Hi it’s your friend, the dental hygienist. Ester offered excellent advice — get a personal recommendation from a friend who’s had experience with an office that works with cash patients. You may even say to the hygienist “I’m embarrassed I’ve been forced by circumstances to wait so long, please don’t shame me.” I know this should go without saying! But just case you get an overzealous hygienist who thinks she’s doing you a favor with scolding.. it’s better just to say that and be done with it.
I have a beef with that NYT article. It implies that you go to the dentist for routine preventative care only to prevent cavities. While cavities may be the scourge of kids and the unlucky few with a high rate of decay, the real threat to adult teeth is gum disease. If you don’t take care of your teeth, both with home care and regular dental visits, you run the real risk of losing them by the time you reach middle age. People keep their teeth until the end of their life now because they seek prophylactic care, something that article would lead you to believe may be unnecessary.