A growing number of dentist offices around the country have increasingly and aggressively begun to over-diagnose patients in a move to drive up profits.
According to MyFOXChicago.com, one group of 11 dental patients recently filed a class-action lawsuit against a prominent corporate-run chain of local dentists that operates throughout New York City.
“Maybe they came in because they had a toothache and maybe needed a filling; they walk out with a two- or three-thousand-dollar treatment plan,” Brian Cohen, a New York-based attorney representing the 11 patients in the class-action lawsuit, said. The group’s lawsuit alleges that the dental clinics are guilty of practicing unlawful corporate medicine.
“They lure patients in with promises of free X-rays and exams and the quicker they can get them out of the dental chair to the sales chair, the better,” Jeffrey Norton, the lawsuit’s co-counsel, said.
The group’s lawsuit is one of the more extreme examples of this growing trend to focus on driving up profits at dental practices. Over-diagnoses can be as simple as telling a patient his or her dental condition needs to be treated with a special procedure when the issue can be managed or monitored non-surgically, MyFOXChicago.com reports, or giving a tooth a filling that it might not have needed.
With these corporate-minded and profit-prioritized dentist offices on the rise across the country, how can one find a dentist that will focus on patient’s dental health rather than getting more money?
When looking for a dentist, it’s usually a good idea to read dentist reviews online to get a clear, unbiased look at the clinic’s business practices.
And if your current dentist makes a diagnosis that doesn’t make sense to you, feel free to speak up or go to a different dentist office to seek out an alternate opinion.
Have you ever felt like your dentist over-diagnosed you during a dental cleaning or check-up? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.
If you’ve simply been combing the local results when you type “dentist” into Google, you may be getting frustrated in your quest. The good news is that there are better ways to find a dentist. Here are some answers to questions on how to find a local dentist that meets all your needs.
Do you have any other tips on how to find a local dentist? Share how you found the dentist of your dreams in the comments.
When people think of solutions for crooked or discolored teeth, traditional braces and in-office whitening procedures are probably the first things that come to mind. Did you know that there is another method used by cosmetic dentists that can fix both of these issues without metal wires and potent bleaching gels? Veneers are becoming a more popular treatment for people who want to achieve a straight and bright smile, with veneer solutions increasing in popularity by more than 250% in the last five years alone.
What are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers are a thin, tooth-colored material that is adhered to the front surface of the teeth. Veneers can enhance the look of teeth, improving their shape, alignment and color. Porcelain or resin composite are typically used to make veneers, though porcelain veneers are often more natural looking and resist stains better than resin veneers. Dental veneers typically last anywhere between five and 10 years, after which they need to be removed and replaced with new veneers.
Who Should Get Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers can fix a number of different issues that patients might have with their teeth. Veneers can provide a solution to teeth that are chipped, broken, uneven, discolored or have a noticeable space between them. Veneers offer an alternative solution to painful braces or costly teeth whitening procedures, but it is important to ask a dentist first if it is the best solution for your teeth.
What are the Benefits of Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers have many benefits. First and foremost, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between real teeth and veneers since they are specifically designed for each individual patient. Veneers are also resistant to stains that affect natural teeth, allowing you to enjoy your favorite foods and beverages while maintaining a bright, white smile. Since veneers fix several different issues, from discolored teeth to crooked teeth, they allow you to solve multiple problems with a single treatment.
Dental veneers are a great alternative to the traditional methods of fixing crooked, discolored teeth. As they become a more popular cosmetic dentistry technique, it is important to consider them as a viable dental solution for a number of different problems.
Finding a dentist can be a daunting task. Sure, Google can get you a hundred names of dentists near you who can easily handle your dental exams and professional dental cleanings… but that’s usually not the only reason people are picky when it comes to their dental health. Here are some common questions when looking for a dentist.
“How do I find a dentist for my kids’ teeth?”
Most dentist’s offices will have at least one certified pedodontist (children’s dentist), so you may be able to consolidate your and your kids’ appointments into one trip. Very occasionally, a general dentist will also specialize in children’s teeth (this can happen more often in smaller towns), but if you’re looking for a one-stop shop, you’ll likely have to schedule with two different dentists for you and your children.
“Is it possible to find a dentist who does regular exams and cosmetic procedures?
There’s usually a distinction between “general” dentists and “cosmetic” dentists. That being said, many general dentists now provide a few basic cosmetic services. Chemical whitening, for instance, is a fairly straightforward procedure using a peroxide-based mixture to oxidize stains away from your teeth. Over the past five years, as more and more general dentists add whitening to their menu of services, the amount of procedures performed has gone up 300%.
“How do I know what kind of dentist I really need?
With all the specialties out there, confusion is understandable. Orthodontists deal primarily with misaligned teeth, and can help patients avoid gum disease, tooth loss, and unnecessary wear on their enamel. Periodontists deal with the gums specifically. Oral surgeons specialize in reconstruction and complicated cosmetic work. Endodontists deal with the inside of the tooth (the root and the pulp).
“How can I find a dentist I can trust?”
