Friday, October 23, 2009

I Am Nancy

Riddle me this:

There are two families in the orthodontist's office learning braces are indicated: One child is crying. The other child is gleefully picking out band colors. One mother is smiling stoically. The other is sobbing and dropping silent f-bombs.

The orthodontist was probably thinking "OK, if I could just have that child and that mother, my world would be a much better place." Alas, it is not to be.

I was as composed as Nancy Kerrigan: "Why? . . . why? . . . WHY?????"

Because Sophie's teeth look JUST FINE. Evenly sized and spaced. A teensy bit of crowding in the bottom front, but other than that FINE. But apparently only to my untrained eye. She has a "serious" bite problem that if not repaired will cause endless grief (she will wear her front teeth away) and will have crowding once more molars arrive on the scene. All the baby teeth are gone, so it's time to start the fun. At least for Sophie. She will look so grown up in braces!! And the colors!!! "TEAL and LAVENDER! No—LIME and PINK!! How about ORANGE and PURPLE???!!!" This site, which is almost as fun as the Bonanno sandal customization site, will occupy her for hours. And she finds the prospect of visiting the office, which is full of friendly people ready to raid my wallet who seem to really like kids, for the next two years a dandy idea. I'll give them snaps for reacting positively to her running in by herself in a motocross helmet announcing, as I instructed her, "I am Sophie! My mother will be here in just a minute!" 

But back to me. Do you how much this is estimated to cost me?? 

SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS

Goddamn. Do you think this is reasonable?  I am suspicious. Because let's do a little math here: The bands are changed every (I think) eight weeks. So that's six times a year, two years, divided into $6,000, and we have $500 a visit. I know, not really: There is the initial fitting, all the new-fangled plastic braces are made of these days, and the color consultation that will be required at each visit, BUT STILL. Six thousand dollars would probably pay for a full-body liposuction and Botox treatment for ME.

Should I get a second opinion? A second cost estimate? How about from one of those discount orthos advertised on television? I'm with a wise friend of mine who insists that children do not need the best of everything. The reasonable version is often completely adequate. We saved money on the medium-priced car seat and the super cheap stroller, and Sophie is very bit as healthy and fit had we bought the Britax and the Maclaren. Besides, we then had money left over for expensive ski lessons. It's all about priorities. And apparently about spending crap loads of money.

So this is what being a parent is all about. Guess I should have paid (that word: pay, paid, paying—make it stop!!) attention to the fine print.

10 comments:

Jen Yu said...

yes, second opinion. the $ you pay for that second opinion will either save you $ or just make you feel (a little) better about the expense. xxoo

KatieGirlBlue said...

Definitely second opinion. And know this: the ortho industry is not unlike canal street in its wheeling and dealing, so docs might not be adverse to patients doing the same. What if you pay cash? (You'll save them a ton of $ in cc fees, so why can't they pass those savings on to you?) What if you pay upfront?

I know I sound like a cheapskate, but we just had to buy new carpeting for our tenant apartment, and paying in cash saved us around $250.

SUCKS. But best to find out if it's a real dental health problem or a doc's crisis of vanity. If it's vanity, and it doesn't bother you or the Soph, then hell with it, no?

lisagh said...

Do you have regular dental insurance as opposed to orthodontics? A lot of dentist's nowadays are trained in orthodontics. Might be a cheaper alternative.

I wore braces and know it costs a fortune, but better to have it taken care of now than to have big angst at a later date.

Mind you NOW, now, may not be the best time. Sophie is only 9 or 10 years old, right? Maybe wait until all the adult teeth come in ... around 8th or 9th grade (when I got mine) and maybe the situation will be different.

Whatever you do... good luck!

Susan said...

I paid about 5K six years ago. I definitely would get a second opinion to make yourself feel better. Some orthos do give creative discounts. I also have had friends who put their children in braces too early, only to have work redone as their jaw grew. Here's what I promised my kids: straight teeth and a college education. After that, it's up to them!

Purple Flowers said...

I'd go for the second opinion. You'll feel better for it, knowing $6k is the norm or outside the norm for what Sophie needs. I had braces when I was 10 yrs.young, and I've thanked my parents. I remember my Mother paying in small increments each month.

jizulie said...

oh you get that second opinion! i had braces as a teenager and have had a myriad of dentists tell me that they don't recommend it like they used to. i gots all kinds of tooth problems and my parents did all the stuff you're contemplating doing to your poor girl's mouth. have faith in your gut instinct. go talk to a bunch of different dentists/orthodontists. find at least one who is on your side.

Mom on the Run said...

3 out of 4 had braces. Good thing we love our ortho--nicest man ever! With a bite problem, it's probably best to do it earlier. Josh had to have braces twice...much too long a story for here. Just normal old crooked teeth, they usually wait until all their permanent teeth come in. Jenna got braces in 9th grade and Jayne got them in 8th grade. Josh got them when he was 7, had them for two years and got them again when he was 11 and wore them for 3 more years (his mouth was a trainwreck). Honestly, I have no idea what we paid, but I'm thinking that he probably lost money on us because we still keep going back for retainers and he gives them to us for free. I think it was $3500-$4000, but we don't live in California...

I've heard of some orthos who only adjust every two months, but we saw ours every month.

Good luck. Welcome to the club. Cha-ching.

k e r r y said...

Ack. My son has straight beautiful teeth too but apparently his bite is the problem too. I wonder what braces will cost in 3 years?! Love that she's excited to get them though!!!

Brianne said...

I'd get a second opinion/estimate as well. I can only imagine what you're dealing with is something akin to the pain my mother felt when she brought me along to my sister's appointment and the orthodontist put me in a chair as a laugh and promptly told my mother that I'd have to start seeing him very soon. Mind you, I was FIVE at the time. I still had baby teeth and this guy wanted to start mucking with them. Mom and Dad were already paying for my sister's overpriced orthodontia and now he wanted to double dip?! Sheesh. I'm glad Sophie's looking on the bright side of this though. I'd listened to my sister bawl about her teeth hurting for two years, I knew exactly what was in store... Best of luck to you all! And be prepared to make lots of smoothies, they're a lifesaver.

Impoverished Preppy said...

Is everything in SF more expensive? My friend is paying about $4000 for her son's braces.