Living Below Your Means
I Hate to be Pressured to Buy

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By FoolYap
April 28, 2006

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Rant warning. I'm going to find a new dentist.

Actually, I already have a new dentist; the old one retired, and the new one's bought out his office. I went this morning for the first time to the "under new management" office, for a routine cleaning.

DW went a few weeks ago, also for the first time to the new guy. What they did to her burned me at that time: The technician said, "We're going to 'give you' a tube of toothpaste", saying that it was wonderful, extra-strength, tartar-reducing, etc, etc.

If someone said, "give you" at a dentist's or doctor's office, what would you assume? Free sample, right?

No, as she was checking out at the front desk, they said, "And that'll be $15 for the toothpaste."

I don't care if it's the all-singing, all-dancing toothpaste of the toothpaste world. For $15 for a two-ounce tube, I'd better have a smile that can spotlight deer at night from a mile away, and cause women's clothing to vaporize.

So I was wondering if I was going to get the toothpaste pitch. The technician used a plastic probe to check my gums for signs of infection. New management, first time I've had this done, so no problem, sounds okay. As she's doing it, and calling out the numbers, 1 is excellent, 5 or higher is potentially trouble, I'm hearing 1, 3, 2, 2, 3, 3, 1, 4 (oops), 3...

...And I start to get the sales pitch. We have a new toothbrush, well, we don't call it a toothbrush, it's a "dental care solution", that you can only get through your dentist, and you can use it to apply fluoride and medication below the gums, it's all-singing, all-dancing...

When I finally didn't have fingers or dental picks in my mouth, I said politely, "No thanks."

Do you floss now? "No, and I know that I should." Then you really should get this, it's much, much better. "No thanks."

I explained that I have a hard enough time forming a habit around something like flossing. I know myself well enough to know for certain that if I start using something like this, I'll drop it as soon as it wears out. I'd prefer to buy floss and try to be more rigorous about it. I used to floss. I do rinse with Listerine before every brushing, and I know I can make a habit of it again.

Not to mention, I also prefer not to be pressured to buy something I know nothing about. I now know (from some Googling) that the "Rota-dent" is an electric toothbrush, that it likely costs over $100, that there are many electric toothbrushes out there, that they perform "about as well" as any other, that others are cheaper, that I can buy them anywhere not just from my dentist, that the evidence for these things removing plaque is good, but that there may be some evidence of them damaging gum tissue as well. (I'm unwilling to shell out $39 to buy the studies that I can read only the summary of online for free.)

I also know that trends come & go. Twenty years ago the big thing was sealing kids' molars with "impervious" plastic. "No more cavities, hurray!" Now they don't do it, because apparently the plastic isn't impervious after all. So, color me suspicious of these kinds of bandwagons.

Since I am diabetic, which they know, I was then given a hard sell about links between gum disease and heart trouble (from Googling, that's questionable at best). "You want to be around for your children, don't you?"

I probably should've walked out at that. I don't respond well at all to that kind of thing. The last sales guy who pulled one of those on me, I threw out of my house. But I wasn't in my house this time. Darn.

The kicker came for me when he then checked the technician's measurements. "Oh no, that's not a 4, that's a 6. 6. 6." So he recommended I get an appointment with a periodontist he recommended, who "maybe will just need to do a deep-cleaning, but maybe will recommend surgery." Did I mention that this is the same dentist who DW says didn't even bother to check the technician's work on her, saying, "Oh no, she looks fine" from a glance into her mouth? Why do I think I'm getting the "special didn't-buy-the-toothbrush" treatment?


I'm going to buy some floss. Have been meaning to.

Then I'm going to see if I can make an appointment with a different periodontist to get an opinion on my gums. If I need treatment, I want to hear from someone not affiliated with this guy.

Then I'm going to find a different dentist.


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