Is Your Dentist Giving Your Bank Account A Root Canal?

We had to take out a loan earlier this year to pay for some dental work that our insurance wouldn’t cover. It sucked. What’s worse is that as we shared dental stories with friends, we quickly realized that our dentist is what you might call a “premium” service provider, in that she charges awesomely high fees for her work. What we should have done was the get a second or third opinion, among other things, says Personal Finance Advice website.

The article also advises that you look for dentists who attended public university rather than private schools because they tend to be less aggressive about pushing more profitable cosmetic procedures (although at least one dentist has said that his profit margins are the same regardless of procedure type). We’re doubtful this is the most accurate way to evaluate your dentist, but it does highlight a disturbing trend in dentistry today, which is that in many cases it’s closer to cosmetic surgery than health maintenance.

Ryan C. Allen offers another insider’s view of what to look for in a dentist. He suggests you ask your dentist directly, “So, why did you want to be a dentist?” Then try to gauge the sincerity of his response. He also suggests you take the condition of the office into consideration – the more expensive it looks, the more profit-minded your dentist may be. And if you’re bombarded with images of cosmetic dentistry as soon as you walk in the door, you might want to turn around immediately. (N.B.: we can’t verify that this man is actually a dentist, but his advice made sense, so we included it anyway.)

Last year, SmartMoney published “10 Things Your Dentist Doesn’t Want You to Know,” which included the hilarious but unsubstantiated claim that “15 to 18% of dentists are addicted to drugs or alcohol.” The ADA wrote back a terse letter which, interestingly, didn’t address the addiction claim. Now we’re wondering why our dentist laughs so much when we’re in the chair.

How to Save Money at the Dentist – Get a Second Opinion [Personal Finance Advice]
10 Things Your Dentist Doesn’t Want You to Know [SmartMoney]

(Photo: antjeverena)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.