For many, this is the most important question of all. After all, your teeth are the gateway to your overall health — the healthier your teeth, the healthier your body and its various systems. As such, don’t be afraid to ask any potential dentists questions (like if they offer emergency services, or how large their referral network is). It’s okay to interview your dentist to see if it’s going to be a good fit. And never, ever be reluctant to switch dentists if you don’t feel you’re getting the best possible care at all times.
July 7, 2014 in Blog
Cosmetic dentistry is sometimes referred to as a purely appearance-based specialty of dentistry, without any real connection to health. However, as more and more research points to the strong link between the health of our mouths and the health of our bodies, more and more “cosmetic” procedures are proving to provide a big benefit to our overall physical health and well-being. Here are a few examples of cosmetic procedures that are actually pretty good for you.
In order to quickly and effectively cover decay spots, hide severely discolored teeth, or even out an irregular bite pattern, patients may elect to have porcelain veneers installed. These are custom-shaped, thin porcelain shells that are installed directly over the front part of a crown, offering a brand new facade and an immediately improved look. The health benefit? When porcelain veneers are used to cover decay spots, they effectively seal up the affected areas, preventing further damage.
Modern reconstructive cosmetic dental surgery usually begins with the placement of dental implants. These are small posts, made of titanium alloys, which are inserted into the jawbone to act as surrogate roots for replacement teeth. Implants can help patients who are missing one tooth, several teeth, or all their teeth have a beautiful, brilliant smile again. The health benefits? The new dentures are permanent dentures (implants can boast a 98% success rate), so digestion is improved, gums are better protected, and the patient’s diet is completely free of restrictions, unlike with traditional dentures.
Chemical whitening involves the application of a peroxide-based solution to the enamel in order to oxidize stains and discoloration away. While whitening is perhaps the most “cosmetic” of the cosmetic procedures, with arguably the fewest direct health benefits, the psychological, emotional, social, and even financial benefits are not to be ignored. A whiter smile can make a person more confident, more friendly, and yes, even more hirableto the world, especially in professions with a lot of camera time and media exposure. Better success, quite simply, leads to better health across the board.
The simple truth is, the healthier our teeth, the healthier and happier we are, whether it’s a direct physical benefit or a less-measurable but no-less-important boost in our self-esteem. Keep them looking great, and you’ll keep yourself feeling great for years and years to come.
July 2, 2014 in Blog
Did you know that if you fail to floss, you end up missing 40% of your tooth surfaces when it comes time to clean? Although everyone might want clean teeth, there’s often a disconnect between what people should do, and what they actually end up doing. Often, some of the disconnect is due to miscommunication or a lack of information. Here are four common questions many people like to ask a dentist, as well as their answers.
1. Is There a Point to Visiting a Pediatric Dentist?
It is very important that good dental care begins in youth with pediatric dentistry. Not only does this help establish a good lifelong habit of visiting the dentist and caring correctly for teeth, but dentists can take preventative measures to prevent problems from occurring later on. A child who has a bad brushing technique, for example, can have their technique corrected before permanent damage is done to the teeth.
2. Is Cosmetic Dentistry Expensive?
There is a large variety of potential cosmetic dentistry procedures. While some — like porcelain veneers — will be more expensive, others, like teeth whitening, can be highly affordable. It’s worth keeping in mind that better teeth can often give people a confidence boost and help them create better first impressions, which can be important both socially and in the workplace. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99% of Americans agree that smiles are important social assets.
3. If I Don’t Get Cavities Easily, Do I Really Need to Floss?
Yes! It’s no secret that flossing is one activity that many dental patients would rather avoid at all costs — in fact, about 75% of Americans surveyed say they would rather go grocery shopping than floss. Even if your teeth are good at standing up to cavities, flossing, along with brushing, helps ensure good gum health. Many people don’t realize just how prevalent gum disease, known as periodontal disease, really is. It affects about 80% of adults in the U.S., and, left untreated and unmanaged, it can lead to irreversible bone and tooth loss.
4. Is There Such a Thing as a Bad Dentist?
It’s fair to say that there are some dentists you may want to avoid, which is why reading online dentist reviews is a good idea if you haven’t heard about the practitioner through word-of-mouth. If a dental office is frequently overbooked, or the dental staff are inexperienced and have trouble answering patient questions, that is something you’ll want to know.
If you have children, do you visit a pediatric dentist? Let us know in the comments.
May 13, 2014 in Blog
But unfortunately, we know that’s not the case.
The number of Google searches in a single month for “cheap dentists” might shock you, but cheap dentistry is what struggling families are looking for. As more and more connections between oral health and total-body health are discovered, the importance of professional dental cleanings and expert examinations is becoming clearer. However, the issue of “cheap dentistry” is really two separate issues.
First, there’s the upfront cost of care, and to be fair, this can be a difficult hurdle to jump. Parents see the cost of services for their children’s oral care (or their own), and the strength suddenly goes out of their knees. But it’s important to remember that the cost of dental care, especially preventative care, doesn’t begin and end with that single bill. It’s spread out over all the future problems prevented by those services — the fluoride treatment that prevents cavities, the filling that prevents further breakage and loss of teeth, and the braces that reduce the likelihood of major reconstructive surgery down the line.
