Have you ever been suspicious that your dentist lied about cavities to you? Did you have to pay more than you thought was necessary for procedures you didn't fully understand? You're not alone.
My Dentist Lied About Cavities
Many years ago I was in college. In between the hubbub of midterms, sleepless nights, and Ramen noodles, I heard a radio commercial for Mint Dentistry.
I didn’t know anything about Mint Dentistry, but I figured they were reliable because I had seen their billboards. I showed up thinking I would get a quick cleaning and be on my way. I had never had any dental issues before.
To my surprise, when I went in to get a routine check-up, the hurried dentist told me that I had a cavity. I promptly set an appointment to get it filled and the next week they completed the filling. I paid several hundred dollars which was probably more painful than the uncomfortable procedure.
Six months later, I went in for another routine check up and to get my teeth cleaned. The dentist came in and said that I had two more cavities that I should get filled as soon as possible. I became suspicious.
I Got A Second Opinion
I scheduled a dentist appointment at the office I had gone to when I was growing up. The dentist was a family friend and I trusted her to be honest with me.
I told her that this the dentist at Mint Dentistry had recommended I have two fillings.
She exclaimed that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my teeth and that a filling would be completely unnecessary. When I had gone to Mint Dentistry, their dentist had lied about cavities to me.
It Happens Everywhere
I've taken time to research this phenomenon and I'm not the only one whose dentist lied about cavities. It apparently is happening more and more. Not just with cavities, but with much more extreme procedures. There are many reasons dentists commit fraud like this:
High Dental School Costs
The cost of going to dental school has doubled since the 90's. Young graduates and even dentists years into practicing are having to pay off incredible amounts of money for their education.
The business may have become less lucrative than they had originally planned, and you can imagine how tempting it would be to over-diagnose to make up the difference.
Quotas From Large Corporations
Struggling small dental practices are often bought out by large dental corporations like Mint Dentistry and Modern Dentistry.
Dental corporations manage the business aspects of their practice. After giving up control to executives in offices far from the dentist's clinic, dentists are often at the mercy of their new bosses. These non-medical professionals are working toward making a profit and have full authority to give dentists quotas for procedures, and to threaten them with a pink slip if those quotas aren't met.
Competition Is Higher
Older dentists are retiring later and later while new dentists are still entering the market. As this continues it becomes more difficult for dental clinics to be profitable. If a dentist is struggling to make payroll because he doesn't have enough patients, you can imagine how easy it would be for him to simply prescribe an expensive procedure in order to make ends meet.
What Can You Do?
Technology has changed a lot and so has the dental industry. There are now many reputable dental solutions that are available commercially. Companies like these are not meant to replace necessary procedures, but offer innovative products that fix problems only dentists have been able to in the past.
Brighter Image Lab has been offering Lab Direct dental alternatives since 1997 and offers affordable choices like teeth whitening, tooth polishing, and even dental veneers.
Many honest dentists practice ethically everyday despite the number of dentists engaging in deceptive practices such as lying about cavities, prescribing unnecessary procedures, and over-prescribing procedures to fix issues that patients could do without.
While there isn't a way for you to be 100% certain your dentist is one of the good ones, you should stay skeptical, and always trust your instincts if something doesn't seem right. If you've been told you need an overly expensive procedure, get a second opinion like I did. It may be hard to justify the cost of the second check-up, but you can end up saving a ton of money in the end.