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Dentistry in the News: “Why Your Dentist Costs So Much.”

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This post is a follow up to an article I wrote about a few months back.

My conclusion: if you don’t trust that your dentist has your best interests at heart, you need to ask them about it or find another dentist.

A couple more points were made in the second article that are worth reflecting on. One commenter was quoted to say:

“My wife saw a dentist who quoted her $750. Then halfway through the job, when she was numb and had a big hole in her mouth, he told her he misquoted the price and it was going to be $1,500. She could not exactly argue.”

What can I say about this? I’m about 99% sure that the dentist was preparing a tooth for a crown and realized that there were bigger problems with the tooth than expected. The tooth was probably going to need a root canal treatment as well as the crown in order to save it. I’d love to say something like this has never happened to me, but it has. I try to explain possible risks and complications prior to starting a treatment. However, it’s not unheard of to need to revise my diagnosis and treatment plan once I’ve had a chance to look closer at a problem. I try to avoid these kinds of surprises, but when it happens I explain it in plain English. The patient always has a choice to refuse treatment. I’m guessing that this patient didn’t feel like their dentist explained what was happening very well and the patient came away feeling like the dentist was putting the screws to them. Unfortunate, to be sure.

Most of the rest of the article tried to explain why a) dentistry is expensive and b) why one dentist costs a different amount than another. I think dentists spend way too much time trying to justify their fees and way too little time explaining why we suggest the things that we do!

The very best part of the article was in reference to “how do I know if my dentist is a good one?”

“Ask a dental specialist, like an endodontist. One specialist wrote to tell me, “The best way to find a good dentist is to find a specialist who sees everyone’s patients on a referral basis. He or she will know who is good and who isn’t. Trust me, as a specialist, I know who is doing what, because I see their work every day.”

That’s a tip I had never thought of, but I think it’s valuable.

After reading the follow up article I come up with conclusions similar to the first article:

  • Dentistry is expensive.
  • No one* likes having to have dental work done.
  • No one likes paying the bill.
  • Prevention is MUCH less expensive than needing work. But having work done immediately is similarly less expensive than waiting if something is broken or it hurts.
  • “Dental insurance” isn’t really like insurance at all. Dental benefits are kind of like a gift card. Usually it’s like a gift card that covers about half of the gift you’re looking for. It may help with some of the costs of dentistry but is not likely to pay for more extensive needs.

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So talk to your dentist. Ask a lot of questions. Get a second opinion. Or third! Try to be a good consumer and you’ll feel a lot less like a victim.

If I can answer any questions about this post or any other dental questions I would love to hear from you! I can be reached by email at: alan@meadfamilydental.com. I answer all of my own email and would love to hear from you! Or you can call the office at (989) 799-9133. I would love to be your Saginaw dentist!

*I know there’s probably someone reading this who thinks “I like seeing my dentist so much I’d go more often if I could!” You are great people to have as patients, but frankly, I wonder about you.