Dentists Charge Too Much

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i realize that becoming a dentist or even a dental hygienist is not easy, but the charges for dental services strike me as being excessive and more than many people can afford. Medicare has no dental coverage, so when Thom or other progressives talk about extending Medicare as an option for everyone, they should point out that the program does not cover dentistry, except for some Medicare Advantage plans which are alternatives available in some areas from private insurance companies. (It also does not cover regular eye exams or glasses or contacts, unless you have eye surgery.) A local dentist once wrote a letter to the editor in which he complained about dental insurance being inadequate and obsolete, not having kept up with the costs of most contemporary dental procedures and treatments.

I went to one dentist who has a computerized machine which makes crowns in one appointment. The hygienist pulled down a small video screen and showed me a brief video on office-made crowns. The dentist said that I had several questionable fillings which, she claimed, might eventually have to be replaced with expensive crowns. I asked for a copy of my X-rays and went to another dentist, who said that in his opinion, I didn't need any crowns. He said that if I needed any fillings replaced, I could have regular fillings put in. He said that some dentists almost seem to specialize in installing crowns as the main part of their practice. That is just what they do, he said. Even though he didn't think I needed a crown, he said that something about the idea of getting a crowns was justified. I wasn 't quite sure if he was talking in generalities, or was talking about my specific situation.

I went back to the first dentist for some routine appointments and even had some convential plastic fillings done at her office by her staff. But when the issue of crowns came up again, I failed to make another appointment for a regular cleaning. The dentist's office sent me two postcards reminding me to call and make an appointment, and then actually called me at home. I thought this only further demonstrated the aggressive marketing that this particular office uses to convince patients to have services.

For those who don't know, crowns are quite expensive, probably over $1000 per tooth at most offices. I don't want to lose my teeth, but I don't want some expensive prothesis that I may be able to do without. A woman I spoke to at my dental insurance company said that a study was recently done of conventional amalgam fillings which concluded that they pose no health risk.

I might mention that Thom has a recorded commercial for a dentist in the local market of my progressive radio station, and this dentist advertises that she uses mercury-free fillings. These I'm sure are perfectly fine fillings, but the older silver amalgam type, according to the research study, are safe. I have had them for years and have no apparent side effects, and millions of people have them.

I found a new dentist who is nearby and who is in-network, so I am going to try him to see what he says about the condition of of my teeth.

One of the news magazine shows on T.V., a number of years ago, sent a correspondent to several different dentists, and they gave him different diagnoses of how many cavities he had and fillings that he needed. Prior to these exams, he was examined by a dentist who was a faculty member at a dental school, and the other dentists came up with more problems in need of restorations than did the professor, and their opinions were not all identical. It makes you wonder if dental schools are doing all that is necessary to instill professional ethics into their graduates, and if dentists are adequately regulated by the state licensing boards. Greed seems to be something of an issue.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


You have my sympathies, since I too have had my difficulties with dentists, and they with me, as the following excerpt from a letter of mine to a local dentist will show:

"...I prefer this other dentist not only for his more ethical and reasonable rates, his ability to diagnose my situation without consulting with any other professional, his creation of a comfortable atmosphere without the idiocy of overhead television, and his kind, respectful and accommodating staff, but also for the sense that I am dealing with a human being, as opposed to a soul-deficient, profit-oriented egoist."

Pretty funny, in retrospect, I must say. However, in my defense, my insults were entirely warranted. For god's sake—overhead television?!

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I used to see here in Columbus, Ohio a dentist who is a real witch. The philosophy of the office is not helping the patient but bringing in additional revenue by taking advantage of every single cent of insurance benefit for a given year (roughly $1,500.00 in my case) and then expecting you to pay an addition thousand to fifteen hundred out of your own pocket. When you refuse or say there are buidget restrictions the next step is telling horror stories and or trying to get you to take out a "CareCredit" account at 22% interest rate which they get a kick back from for signing you up.

My teeth are not in that bad of shape and are in better condition than most my age - mainly because I have had preventative treatment, brush daily and floss. But I do have budget considerations. I have kids who are covered under the same plan. In addition to the $1,500. on each one for the calender year this witch and her office manager try to incorporation another $1,500s (out of pocket) on each child bringing the grand total of revenue (insurance and out of pocket including my husband and I plus the kids) to $15,000 per year. Not only is this outrageous but who can afford it. I want healthy teeth for the entire family but I do not want to pay for someone's frequent trips to the Bahamas each calender year either. In case you are interested - Beware of Brenda Roman, DDS. Be there and been had.

