A healthy mouth is essential to your overall well-being, but if you are like many people, you avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. Essential treatments can certainly put a dent in your budget, but you could also find yourself spending money unnecessarily.
Of course, most dentists are professionals who truly care for the health of your teeth, gums and mouth. However, as with any profession, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch.
When a board-certified dentist with more than three decades of experience complains about an increase in so-called “creative diagnosis,” as in this op-ed article posted by the American Dental Association, looking into your own dental care is definitely a good idea.
“Whatever happened to minimally invasive dentistry?” wrote Dr. Jeffrey Camm. ”
Here are a few of the most common ways an unethical dental practice could potentially rip you off.
1. Deep Discounts to Get You in the Door
A dentist’s office that advertises amazing deals may end up costing you in the long run. Those low-cost exams and x-rays might be a ploy to get new patients in the door, only to inform you that you require thousands of dollars’ worth of treatment (much of which may be unneeded). Seek referrals from people you trust over discounts when searching for a new dentist.
2. Doesn’t Request Records
Be wary of a dentist that does not at least attempt to access your previous dental records. Having a baseline to go by is simply a good practice. In addition, exposing yourself to dental x-rays without reason can do more harm than good.
3. A Healthy Mouth Gone Bad
If you have had fairly regular dental exams with no major concerns and a new dentist suddenly claims that you need extensive (and expensive) treatment, you have reason to be concerned. This is especially worrisome if they urge you to have work done right away. If you fear fraud, get a second opinion.
4. Examine Your EOB
Your insurance provider will send you an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) that clarifies how much the dental office billed them, how much they paid and the amount for which you are responsible.
Go over this document with a fine-tooth comb, making sure the procedures listed are legitimate and determining whether you were charged appropriately. If not, notify your insurer immediately.
5. Pushing Cosmetic Work
A dentist who urges you to undergo treatments that are purely for “looks” may be in it for your cash. Of course, if you have concerns about the appearance of your teeth, then this is totally legitimate. However, if they’re pushing cosmetic changes that you don’t want, you may want to look elsewhere for a new dentist.
6. No Guarantee
A reputable dental office will stand behind sensitive and pricey work, such as a crown, bridge or implant. Ask the dentist or office staff about their policy for adjustments and repairs as well as any costs for which you would be responsible in the event that a follow-up appointment is required.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, alternative treatment options or even a second opinion if you are worried that a dentist might be ripping you off. Take steps to protect your money and your health.