Monday, April 4, 2016

Navigating Dental in A World Ruled By Insurance Coverage

Dental health is critical to overall health. Last year I lost a friend due to malnutrition and infection that started in his teeth and eventually shut his organs down. Without teeth to start breaking down food, a terrible, painful domino effect of health consequences begins.

Several years ago I was given an impossible estimate: almost $6000 in dental work needed including a fancy laser cleaning and two crowns. I despaired then shrugged, I didn't have that kind of money and it wasn't possible to raise considering my contracts. Somewhere I heard a rumor about dental schools, desperate for hope I did a Google search.


A.Z. Still University Dental Clinic in Mesa was nearby and had a webpage talking about reduced cost and intake process.
Basically, you call and they schedule you for screening. They talk about how dental work happens at the school, do x rays, and schedule the two part intake process for $69. The first appointment is a thorough exam and casting of your teeth. The second appointment is the review of the treatment plan and scheduling follow up work. I remember hearing that I only needed a deep cleaning, two fillings and two sealants which totaled about $650. Way less in cost and in work: I didn't need anything the commercial chain dental place said I needed! They had lured me in with a $29 exam only to recommend unnecessary costly procedures!

The dental school had dentists and hygienists reviewing the students plans, observations, and work at each step. The work took longer and went slower, but each step had at least two to three people looking and critically observing it. The big thing: time! Call well ahead. If you need a lot of work be prepared to either adjust your schedule or to be available for theirs. It is excellent to learn you can get all your dental addressed free or at a drastically low rate if it "qualifies" a graduate but that's only certain months depending on the program and their pricing.  It could take one to three months for the work to get completed if you have a lot of work needed!

Today, Danny did his first screening appointment making the students and instructors laugh as they took him through each part of the exam. They consider income in the plans and do their best to try to offer patients who have "qualifying" dental issues to have free work done if a student can use their mouth to test out on. If I could have been in Mesa in May two years ago then my deep cleaning would have been free: my dental work would have only cost $250 as the deep cleaning ran about $400. They are looking at doing part of Danny's cleaning for free as part of a student's graduating exam. There may be other work that qualifies as well, sometimes fillings between teeth and other procedures can be available this way. 
This winter I plan to go back and have everything checked again.
I also learned from Still University that Carrington Colleges all have dental clinics that offer free cleanings. Do you know where your nearest dental school is, which one it is, and what services they offer? Help a future dentist get real world practice and see a dentist for work you can afford!