I Got Braces

(Post 6 of 184 189. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

All the way back in 2008, I was dreaming of getting braces. I had them as a child, but I had to stop the treatment as I was having allergic reactions to the metal or something in the braces and I kept breaking out in sores. I always kicked myself for not finishing because my teeth got really crooked again and I start having an overbite. But I’ve since learned that this happens a lot even when you finish your treatment and that someone who had braces as a child might still need them as an adult.

At any rate, in 2008, I had health insurance that would’ve covered 50% of the cost of braces. My out-of-pocket cost would’ve still been something like $10,000. It was insane. I made the decision I was going to hit the road, so I made sort of peace with my awful teeth.

In 2013, I visited my first Mexican dentist. I was suddenly awakened to the fact that there are countries where dental care doesn’t necessarily have to be a luxury. My dentist in Mazatlan in 2015 was the first person who flat out told me that getting braces wasn’t just a vanity thing but that it would help my teeth wear better.

Since I got to Mérida, I have kept a master list of spending priorities. In December, I decided that braces was now near the top of the list and that it was time to get a quote so that I could perhaps start at the end of 2020. I had visited a few dentists and gotten a range of quotes just from a visual observation, but I hadn’t found a dentist that I particularly clicked with. I eventually got a reference from a friend of mine for a dentist in a part of town that I normally would have discounted, but I was shocked to find out some of his prices. Even though he is in the Altabrisa area, which is quite upscale, his prices are very much in line with what I would pay at the dentist in my neighbourhood. His office is absolutely no frills, which I like. I want to pay my dentist for his services and his equipment, not his fancy furniture.

The initial visit was just to have a cleaning and a consult. That was supposed to be about 350 pesos. I asked him about braces. He went into detail about the process and how long it would take and that he could take moulds and start right away! He seemed to kind of brush off my questions about money. I finally had to make it clear that that was my biggest concern at this point. He said that was the least of his concerns. The cost was going to be 4000 pesos upfront, then about 10 visits at 400 pesos each, plus I was going to need the moulds and some x-rays, all for an additional about 1000 pesos. So about 9000 pesos total. About 600CAD. Total. 😳 If I could not pay the 4000 in one shot, we would make it work however many payments I needed.

This dentist was unlike any I have ever encountered in Canada! There, I have never felt like I, the patient, came first. It was always about the money.

Needless to say, this suddenly became something that I didn’t really need to budget — or wait — for. I agreed to have the moulds taken right away and we would meet again in a month to install the first set of braces.

Moulds taken, I was sent around the block to another location to have the x-rays done. I did not have an appointment there and they still were able to take me right away. To my surprise, they would just email the x-rays to the dentist and they also gave me an actual print-out for me to take home!

A month later, at the end of January, I had my first appointment to have the braces installed. This dentist does it in stages so you can adjust to them.  So he only installed braces on the top six teeth, the two front, and then two on each side. He only charged me 2000 pesos for this visit instead of the full 4000 in one shot.

Within days, I was absolutely miserable. I had a huge sore on one side of my mouth inside the lip. It was really bad. I stopped in at a pharmacy to ask if they had a medicine like what I would’ve used in Canada, Orajel, but he was in absolutely no mood to deal with me. He said to go to a doctor and come back with a prescription. The next day, Sunday, I really could no longer put up with it. I was feeling very fragile, I hurt that badly! I called a pharmacy in my neighbourhood and asked if there was a doctor who could prescribe me something with benzocaine in it. The person who answered the phone passed me over to a pharmacist. He confirmed that I was an adult who was having ulcers from braces and asked me for my address. When he had it, he told me to have 200 pesos ready and that help was on the way. Sure enough, soon after that, I got a delivery of a medicine called Kanka! That stuff hurt almost as badly as the ulcer, but it really helped.

A few days later, I was almost healed and I had another installation appointment. I was very honest with my dentist that my two weeks have been hell and that I was miserable and that this was not working for me. He told me to keep up with the Kanka and oral wax as necessary and that he would see me in two further weeks. There was no charge for this appointment.

I am really glad that I did not play the martyr because those extra two weeks really made a huge difference. When I went back in, I was ready for him to install six braces on my lower teeth. He did that, and that was almost 3 weeks ago now. I am going in again on Tuesday to have more installed. I have braces on 12 teeth now, so there are 20 to go.

I am surprised that I am already seeing results! The dentist told me that I would be happy within three months with my front tooth that was sticking out, and I am already noticing a huge difference. I have even had one person comment that he can see a difference too!

This is going to be the first visit that will only be 350 or 400 pesos. That is barely going to sting in the budget. I am so grateful to live somewhere that I can afford to take care of myself like this. I had really given up on this being a possibility for me in Canada. And even when I had health insurance, it would’ve still been a huge financial burden that I would’ve likely put off.


3 thoughts on “I Got Braces

  1. I’m so happy for you!

    That dental wax stuff is great! My Dave’s dentist gave him some because Dave’s teeth break. He can cover any sharp edges with that wax and be OK until he gets in to have it fixed. I hope you can cover sharp places with the wax.

  2. Thank you! I went through so much wax those first two weeks! I only have two teeth that need it — the top ones on the side where the wire ends and pokes out a bit. Even with manipulating the wire to get it out of the way, those two brackets still cause me trouble. I did at first have to put some on that front tooth that was sticking out, but within a week, it had already moved enough that I didn’t need it!

    As for Dave’s teeth, OUCH.

  3. I am very happy that you have decided to start the treatment. My parents tried their best and had braces made for me in Argentina when I was 14 but with moving to Canada a few months after that the treatment never worked properly and I have had crooked teeth since then, I will be 72 next month.

    I have had a low grade tooth ache for a month but I am afraid to try and get an appointment because of COVID (and the price in Canada).

    And again because of the virus I cannot drive to my usual Mexican dentist in Las Palomas.

    All the best with your treatment.

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