Just a warning: This is a very long story. But one that I need to get off my chest.
Yesterday was a very crappy day, because yesterday was supposed to be the day that I got an impression for my soon-to-be (or so I thought) dental crown.
I’m going to give you the back story that leads up to this because this whole thing was a living hell (and that’s an understatement).
When I was younger, I had a tooth (#10 I believe) that was congenitally missing. That means there was no tooth in that space whatsoever, so once that baby tooth fell out, that was it. The two teeth next to it sort of grew close to each other and filled in the space a bit, which I guess was a positive? At least I didn’t have a humungous gap in that space. But it’s been something that I’ve been extremely self conscious about for years. I don’t know when I first realized it or became embarrassed about it, but I probably haven’t smiled with my mouth open in photos for 15-20 years.
In September of 2011 I finally had braces put on at my dentist’s office. This is an office that specializes in everything from general dentistry to implants, extractions and orthodontics. I was so excited to finally be getting the whole process started, I didn’t care about the fact that I was in my late 20’s, nothing of that mattered. I was going to be able to SMILE again! My treatment length estimate was 18 months.
Things seemed to be going well with treatment, nothing seemed out of the norm, my progress was moving along as it should have been, apparently. In summer of 2012, after it was deemed that the space where my tooth was missing was finally opened up and the teeth around it were where they should be, I had an implant placed. I didn’t question this because I’m not an oral surgeon or an orthodontist, so I assumed everybody knew what they were doing since it was all coordinated amongst one another.
Around September of 2012, I was told that I was going to be ready to debond. I was surprised to hear this because the initial recommendation/estimate was 18 months. At this point, it had only been a year. I know things can change, but I just felt uneasy about that news. I went home, thoroughly scoped out my teeth and felt like they weren’t ready for this. I’m not an orthodontist, I don’t know how perfect my teeth are able to get, but I knew I wasn’t 100% happy about this and I knew that if I wasn’t excited about getting my braces off, it just wasn’t the right time. I told my orthodontist there were a couple spaces that needed to be closed up (not noticeable unless you were all up in my mouth, but I found them and I wanted them PERFECT), so he made a few adjustments and we pushed my debond date to a later date. Before that date, I came in again (at least one more time) to have him make another adjustment because I felt like my teeth weren’t perfectly straight. I felt like I was rushing to fix all these things that weren’t fixed because I had to get them done by the debond date. Like, that was the deadline. Because it was the date that was set and I’m just a patient who doesn’t know anything about orthodontics, I felt, well if they feel I’m ready I guess I have to be ready, what can I do? What do I know? I don’t know if the issues I’m seeing are me being nitpicky or if they’re legitimate issues that should be corrected.
The debond date arrived. I wasn’t happy about it at all. Not a wink of excitement. I may have been the only orthodontic patient in history that wasn’t excited about getting their braces off. The girls there asked me if I was excited and I told them no because I honestly felt like my teeth weren’t ready, but again, what do I know? So I went through with it. I didn’t really look at my teeth much after because I was kind of afraid – afraid that I wouldn’t be happy with what I saw. I went home and checked them out in the mirror, and what do you know, I wasn’t happy. I felt like they were jutting out more than they should have been and that could’ve been corrected a bit more, I felt my two front teeth weren’t EXACTLY straight, but the way that they’re shaped, it’s really hard to tell and nobody else could have/would have noticed that but me. I went to get a second opinion.
I actually researched orthodontists this time to find the best one and I went to him for a consultation. I told him everything that I saw that I felt could have been corrected or made better and he agreed with everything that I said – he was surprised at the things that I pointed out (because I researched a LOT after getting my braces removed) and said everything was spot on. He also mentioned that my bite wasn’t exactly where it should be. After seeing him, I decided I was going to get my money back. I felt they rushed me through all these procedures, the implant, the braces being removed, and I don’t know why. When I first talked to the office manager, I told her my story and told her that I felt they were removed too soon. She said she would speak to the orthodontist and get back to me. When she got back to me, she said that the orthodontist told her I requested they be taken off at the time that they were. I couldn’t believe it! He straight up LIED. I told her that wasn’t true and that they told me I WAS READY to have them removed. I’m a freaking patient for crap’s sake, how would I KNOW if it was the right time or not? I also said that if that WERE the case, wouldn’t they have had me sign some kind of consent or release form stating that I was requesting them to be taken off earlier than they should be? To cover their own asses? Needless to say, I got my money back, but not without signing a settlement. I looked over it and didn’t feel comfortable doing it, the wording just seemed so strong and final but money was tight, I no longer had the insurance I had before so my braces wouldn’t be covered under insurance whatsoever, it was all going to be out of pocket. I needed the money back for a down payment with my new orthodontist. I signed it and eventually received my check. I never went or looked back again.
