I do not carry dental insurance. I never have and never plan to. My teeth are in great shape. Back in the dot-com days, I got one small cavity after going through a full tin of Altoids every day for over a year. Yeah, I was a sick puppy. That is the only dental issue I’ve ever had.
I don’t ever expect to get another cavity, so I don’t feel like I need to purchase dental insurance to cover twice a year cleanings. Cleanings are known. I like what Jim said about insurance in the comments of Healthcare and Price Discovery.
insurance is supposed to cover you in case of catastrophic loss. Current insurance pays common expenses.
My west coast experience is that dentists have tripled the price of teeth cleaning in the past decade. They figured out that they can jack the prices up if they use an insurance company as a middle man. The patient doesn’t see or care what the price is. That is unless they pay cash like me.
When I used a dentist in Bellevue, they wanted $190 to do teeth cleaning. The madness doesn’t end there. I have not found a dentist in America that will clean your teeth without charging for X-Rays and a consultation. Not just the first visit, but annually. I don’t need X-Rays and certainly don’t need a consultation where you try to upsell me on nonsense such as sealants. Humans had healthy choppers for 2.5 million years and now we suddenly need sealants? How about we put down the bagels and Gummy Bears. Problem solved. Weston Price showed us the link between processed carbohydrates and poor dental health in 1939!
I didn’t blog about this, but when I switched to a Lake Union dentist last year, I had a blowup. They quoted me $130 on the phone for teeth cleaning. After I got out of the chair, they asked for over $300. I was livid. They explained to me that they did a special cleaning. I blew a fuse and accused them of fraud. They backed down and charged me the normal price for the special cleaning. Going to the dentist should not be a battle for cash-paying customers.
Most people dread going to the dentist because of the pain. I do because they are crooks. Clean my teeth at a fair price and leave me alone. Don’t rip me off because I pay cash. Last month I was due for a teeth cleaning and I knew they would force me to get my annual X-Rays or I wouldn’t get a cleaning. Then a brilliant idea popped into my head.
I would get my teeth cleaned while in Thailand.
While in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I found 3 dentists within a few blocks of each other. The price of a teeth cleaning was between 550-700 baht or $16.55 – $21.06! Nobody wants to get hepatitis in a third world country, so I toured one facility. They walked me through all their sterilization procedures. It was every bit as professional as an American dentist’s office. I got a same-day appointment. No X-Rays, no asking for insurance, and no up selling sealants. My teeth cleaning was thorough and professional.
I thought my $20 teeth cleaning was amazing until I met a woman a few days ago. After hearing my story, she told me her brother got a root canal done in Peru for $20. He is an American. A quick search tells me that a root canal can cost between $400 to $1000 depending on the tooth. You can fly round trip to Lima, Peru now for $450 (American Airlines on Feb 28). The math seems clear to me. See Machu Picchu or make the next payment on your dentist’s sports car?
Photo Machu Picchu by dachalan