While most dentists are honest and ethical, there are a small number that don't play by the rules. For that reason it's important to stay informed to avoid getting ripped off-or worse, getting a procedure you don't need. From over-diagnosing cavities to insisting on deep gum scaling, here are six signs your dentist might be scamming you.
You spend just as much time with the finance person as you do the dentist
It's a red flag if your dentist passes you off to someone else to talk about the cost of any given procedure. Kelly M. had a dentist who handed her a treatment plan in the $9,000 range-but when she started asking questions about particulars, the dentist waved her off to his financial person saying he didn't "talk about the money part." She ended up sitting through a 40-minute sales pitch from the finance woman. Worst part? When she got a second opinion the following week, no issues were found. If your dentist can't explain why something needs to be done, it's best to find a new dentist.
You're given a treatment plan that includes unexplained procedures or x-rays
On occasion, shady dentists will add a procedure or treatment to your bill that you didn't actually get. They then bill your insurance and get paid more for the phantom treatment. One way to combat this is to make sure each line item is explained when you sign the bill at the end of your appointment.
You're suddenly diagnosed with multiple cavities
One of the biggest scams in the dental field is the diagnosis of nonexistent cavities. John F. had been cavity free his whole life when he went to a new after moving to a new town. The dentist told him he had eight cavities that needed to be filled. When he got a second opinion, it turned out he didn't have any cavities at all. If you're seeing a new dentist and the diagnosis falls outside the norm of your dental history, get a second opinion.
You're told you need deep teeth cleaning
Deep teeth cleaning (also referred to as scaling and root planing) is a procedure normally reserved for those with frequent gum infections or periodontal problems. If you don't have a history of either and your dentist is pushing you to get a deep teeth cleaning, make sure you first check with your insurance company to make sure it's covered (many times it's not) and find time to get a second (or third) opinion. If the dentist is pushing you to get the treatment right then, it's an even bigger red flag.
You're put on a quarterly cleaning schedule
Most insurance companies pay for two cleanings a year-one every six months. If you're not having any major oral issues and your dentist schedules a cleaning every 3 months, you're getting scammed. Not only is this totally unnecessary, you'll have to pay out of pocket for those two extra cleanings a year. If you're brushing twice a day and flossing regularly, there's no need to make those extra visits.
The dental hygienist is filling your cavities or doing the root canal
It's true: a small number of dentists let hygienists, assistants, and other staff members perform some treatments. Not only are you getting shoddy treatments from unqualified people, the insurance will be billed as if the dentist performed the procedure. Only a licensed dentist should fill cavities, perform root canals, and extract teeth.
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