A month or so later (December 2012/January 2013), I had braces put BACK ON again with the orthodontist who I saw during the consultation. Now, he made me feel comfortable from the start. He was a specialist in his own office – this wasn’t a one stop shop for everything. He had been in practice for ages, I read about his background and I believed that he KNEW what he was doing. The whole office staff was sympathetic to my situation, one of the girls there even used to work with the office I was at before and gave me some advice on what to do about the whole situation while I was in the process of trying to get refunded. They worked with me financially, and were very patient and understanding about everything. Later on down the road, they even sent me flowers at the hospital when I was going through a serious medical issue – that’s not something your regular orthodontist does! They are, hands down, the most generous group of individuals that I’ve ever dealt with. My treatment with him was great, I saw changes in my teeth and the fact that he’s just as anal as I am about everything being perfect made me realize he was a perfect fit. Just this past December/January, I had my braces removed and I admit, I was a bit wary but that’s only because of the incident that happened before. I didn’t feel like it wasn’t the right time, I just wanted to be SURE that it was. The braces came off and my stomach didn’t churn or cringe. I knew I was nearing the end of my journey, FINALLY! I was happy!
A few weeks ago, I had to have my crown lengthened since it had been a year and a half since it was actually placed. Yesterday, I FINALLY had an appointment with my dentist to take the impressions for my crown. I’ve been daydreaming about this day – in a week, I would have had my tooth and a smile that I’ve never seen before. Yesterday, my dentist informed me that the implant that was placed – was placed in the wrong spot. She told me that she didn’t understand why the office that placed it did it during my orthodontic treatment, when my teeth weren’t exactly in place yet. The crown would stick out much further than the rest of my front teeth, which tells me A – they were COMPLETELY off in their estimate of where the implant should have been placed, and/or B – my teeth were COMPLETELY F’D up and my ortho did an AMAZING job of bettering my overjet/bite/alignment. Either way, it SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PLACED BEFORE I was out of my braces. I immediately started crying. How could this be? After all I’ve already been through. Having to get fight to get my money back from the first office, braces TWICE in a row, this was supposed to be IT for me. This is a patient’s worst nightmare. She said in all honesty, probably the only thing that can be done to fix the issue is to have the implant removed and have one placed again in the correct spot. Questions immediately start flying around in my head. How much risk is involved with something like that? What if the second implant fails? What is the COST? Insurance only covers one implant every 5 years, so there goes ANY coverage that I could have received. And I still don’t have my Hawley retainer because I was waiting to receive my crown to do so, AND I’m moving out of state in a month. Things couldn’t get any worse.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I have an appointment with an oral surgeon soon, but I’m expecting the worst because, let’s face it, that’s pretty much what it is. I left the incident with the previous office in the dust because what’s done was done and over with, but now I’m angry – infuriated. I could go on and on, but I won’t. There’s no point. No one could feel the anger and frankly, hatred that I feel for this place right now. And I’m furious with myself for signing that settlement. I never thought anything like this would happen. I never thought another issue with them would arise. I immediately contacted an attorney when I got home yesterday and sent him the settlement I signed so he could look over it and tell me if there was anything I could do, since I don’t fully understand all the legal jargon. He said that due to the wording, he’s afraid I may be out of luck. It’s not fair for a company to get away with something like this. Ethically, it’s not FAIR. I should have had someone look over it before I signed it. That’s completely my fault and I take full responsibility for that, but when it comes to people’s health, money, well-being and LIFE, there should be a loophole, there just should be. Are they doing this to other people too? The worst part of all this is the fact that I can’t speak about them. They get to go on happily living their lives and innocent people may walk through their doors and end up having botched dental procedures and treatments just like me and I can’t warn a single person about them.
The moral of this story is – please, please ALWAYS do research on your medical providers. No matter how big or small your treatment or procedure may be.