Santus Emporium's picture
Santus Emporium
Oct. 27, 2014 9:03 am

Tell me about it. First off when I had dental care with my health insurance company one dentist billed me for "instructions on flossing" each time I got my teeth cleaned. So I called the office manager and she said they added these additional charges because my dental plan didn't pay enough. I got her to remove the charges.

Another dentist sent a letter that they would no longer take my dental plan. I changed dentists again. The "bargain" dentist also came up with addtiional charges and demanded I have frequent x-rays. Went back to the prior dentist and paid out of my own pocket. Oh and got sucked into CreditCare too but I always paid off before the 22% interest kicked in. GE finally canceled the card.

In the late 1990s a dentist sent me to an practitioner who did bone build-ups for one tooth. That cost $1400. A few years later my next dentist sent me to a specialist who determined that tooth couldn't not be saved and had a dental surgeon extract. That surgeon showed me how the root went off at an angle and could not have ever been saved. Similarly I spent $1900 on a molar for the bone buildup but since it still gives me trouble probably also has a bad root angle. By the way the guy that did the buildup actually paid attention to business issues and told me that private dental plans were worthless, only the corporate plans paid enough.

It used to be a cleaning was just that. Notice that they do "whiting" for more money these days. The toothpaste I use daily has that built in and if I get a spot of it on a dark t-shit it will bleach a spot there. Oh and my current dentist wants to replace a crown too. I just don't have the money for that. I've also only allowed cleaning once a year. I'm surprised that unemployed hygenists haven't gone into business themselves providing much cheaper cleanings. Must be highly regulated. You can buy most of the implements at any drug store to scale plaque yourself.

In the 1980s, a freind who is an optometrist told me that the last symposium he attended for optometrists the keynote speaker told them they were failing if didn't prescribe glasses and/or contact lessons for every patient that came in. He was appalled!

captbebops's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I go on medicare in 6 months. I talked to my Dentist about recommended plans. He told me that I ahould probably not get a plan as he charges his Senior continuous patients 50%. Now you know that he is not losing money. Even with dental insurance I just paid $225 to have two fillings replaced. Looking at Medicare you pay $104 per month for 80% coverage of medical only. 20% of todays medical bills could kill most anyone.

Nov. 27, 2012 7:46 am

Too bad you aren’t planning a visit to Mexico. My daughter and son-in-law could give you an honest appraisal and could provide any restoration you might need at a fraction of the cost. Maybe your insurance wouldn’t pay? They're pretty up to date. Two visits to Germany for specialized training and my son-in-law is faculty at the university's fine dental school.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2
Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

I was just going to suggest Mexico. Many Medicare patients head south of the border for dental work.

In the US a new scam is night guards because of evidence you grind your teeth, so this mouth mold and guard that insurance always pays for is cast and billed and adds 1000s of dollars to the practice, if they can get all new patients to buy into it. New Patients? Special cleaning and x-ray package gets new customers in. Cleaning and exam, free x-ray. Exam and x-ray, free cleaning, cleaning and x-ray, free exam, you know, the common grift.

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Another problem I had was with cleanings. A prior cleaning visit years ago included a list of additional charges. One was "instruction on flossing" for $15. They billed for that every time even though I knew damn well how to floss. I called the office manager and she explained they didn't get enough from my dental insurance and hence the additional charges. She removed those charges.

My last dental office always "whitened" my teeth. They didn't used to do that and these days so many toothpastes whiten anyway. It's just another way to grab some extra money from you. I use a more expensive toothpaste that really does keep gingivitus away and the teeth very clean. One can also use implements available at any drugstore to do a lot of cleaning yourself.

I also "you need a new crown" talk on one of my last visits but since I'm not noticing any problems think the "new" dentist was sniffing around for some extra bucks. The original more ethical dentist who had the practice had to give it up as he began having aural migrains. If you are familiar with those like I am you wouldn't want to be working on someone's teeth and get a bout of it.

Another dentist who recently retired said in recent times he was doing fewer cavities and attributed it to the fluoride. I avoid tap water and drink distilled water and don't get cavities. I think if fluoride helps cavities then what is in my toothpaste is sufficient.

captbebops's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Why Hasn't Congress Taken War Powers Away From Trump?

Thom plus logo Donald Trump's pathetic betrayal of our Kurdish allies in northern Syria highlights the importance of Congress taking seriously it's constitutional obligation to define and authorize war.
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