Lori Curley: While waiting on the patient's side of the sliding-glass doors, I overheard my daughter's orthodontist's wife, "Mrs. Perkily," on the phone. She collects the payments and sets the appointments, but this particular call seemed personal. She was telling the caller about the flooring she chose for her kitchen. I noticed that she wore a glowing tan and a stunning topaz ring set with diamonds. She nodded to let me know that she was getting off the phone.
Curious (or nosy), I asked her, "Are you renovating?" She giggled. "Yes, I am so excited," she said. "I have wanted a new kitchen for years." This got me thinking about my own lousy kitchen ... and I realized that my daughter was wearing the kitchen I dreamed of on her teeth. For that matter, my daughter's slight overbite was replacing Mrs. Perkily's countertops. I began to wonder: How much dental work is really necessary?
One mother told me that her daughter had worn a retainer for two years because the orthodontist had said it would "do the trick." But now, the same expert was telling her that her daughter needed a full set of braces. We both wonder about the correlation between "needs braces" and "needs new kitchen" or "needs to cover costly college tuition."
Before settling on the orthodontist for our daughter, I got quotes from three different shops. The guy closest to the best public high school in the area was ready to take $15,000 from us. My husband looked at the quote and said, "Tell him to f--- himself." The next guy I went to was the scariest: He burst through a swinging door in a shop the size of a dressing room at Macy's, didn't know my daughter's name, didn't look in her mouth, didn't introduce himself. He merely handed me a quote of $3,000. When I told my husband about that experience and the price, he said, "Tell him to f--- himself."
The third guy seemed the most reasonable, but I hope his kitchen doesn't run overbudget ....