Extreme Couple Tries to Save Money with At-Home Dentistry

There are plenty of people who go to great lengths to skip their dental appointments. In many cases, dental phobia, or fear of all things related to dentistry, keep people from visiting their dentist the recommended two times a year. Some might schedule the appointment, but as the date approaches, anxiety drives them to cancel. Another common reason why people miss the dentist is due to finances. Some believe that the cost of dental work is out of their budget, and because they view most procedures as optional, they simply skip it. Or, if you’re like one couple, recently featured on TLC’s program, Extreme Cheapskates, you take matters into your own hands.

According to a recent Entertainment Tonight article, the couple, Grant and Karen Hearn, decided to attempt an at-home tooth extraction in an effort to dodge the $185 bill for a root canal at their local dentist. They had figured it all out. Grant, who would be performing the procedure, studied dentistry on YouTube, and while he was uncomfortable completing the task, he felt pressured to because his wife threatened to do it herself if he didn’t help. They were going to use Benzocaine, a local anesthetic used in several over-the-counter pain relievers, to numb the gums and a pair of pliers bought at a yard sale. Of course the pliers were sterilized first using rubbing alcohol. Grant even made his own version of a dental suction tool using a bendy straw, some duct tape, and a vacuum cleaner.  The couple estimated that they would save $175 by doing the procedure at home, after spending only $10 on supplies.

The show had not aired at the time of the article’s publication, so I’m not sure how the story ends, but I can only guess that it wasn’t pretty. Even if the couple was able to pull the extraction off (pun, definitely intended), there are several ramifications that they may face down the line. First of all, without the proper medical training, there are a number of things that could go wrong during the procedure, nevermind all of the unnecessary pain that will most likely accompany such an event. With modern technology, a root canal procedure can be completed with virtually no pain and with the comfort of knowing that a qualified professional is taking care of you. Also, without proper care after the procedure, there is a good chance that infection can occur at the extraction site. Over-the-counter drugs will not take care of that, meaning the patient may be headed to either her dentist or the ER to remedy that situation, and possibly spending more than the original cost of care. And finally, the tooth did not need to extracted. A root canal could have saved her natural tooth, while extracting can lead to many other issues. If they didn’t want to spend the money on a root canal, I imagine they weren’t going to spend the money on a replacement tooth. That means that Karen will be left with a hole in her mouth, which can cause not only the shifting of all of her existing teeth, but has been known to leave some feeling insecure, losing self-esteem over their unsightly smile. In my opinion, the $185 bill would have been money well spent. What do you think about this incredible story?

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