Today my daughter had her first appointment with the orthodontist. Today’s appointment was just a consultation to take pictures and x-rays and measurements, discuss the treatment plan, and talk about the cost. We knew it would be pricey. My daughter had extreme difficulty losing her baby teeth and had to have three of them pulled last year because the adult teeth were not pushing them out of the way. Her upper canines for example had actually formed a third row of teeth above the rest of the teeth and the baby canines were barely even loose.
We have always had dental insurance through my husband’s job, but when I got my new job last year I signed up the kids under my dental plan as well. I figured they were getting to be teenagers so it wouldn’t hurt to have a little extra cushion. It came in pretty handy when the girl had her teeth extracted because we only had to pay $40 out-of-pocket. In anticipation of the girl’s orthodontics, I also signed up for my company’s flex plan this year. I never had braces myself but knew they would be pricey so I wanted to be prepared. Good thing I did. Here’s a summary of our meeting with the orthodontist:
Dr: Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Dr Fleece.
Me: Hi Dr Fleece. I’m Mrs About-to-Be-Flat-Broke. What’s the deal with my kid’s teeth?
Dr Fleece: Your daughter has a moderately severe overbite, her lower teeth are off center, and of course as you know her canines are still too high on her gums. The teeth on her lower jaw are a little crowded too.
Also she needs to have 4 more teeth pulled before we can even start with the orthodontics.
Me: Wow. Ok, so how do we fix all that?
Dr Fleece: She’ll have braces for about two years, and we’ll have to give her a bionic jaw* for the first year or so. After that she’ll have a retainer for a while.
Me: I see. How much will it cost?
Dr Fleece: Well, we break it down into monthly payments for the period your daughter will be wearing the stuff. So for the next two years you’ll be paying us a little bit more than your car payment every month.
Me: Holy moley! Good thing we have two insurances! That should take care of most of those payments right?
Dr Fleece: Oh no, that payment is AFTER your insurance has been applied. Without insurance you’d be paying about twice that much.
Daughter: If I accidentally throw away my retainer, will I have to go dumpster diving?
Me: Hell yes. I’m not paying to park a car in your mouth for the next two years so you can lose your retainer and let your teeth get all messed up again. Also, you’d bloody well better be religious about keeping your teeth clean while you have those braces. I’m not buying you a car just so you can park it on the street and let it rust.
Daughter: But I’m not even old enough to drive yet!
Me: That should give you plenty of free time for brushing your teeth then.
Dr Fleece: Well thanks for coming in, I look forward to seeing you again! You can surrender your wallet to the receptionist on the way out; you won’t be needing it for the next two years.
And as if that wasn’t enough to be excited about, when I got home I found out my student loan deferment period has ended, and my first payment will be due in May.
On a related note, I wonder how hard it would be to find a buyer for one of my kidneys? I guess I don’t really need them both. I’m kidding of course.**
*It’s not really a bionic jaw obviously. They’re giving her this thing called a Herbst appliance (click the link above to see a video of how it works) which corrects the overbite by pulling the lower jaw forward with tiny hydraulic hinges. It would be kind of cool if it didn’t also look incredibly painful. The device is apparently cemented to the teeth and poked into the gums to hold it in place. The technician said we should stock up on pudding, ice cream, and applesauce because that’s all the girl will be able to eat for the first few days. Poor kid.
** Or am I? Make me an offer.