Is a Dishonest Dentist Costing You Money?

contributed by Karen Kinnane

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Has your dentist found more cavities yet you’re feeling no pain? Maybe there isn’t really anything wrong with your teeth. The following tips can help you spot a dishonest dentist and find a trustworthy one.

Have you ever had a dentist who always finds you have one or two cavities during your annual check-up? And then another dentist who rarely discovers one? This happens because people rarely shop around for a dentist. Most dentists are honest, but there are those few who are not.

My dentist rarely finds a cavity, and I’ve been using him for years and have healthy, sound teeth. My friend used to take his entire family (himself, his wife and four children) to another dentist, and every year they each had one or two cavities. I encouraged him to try my dentist for their next check-up. And guess what? No cavities among the six of them.

Not only did switching dentists save them a lot of money, but it also protected perfectly sound teeth from drilling and filling, which can hasten the demise of those teeth.

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If I were searching for a new dentist, I’d ask people not whether they liked their dentist but how many, if any, cavities they had filled each year. Then I’d pick three dentists whose patients said they had the fewest cavities each year (and who had good-looking teeth) and book appointments with all three dentists for an exam.

The exams will cost you money, but after three exams in the same week, you will know which dentists claim you have cavities, how many cavities and in which teeth. If one dentist says you have no cavities, one says you have a cavity in your left upper bicuspid and the third says you have a cavity in your lower right molar, you know which one is telling the truth.

If all three say you have one cavity in the same tooth, then you know you can safely pick the one of the three you liked best and get that cavity filled.

When they were young, my mother and her sisters were in the grip of a terrible dentist who drilled and drilled non-existent cavities. He told them all their teeth were so soft that they were cavity prone. Not one of them had a sound tooth in her mouth after this cheat finished with them. My mother, when she moved out of state, used to take an hour bus ride back to Manhattan to get this thief to work on her teeth “because no one but my dentist knows his way around my mouth with all the work that he had to do over the years.”

She was too ignorant to test another dentist. The man became rich by treating ignorant immigrants and the unaware children of immigrants, which my mother was. When I was little, I had a lot of “cavities” filled. Then I figured out what was going on and switched dentists and have not had a cavity in years because I brush and floss religiously and have my teeth cleaned twice a year by a dentist who is not a thief.

This is a widespread, expensive and damaging consumer fraud. If you have cavities every year, get your exam and don’t let that dentist “fix” the cavities. Instead, go to another dentist and see if he determines you’re cavity-free, says you have a cavity in the same tooth as the first dentist or claims you have a cavity in a different tooth! This will cost you an extra exam or two, but you may be able to save a fortune over time if your dentist is cheating you.

There are honest dentists out there, but you have to find one.

Reviewed April 2023

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