Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Putting my money where my mouth is literally

As most of you know, when I was getting my invisiline done, I wasn't a happy camper AT ALL. When I first elected to get Invisline I was told it would take a year and a half at MAX to go through the process, that I was a candidate for the program despite the excessive state of my teeth's condition... and that the invisiline would give me the same results that typical braces would. 

It was 4x the price of braces (because you had to pay upfront for all the aligner trays), but since I was in college and going to graduate soon I didn't want to go through having braces in my early job hunting days... especially since i'm 5'1 (and look young enough without them)... Plus I hated having braces as a child because they were so hard to clean. In the end I opted for the larger expense of invisiline because I could take them out to floss, for pictures, or for any interviews I went on. I paid for the invisiline on care credit (0% interest for 12 months) and paid off the balance within that allowed time frame.

Once I started my invisiline, the problems started as well. After I got my first "tray" and wore it for a month instead of the advertised 2 weeks, they put adhesive brackets on my teeth to help "hold the tray in place"... something they failed to mention to me when I signed up for them. The next month, yes month not 2 weeks, they introduced me to "IPR" where they jam a metal strip between your teeth and manually grind your teeth to create "room"... IF this would have been explained to me I would have opted for the braces since they move multiple teeth at the same time so you don't need to grind them. 

And FYI, I'm not a stranger to pain or dentists. I had 4 teeth pulled when I was a kid for my first set of braces and I was awake when they removed all four of my wisdom teeth (and I didn't take the Vicodin they prescribed me because I didn't need it). So when I complain about someone doing spotty dental work, something is wrong. 

Since I had to pay in full for the whole thing I was stuck with them unless I wanted to walk away from $4,500 and pay someone else another $1,600 for braces... so I tried to wait it out because that was more money then I wanted to spend to be able to bite into a burger and not have the lettuce come out between my teeth. 

About 5 trays and 5 months in they started talking about bracketing my teeth... and I lost it. Essentially my teeth were not moving the way the trays were trying to force them to move. They admitted in not so many words that they should have just recommended me for braces... 

So I went to bat. I got them to agree that if it came to the point where brackets were necessary that they would pay for them and I would be entitled to a partial refund of my invisiline costs since it was so much more than my original quote for braces. They agreed but they said I would need to exhaust all my "revisions" that were included in the price before they would attempt braces. So they re-molded my mouth and sent me off for my first revision to try again with the invisiline.    

4 years later and three full revisions I had to get braces... My bottom teeth were straight, but my upper teeth were no longer responding to invisiline. When the time came to put them on, I had to fight for them to comp the braces again, and I could kiss goodbye the partial refund. The paper they put in my file was missing and after arguing for a half hour they agreed to comp my upper permanent retainer ($800) and agreed to give me my clear braces at no cost. Thank God i'm not afraid to stand up for myself anymore--- at least financially speaking. I also closed my care credit account to insure that I wasn't going to get billed there "accidentally."

When the braces came off, they tried to charge me for my upper retainer despite agreeing to comp it just a few months before... They brought over a woman and she started yelling at me telling me I was wrong... I stayed calm and told her to go talk to the doctor because she was in the room when (the woman who was yelling at me) agreed to comp it herself. The doctor who was working with another patient just told her to let me go and to not push the issue. I didn't end up having to pay for it... but the lady made me feel guilty... like I did something wrong and was trying to steal from them. 

At that moment I decided I'd never step foot in there again... not even for my free whitening that I was entitled to. They even left bracket glue on my teeth from the braces because they couldn't remove it all and they almost ruined the enamel on one of my teeth trying to. 

So that leads us up to this week....

The glue holding my lower retainer in place snapped off. I knew I was in a pickle because money has already been tight with the new wedding location costs... but I just couldn't go back to that evil ortho place again... even though it should have been free to have them repair it. 

I decided i'd put my money where my mouth is, literally. I called my dentist that I LOVE and told her about my situation (she was well aware of my horror stories from when I came in for all my cleanings). She told me to come in on Monday and she would look at it for free to see if they might be able to fix it... and they would let me know how much it would cost before they did anything so I could get the work done that day, or come back at a later time if need be. They also told me they could refer me to a new orthodontist if i needed one and would rather go there instead. 

When I arrived the staff couldn't have been more professional. I showed my dentist which teeth still had the glue on them from the brackets, and where the retainer had come loose. She asked the billing department to cut a deal for me and they agreed to do the work even though they aren't an ortho office. They re-bonded my retainer for $75 and charged me $110 to remove the glue remaining on my 3 upper teeth. I was in and out of the office in no time and it was PAINLESS. I wasn't crying in the chair swearing that they were yanking my teeth out... or almost choking on my saliva... (both of which happened while they tried to get my braces off at the ortho place). My dentist even kept checking in on me throughout her work to make sure I wasn't in any pain and that I was satisfied with everything.

I thanked them as I left for their wonderful work, put the $185 charge on my AMX (since they closed the billing cycle for this month already I can work the dentist costs into next months budget) and I left a happy customer. 

I'm actually really happy I paid for the work to be done by someone else because the quality of the work was worth the $185 alone. 


  1. I guess the adage 'get it in writing' is worthwhile in this case. The ortho office should've put all your revisions in writing, and you should've been given a copy. Maybe you should report them to the state professional organization. Glad your dentist was able to help out.

  2. Are you happy with your smile now- any photos available?