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Author:  fauxfrancais [ Fri May 10, 2013 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Orthodontics---

So I'm one of those few lucky people who have braces on for nearly a decade and into their 20's. I have a condition so it figures, but my insurance lapsed leaving me with braces I couldn't pay for and which my parents at 19 were either unable or unwilling to help with. I was seeing the same orthodontist out of pocket for about a year and a half when I couldn't keep my head above water financially (and at the time I was living at home, so it was not absolutely dire in all regards).

I started looking for someone new this year when I found a prosthedontist knowledgable about genetic conditions and such, and found someone with experience with genetics patients. However, he was only the last of all the doctors I would have to see, and so he recommended me to a surgeon, who then recommended me to the doctor she knows with the cheapest rates. I set up an appointment, and trekked to the Bronx from downtown Manhattan to be seen.

First, she tells me the exact opposite of everything my last orthodontist told me; I was told I would need surgery. She says no. All my life I was told how it would be, but she was very insistent on being able to give me a 'pretty smile' which was no doubt what I wanted, but I was also confused by her response to my question about my jaw and its disproportionate and slightly off-center alignment. Nope. She thinks it can be fixed with braces. Well, that's a nice thing to say, but considering I've been in braces on and off for nearly a decade, I have my reservations.

Then, I come back for a follow up appointment and I'm getting impressions and xrays. I've had these done a thousand times. It's not unusual. They test the fit of an empty tray, then fill that tray, and then they get your sensitive teeth cold with this epoxy/rubber whatever mix, then pull out. Since I have braces, every time, the pull has to be a bit more calculated and forceful. This time, I had an aid who didn't want to wear gloves, and she stuck her hand without a glove into my mouth. It's not the worst, but I guess I have high standards? I dunno. She started to remove the thing and gets some of the epoxy on her hands, and rubs it all over the chair beside me. Did I mention this was all happening in a room without a door, looking onto the other patients? I don't ask alot but I do like privacy when I go do these sorts of things. Maybe it's my self-consciousness about my smile at my age, but I dislike being open to everyone.

Then I went into the room and she didn't even change the wire I had had in my mouth for months. I was paying to have her slide my wire back in and change my colors (does anyone miss their bright colors? I had them just a few times--- I miss being able to have crazy colors!). $350 for impressions and seriously less than 10 minutes to slip an old wire back in place (which she didn't install herself, either--- this was from my previous attempt at orthodontic care at a clinic at UPenn).

I went in today and again, people were just doing things without any covering (although there were gloves on the people right as they were working in someone's mouth this time) but a glove was dropped on the floor and they just put it back in the box like it was nothing! That glove goes in someone's MOUTH! Jesus.

My boyfriend says if I don't feel comfortable with mine anymore, I should just change orthodontists. I agree. But it isn't that easy to find someone that is knowledgeable of my condition (which she sort of is) and aware of the ramifications of not taking care of the jaw as much as the teeth. Today she also scolded someone and got kinda arrogant with a kid who was kinda trying to justify his brace wire being out of place, but she said "okay well I'm a doctor, so maybe I know more", in a tone. Not a huge deal but it made me uncomfortable.

She's nice, but I don't know. The discussion with her just didn't seem... I dunno, thorough? The things I would say about my jaw, my teeth, my attempts, etc. didn't really seem to be open for discussion; she seemed adamant that her answers were correct. Maybe she's right. She's from my Alma Matter, a somewhat recent grad, so maybe things are being taught differently now than when my previous orthodontist (the one who installed my braces at 14) was in school. He was much older and his first response was a palate expander that my mom gave up on soon into my having it, and then he was pushed to do the surgery because that hadn't worked.

I'm just really really confused you guys. I have no one to vent to right at this moment and I started to cry before my hour long trip home because I just don't have a clue what to do and I'm honestly most afraid of wasting my money and time and not having a nice smile by the time I am supposed to be starting my professional career. I want to be able to smile and feel sure of myself before I graduate in less than a year.

I also came here to ask a question. They're charging me $5000 to come to them with braces already installed and just 'replace the wire (my appointments), and install anything that might break as it goes/breaks'. Okay. But a HUGE part of that cost should actually be the braces, and that's what I tried to find out today; what does that mean when I already have them? I'm definitely not going to pay more than I need to (and kill myself in the process). I'm lucky now that it's not such an issue but what about the future? I have tuition to pay for. My insurance won't cover it at all, despite it being a genetic condition with health implications. If and when you purchased braces, how much did it cost? If you went elsewhere with those braces, did they charge you to start from scratch?

Thanks guys. I really appreciate it if you read it.

