I've thought about the "gotcha's" that could put a low ball plan in jeopardy and unplanned dental expenses is on that list. There's a reason most posters here are always pointing to the generous "cushion" they've built in. And unexpected, expensive dental would sure be a good place to spend those "cushion" dollars.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:44 PM   #12
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Our retiree medical insurance has an option for dental insurance. It's 16.98/mo for each of us. For me it's worked out to covering 2 cleanings and exams a year and x-rays once a year. Then I broke a molar (same week that the furnace died!) that had a large filling in it and I got a Cerac crown. The cost of the insurance is a little more than the cost of the cleanings and exams plus the x-rays. So having a claim (paid at only 25% after $50 deductible) means that this year it was worth it to have the insurance.

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. So being insured means that I've prepaid for the periodic stuff and a little bit more for the "just in case" stuff. DH and are are both 56 and have had a tooth break or had to have a filling replaced. For now the insurance seems like a good idea.

We get the low option for dental, there is also a high option that costs $28.24/mo each that has better coverage for things beyond cleaning and exam and x-rays.
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Old 11-22-2011, 05:28 PM   #13
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We'll probably set aside a few hundred a year on top of the $300-400 or so that cleanings, xrays and exams will be. A few hundred should cover a couple fillings or part of a major procedure. We seem to have ample dental issues but they aren't crushingly expensive (a couple hundred here and there). DW used to have more expensive issues put intensive therapy seems to have solved those problems. Dental therapy for you jokers!

We'll FIRE with kids, and they will likely be on medicaid dental or whatever our state plan for moderate income folks is. Who knows, the national health plans may cover dental by the time we FIRE.
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Old 11-22-2011, 05:47 PM   #14
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From time to time here on the Fire Forum, we discuss low ball retirement budgets. I'm always jaw-droppingly flabbergasted when folks suggest they could get by on less than $20k/yr (sometimes significantly less) for a lengthly retirement.
Well, but look where you live. Cost of living is far less in most of the country AFAIK. 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. Lots of people retire on just SS, and the average SS check is around $1000 - $1100 if my recollection is correct. That would be $12K-$13K/year.
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Old 11-22-2011, 06:16 PM   #15
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I just got back from the dentist. Now I have terrible teeth. It is just my genetics apparently.

Dental insurance is definitely worth it for us. Family dental is $39 a month. Each person gets $2000 annually in dental benefits.

Today was about $1200 for a cleaning, exam, xrays and a crown. Everything except the crown is made for 100% by insurance. Insurance pays 50% of the crown less $50 deductible. Next week I ago back for 7 (yes 7) fillings which will cost a total of about $1500, which the insurance will pay 80% of.

I still have 2 more crowns to do ($1050 each). I will do those after the first of the year so insurance will pay for half of the cost.

BTW, it isn't that I have years of dental work that I am catching up on. Last year I had 2 crowns and 2 fillings and used up about $1900 of my dental benefits. So we are definitely saving money through having the insurance.
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Old 11-22-2011, 06:20 PM   #16
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.....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. .....
$750 a year for health insurance? Wow. If I could get health insurance for $750 a month I would be happy.
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:11 PM   #17
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$750 a year for health insurance? Wow. If I could get health insurance for $750 a month I would be happy.
+1

My Health Insurance is significantly more than $750 per month. Kinda hard to work up any sympathy for a $400 dental bill!

-ERD50
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:25 PM   #18
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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.
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:32 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow
I just got back from the dentist. Now I have terrible teeth. It is just my genetics apparently.

Dental insurance is definitely worth it for us. Family dental is $39 a month. Each person gets $2000 annually in dental benefits.

Today was about $1200 for a cleaning, exam, xrays and a crown. Everything except the crown is made for 100% by insurance. Insurance pays 50% of the crown less $50 deductible. Next week I ago back for 7 (yes 7) fillings which will cost a total of about $1500, which the insurance will pay 80% of.

I still have 2 more crowns to do ($1050 each). I will do those after the first of the year so insurance will pay for half of the cost.

BTW, it isn't that I have years of dental work that I am catching up on. Last year I had 2 crowns and 2 fillings and used up about $1900 of my dental benefits. So we are definitely saving money through having the insurance.
Kat, my wallet would be beat up having to pay for that, but mentally I dont know if I could handle all those trips to the dental office. I still remember my first cavity in the 60's like it was yesterday, and its not a fond memory!
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by ERD50

+1

My Health Insurance is significantly more than $750 per month. Kinda hard to work up any sympathy for a $400 dental bill!

-ERD50
I have a 5k deductible and am still under 50. I could pay for the expense with my HSA, but I have this grand if maybe delusional idea of not spending a dime of it. Then when Im 65 I will have a war chest that will pay for my medicare tax free the rest of my life. Of course it looks like my organs will have to cooperate better than my wisdom teeth are for this plan to work.
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