I expect to get ripped off by mechanics. That’s why I always send my husband to get repairs done on my car. But, I never considered dentists would behave the same way. I had a toothache. I’m not new to toothaches and really don’t enjoy dentists so I put it off. Eventually, of course, the pain was so distracting I couldn’t work. So, off I went to see an emergency dentist. As expected, he did a root canal treatment and dental crown. I went home, no longer in as much pain, but certainly poorer. Soon afterward, I noticed my husband hadn’t been eating. When I inquired, he said he’s had a bad toothache which he’s trying to wait out. I reminded him when I put mine off it meant a root canal and dental crown, but he insisted he’d be fine if he just waits it out. It wasn’t too many days later when he asked me for the emergency dentist’s number— probably because there was a big game coming up and he didn’t want to miss out on eating the tailgating grub. But, when he went to the dentist, all he had to get was a simple filling. Is this an example of pink tax? I thought medical professionals, such as dentists, were above that.
First, let me explain “Pink Tax” to those who may be unfamiliar with the term. It’s when a woman is charged more than a man for the same product or service. I didn’t see either you or your husband’s cases, so I couldn’t say based on your description whether or not there was gender inequity in your treatment with any certainty. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t give you some possibilities of why you and your husband received different treatments.
Emergency Dentist Scenario One
You are a rockstar in dealing with pain. You can take it like no one else. Your husband, on the other hand, thinks he’s dying when he gets a cold. So, by the time you were in enough pain to see the emergency dentist, your decay had turned into a full-blown infection. Maybe you even had an abscess as the infection rampaged through your tooth area. So, the dentist looked at your situation and knew right away you’d need a root canal treatment and dental crown.
Several days later, in limps your husband, begging for relief. The dentist searches for some explanation for his tears, but all he can find is some mild decay. So, he gives him a filling and sends him on his way.
Emergency Dentist Scenario Two
You and your husband both have decay. The decay has traveled about the same distance. Unfortunately, your decay is close to the pulp, while your husband’s decay has traveled a different direction. You would need a root canal and he wouldn’t. It could be as simple as that.
What it really boils down to is each dental scenario plays out completely different because each of our bodies is unique. The only thing I can tell you with certainty your emergency dentist did wrong was not explaining to either you or your husband why he’s recommending the treatment plans he did. A dentist should always let you know what is going on and give you treatment options. To not do so is unethical in my opinion.
How to Never Have to See an Emergency Dentist Again
You mentioned that you tend to avoid the dentist. That is not an uncommon feeling. I’m not sure if you do so because of financial or experiential reasons. But, let me try to help you with both. When you go to the dentist regularly for preventative care it almost always keeps you from needing emergency care. Not only that, it saves you money in the long term. For instance, maybe you’d have never developed a cavity where your tooth became infected with the right care from your dentist. Or, if you did develop decay there, your dentist would have caught it quickly. Then all you would have needed was a tiny filling, instead of the invasive treatments you were stuck with.
You should know there are gentle dentists out there if that’s what keeping you away. You can do an internet search using the terms, “gentle dentist“, “sedation dentist”, or “cater to cowards dentist”. Each of them has different ways of providing pain-free dental care. You can determine which method is best for your situation. But do check them out. You may find it completely changes the way you view dental care. Even better, you may never have a dental emergency again for the rest of your life.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Tammy Tran.