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Broke-Ass Dentist: NYU College of Dentistry

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For me, going to the dentist is about as thrilling a prospect as using a soldering iron to remove one’s own ruptured appendix. I use this fairly dramatic example in order to impart to you, dear broke reader, how very much I truly dread the dentist, despite the fact that I am about to “recommend” one to you. This is a dentist for the desperate and destitute. A haven of help for the heinous-toothed. An ivory tower of improvement for the insurance-less. Dental school. Specifically, NYU College of Dentistry.

I don’t have dental insurance. A large portion of the people I know don’t have dental insurance. So for us there are few dental care options that won’t send us reeling with unreasonable or unending monthly payments. And if the current political climate is any indication, we may not have help on the way.

Yes, there are drawbacks. I went in to the NYU Dental emergency room during the school’s Christmas break, when the staffing was minimal and the waiting was maximal. But apparently, a long wait is normal. And there’s the obvious fact that you are treated by dental students who are practicing and not practitioning on your vulnerably cranked open mouth. These two factors coupled can lead to fear getting the better of you. While sitting in the front of the large, open ER, listening to the usually unnerving sounds of dental drills droning and pondering the questionably qualified wielders of these tools, I saw people give up and walk out. The looks on their faces suggesting that the wait and the anxiety were simply not worth it.

However, there are real dentists (the professors) on hand who are consulted about every patient, who come by and do their own professional assessment of the students’ evaluation and proposed course of action. And the chair-side manner I was treated to was largely positive (though this can vary quite greatly according to online reviews).

I went in for a toothache. I had to pay $95 up front. It turned out they had to remove a wisdom tooth. I’m 28, so this wisdom tooth had time to really take root. So they call in the oral surgery student who drills on my jawbone for what felt like hours (probably half hour or so). When he’s finally done, I ask him how much this is going to cost. He says $95. I ask, “$95 more?” He says, “Oh, you’ve already paid? Yeah, no, just $95.” So any emergency procedure that they can take care of in one sitting is $95. So, I’m thinking, for $95, bring in Paul Wall, I’m getting grilled up!

Apparently grills are not an option. But for $95, you’re pretty much taken care of until the next dental emergency brings you back in.

NYU College of Dentistry
345 E. 24th St. (at 1st Ave.)
(212) 998-9818
subway: 6 to 23rd St.

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Joe Petersen - Classist Columnist

Joe Petersen - Classist Columnist

Joe grew up in South San Francisco, spent a decade in Santa Cruz, and
relocated to Brooklyn in late 2008. He has been a waiter, a maintenance
man, a record store clerk, a professional radio DJ, an amateur
newcaster and a movie theater popcorn-slinger. Being broke is his
birthright, as he is from broke stock and has limited prospects. He
likes comic books and is obsessed with soul music.


  1. January 16, 2010 at 7:02 am — Reply

    Hello,I’m in the process of starting up my own website.  I enjoyed your post so much that I would like to mention it on my site (with full attribution of course).Is that okay with you?Thanks!Sandy

  2. January 31, 2011 at 4:23 am — Reply

    That’s a pretty big bad mouth right there.

  3. January 31, 2011 at 12:23 am — Reply

    That’s a pretty big bad mouth right there.

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