|Dental work found on a 4,000 year old mummy.|
Dentistry has probably been unaffordable for as long as it has been around - about 9,000 years or more if archaeologists are right. Those that can't afford proper dental care no doubt have been driven to do it themselves for about as long.
The only time I have ever done do it yourself dentistry is when I used white glue to stick a crown back on until I could get an appointment with my dentist. I was kind of surprised that it worked as well as it did, but it didn't make me think of expanding my DIY skills in this area.
At the time I didn't realize that there was such a thing as home dental repair kits for temporarily attaching teeth and replacing fillings. Then I read an article about the hundreds of thousands of such kits sold every year that are unfortunately being used instead of visiting a dentist.
It is squirm-inducing stuff, and conjures images of people pulling teeth with a pair of pliers and anaesthetic in a bottle. But if you can't afford the cost, what is one to do?
12% of those who had tried DIY techniques had tried to extract a tooth by using a piece of string tied to a door handle. 30% of DIY dentists had tried to whiten their teeth with household cleaning products.
Other DIY procedures people admitted to included:
• Using household glue to stick down a filling or crown (11%)
• Popping an ulcer with a pin (19%)
• Trying to mend or alter dentures (8%)
• Trying to stick down a loose filling with chewing gum (6%) - source
The estimate I have from our new east coast dentist (our west coast dentist was the best we have ever had and we miss him dearly) amounts to many thousands of dollars worth of work. To replace my missing tooth alone would be about $5000.
Thankfully none of it is an emergency (unless a slightly less toothy smile is an emergency), and most amounts to maintenance work that we will be able to get done (or not) over the next few years. Any money we spend has to come directly from our pockets.
We have not had the benefit of dental insurance since we quit permanent full time employment about 15 years ago. On the other hand, we have had more time to live a healthy lifestyle that promotes good dental hygiene.
Now our dental insurance is adequate brushing and flossing, and a healthy diet. And low stress. Stress is bad for teeth and other living things. And bad teeth cause stress - it a vicious circle.
No one should have to rely on DIY dentistry. Perhaps there is some way we can provide adequate dental care to everyone. Even if we did manage to engage our governments in an enlightened dental policy, brushing and flossing go a long way to avoiding problems. That and living simply.