There are lots of honest and caring dentists who want what’s best for you and your teeth. However, there are also plenty of questionable dentists who see dollar signs every time you open your mouth to say, “Ahh!” How do you know if you’re working with a dentist who falls into this latter category?
5 Warning Signs of a Bad Dentist
The dental industry is like any other field – there are good, honest professionals and greedy, misleading individuals who will try to take advantage of you. Here are some signs that you’re in the office that isn’t putting your best interests first:
- Frequent Specials and Deals
“Legitimate dentists often caution against practices that advertise specials and deals, such as a free cleaning or a laser dentistry and whitening package,” health blogger Chloe Della Costa writes. “These specials are often a ploy to get you in the door so the dentist can upsell you on expensive treatments, even if they are unnecessary.”
Be wary of any dental practice that has lots of billboards and TV advertisements. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dishonest, but it indicates that they’re hyper-focused on sales and revenue. Good dentists rely on quality work and word of mouth marketing to keep their practices thriving.
You can also do online research to find out if a dentist lives up to their advertising hype. If, for example, you’re searching for a dentist in Wilmington, NC, a website like Healthgrades lets you see ratings and reviews from actual patients. Scroll through these and see what people are saying.
- Lots of Expensive Treatments
Some dental procedures can be expensive. However, if you have no history of dental problems and your new dentist is suddenly suggesting a bunch of costly treatments, it’s probably worth getting a second opinion.
When it comes to dental fraud, medically unnecessary procedures are a common claim. Whether it’s a crown, sealant, root canal, veneer, or fluoride treatment, make sure you ask questions and seek out second opinions (when there doesn’t appear to be much evidence).
- Fillings Without Justification
Would you believe that the diagnosis of nonexistent cavities is one of the most commonly reported scams in the industry? If you don’t have any pain or can’t see any evidence that a cavity exists, don’t let the dentist do the work.
On a related note, a good dentist will walk you through some of the pros and cons of different filling methods and the risks that exist with certain types. If he just dives in with a drill and starts grinding away, he’s probably not the most trustworthy doctor.
- Excessive X-Rays
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a health patient should get a full set of X-rays every two years – at the most. If your dentist is trying to get more frequent x-rays from you, you should question their motives.
Repeating x-rays too frequently adds unnecessary radiation exposure without any real medical benefit. It’s best to wait at least two years, unless there’s a viable reason for doing it sooner.
- Lots of Procedures Not Covered by Insurance
If you’re having a procedure done, your dentist office has already called your insurance company to find out what’s covered under your plan. In other words, they know exactly what they can bill for during the visit. This leaves you more vulnerable to receiving a treatment that may not be necessary, but is most likely to be reimbursed by the insurance provider.
“Gray line between whether the tooth needs a filling or a root canal? A root canal and subsequent crown is more lucrative and easy to pass by an insurance company if the dentist claims the patient was in pain…Even if a filling would have done the job,” Dr. Mark Burhenne explains.
In other words, a dishonest dentist will develop a treatment plan based on what’s most profitable – not what’s best.
If your dentist is recommending/pressuring you into choosing lots of expensive and intensive procedures, you have every right to ask questions and get second and third opinions.
Find the Right Dentist for Your Needs
With so many dentists to choose from, you have to be careful and decisive. If you find yourself in the office of a dentist who feels shady, gimmicky, or misleading, you have every right to go elsewhere. The beginning of a new year is a great time to start the search for a more trustworthy dentist who makes you feel comfortable.