Author:  couroupita [ Fri May 10, 2013 2:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Orthodontics---

Gosh. That sounds pretty hinky to me. I think you should steer clear of that dr. The unhygienic practices, ignoring your concerns, it all sounds like bad news. As someone who had orthodontia for most of my childhood and teenage years and who is still dealing with issues into my late 20s, I know teeth and jaw issues are something you don't mess around with. It's a pain in the butt but find someone else. You don't want to waste money, time, and most importantly your health.

ETA: I'm sorry, I don't know anything about the cost of switching drs if you already have braces in place. I stayed with the same person. But $5k seems like a lot.

Can you maybe find a message board or something with peoe who have similar dental issues as you? And maybe try to look up drs on yelp or something? That's how I figured out everything about my tmj issues and also found a good dr. Are you in school right now? Maybe ask someone at your university's student health center for a referral.

ETA #2: how much research have you done on your own about your condition? I think you shouldn't just rely on the opinion of two drs. Maybe look into what others in your situation have done. Jaw surgery is a really big deal. It sounds like this dr is just saying orthodontia to realign your bite/jawline. But if your misaligned jaw is because of issues with the jawbone or joints you will need surgery...

Author:  Butternut [ Fri May 10, 2013 3:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Orthodontics---

As someone who grew up somewhere else in the US and moved to NYC, I have found that there are VERY sketchy doctors to be found in NYC. Especially with my crepe insurance, so I can't even imagine paying out of pocket.

Since this is so expensive and important, why not get a second opinion at least?

Also, you mention tuition...some schools offer reasonable dental plans when you are a student. I got my masters at NYU. The student dental plan was great, as was the insurance. Maybe your school has something like this? If you are not in school yet, maybe wait until you do.

Author:  torque [ Fri May 10, 2013 3:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Orthodontics---

this sounds like a huge alarm bell. def get another opinion. there are all sorts of sketchy clinics, thanks to medicaid and other programs, and it may be just me but i do not anyone i do not trust 100% touching my body or doing things that can cause me pain.
it's only my opinion but i would keep researching and keep looking; maybe even at a student clinic type thing; maybe writing a letter to the dental school and seeing if they have a suggestion or would consider a charity case. don't give up; good luck!

Author:  kimba [ Fri May 10, 2013 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Orthodontics---

You might want to check out orthodontic residency programs. They are not cheap (though shouldn't be more expensive than most practices), but there should be faculty members who are knowledgeable about a variety of genetic conditions. Here you can search for accredited programs by state and type of program:

Author:  fauxfrancais [ Sat May 11, 2013 5:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Orthodontics---

Butternut; I am an NYU student for another semester! I have the basic insurance not including dental. My former surgeon's office said they'd accept the NYU insurance but the problem would be with filing for approval for the surgery, if it would be covered. I should check into it again.

Did I add that when I went to my former ortho, I was a difficult patient? I was in my angsty stage so I didn't like going and even worse, didn't like going alone so I'd sometimes miss appointments or postpone, and eventually my insurance lapsed and he just kind of got frustrated with waiting for me to be ready, so I had to either pay to continue or go elsewhere. Eventually my mouth was ready for surgery but I couldn't afford to pay out of pocket and then I ended up where I am. He had experience with my genetic condition, so that was my main reason for trusting him. Plus, he was actually cheaper and much closer to where I was living at the time. I debated calling back but I owe him quite a bit of money that I still can't pay off (being a student has its downs, too).

Couroupita, I went to an ortho clinic at UPenn, and at the time, nobody knew what they were doing concretely. That's okay, but in my scenario, I do feel that time is of the essence (which makes the decision to stay even more pressure) and I need to be 100% sure that they at least have seen similar patients and know what they're doing without me having to come back 20 times for the next decade for fixes and additional stuff. I am going to be in for ALOT of expenses post-op, so I am trying to minimize the cost up front to avoid paying $100,000+ for dental work on a condition I was born into and which my parents can't help me with (and haven't for many many years). My mom's thing was "Okay, I got you the appointment, now it's up to you" and as a 16 year old kid who doesn't give a damn, you don't really think about the future, and don't follow through.

I wrote to an organization for people with my disorder but they couldn't help. They were actually the ones who directed me to the clinic at UPenn, and though the doctors were nice, the feeling just didn't hit me as right and I was spending alot of money at a point just to go and get preliminary stuff done with several different doctors at a time. The last time I was scheduled to go, it was going to cost me $350 for one doctor and another $150 for the next all in the same day. Add to that $30 to get there. I am a broke student who can't even afford her own textbooks.

I still feel in the dumps about it guys. I went on a job interview recently where before I was interviewed they were discussing a situation with one of the manager's friend's kids who saw a prostitute or something, and then they said "i know she was a prostitute because of her teeth, they always have messed up teeth"... I felt a little self-conscious after but kinda also felt like, 'well, there goes my impression of this place.'

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