The second issue is the use of the word “cheap.” It can easily conjure up images of substandard care and unsanitary conditions. The passage of the Affordable Care Act left very obvious holes in dental coverage for adults (though children’s services were deemed “essential”), and many found themselves scrambling to supplement their existing coverage. This led to a spike in searches for “cheap dentistry,” and the accompanying surge of less-than-reputable sources to fill the need.
So what’s the best way to tell the difference between an affordable dentist and a cheap one? When you walk into their office, if you’re not 100% comfortable and confident that your teeth (and the teeth of your whole family) are in good hands, you should walk right back out. A family dentist for kids and adults should put everyone at ease, exude confidence and competency, and leave no doubt whatsoever in your mind that you are getting the best care possible, no matter what the price.
May 1, 2014 in Blog
A new survey by Gallup shows that 33% of Americans have not been to the dentist in at least a year. This is troubling news, especially given that the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends an absolute minimum of one visit every 12 months, to prevent complications and the development of potentially serious health conditions. What could happen, and why are so many Americans neglecting critical dental care?
What You Don’t Know…
Many Americans do not realize that forgoing a trip to the dentist can, in rare circumstances, ultimately kill you. “Recent studies have also found an association between poor oral hygiene with cardiovascular disease and stroke, likely due to dislodged oral bacteria entering the bloodstream,” Fox News explains. Both heart attacks and strokes, of course, may be fatal. Finding a dentist, then, ultimately affects overall health as well as the quality and duration of patients’ lives. Poor dental and oral hygiene may also contribute to long-term, non-fatal health conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis.
Americans Still Cannot Afford A Family Dentist
“Individuals who made more than $120,000 a year were twice as likely to have visited the dentist than those who earn less than $12,000 a year,” Fox News reports of Gallup’s recent survey. In other words, a considerable number of Americans are still struggling to secure inexpensive dental care. Finding a cheap dentist — and one who offers relatively reasonable dental cleanings — is more than possible. Discounted dental clinics, emergency dentists, college dental programs, and other dentists in training all offer tooth cleaning and oral care services at lower costs.
Fear of the dentist still tops the list of common phobias. Dentists’ sharp tools — coupled with notoriously painful dental procedures like root canals — scare people away. Experts recommend being upfront about your fears. Dentists will likely be more patient; they can also explain all steps of dental procedures (and the exact function of the tools and equipment involved) to help alleviate fears. For patients who need more reassurance, sedation dentistry is also available.
Too few Americans are getting the dental care they need. Phobias and dental procedure costs deter many patients away from traditional and emergency dentists. A startling number of Americans simply do not understand the important of reliable dental care, or its impact on overall health.
Everyone wants whiter teeth. In the United States, patients spend $1.4 million on whitening procedures alone, ranging from basic chemical whitening trays to laser-activated in-office procedures. In extreme cases, patients can even undergo full dental replacements on titanium implants. But if you fall somewhere in between (i.e. if your teeth show some visible decay that chemical whitening can’t hide, but are otherwise healthy and strong), then porcelain veneers may be the perfect solution.
Porcelain veneers are exactly what they sound like — false, porcelain fronts installed over your existing teeth. Picture the false store fronts on a movie set for an old Western. Veneers will not only cover decay spots or badly stained teeth, but they’ll also in effect seal off the tooth from further damage.
The process is fairly straightforward. A patient receives a series of dental exams, which gauge everything from enamel strength to root health. Dental molds are taken so the veneer (or veneers) can be created to exactly match the tooth it’s replacing, including shape, size, and shade. Then a thin layer of enamel (usually around a millimeter is removed from the existing tooth, so that the veneer doesn’t protrude farther out than the surrounding teeth.
The porcelain veneers are created and bonded to the tooth, and the patient’s smile is instantly restored to its former glory. For patients who might find cosmetic dentistry too expensive at first glance, veneers can also be made from a composite resin, which may make the procedure more affordable. Be advised, however, that porcelain veneers are inherently stronger than the plastic ones, and will therefore last longer.
Porcelain veneers are a great middle ground between general whitening and full implant-based replacement. If you’re self-conscious about your teeth because of unsightly decay spots, ask your dentist about veneers, so you can stop hiding your smile from the world.
Believe it or not, dental cleanings are about much more than cleaning your teeth. Your semi-annual cleanings serve as the perfect opportunity for a family dentist to examine the condition of your teeth, your gums, and your bite pattern, as well as any other oral health concerns you may have.
Examining Your Teeth
When you consider that dental exams need to pay particular attention to the enamel of your teeth, the cleaning process can actually seem like just the first step in the process, literally clearing the way for a more involved inspection. Your dentist is looking for areas of decay, discoloration, or sensitivity, as these could be signs of underlying problems.
Examining Your Gums
Your teeth are just the most visible part of the dental picture. Healthy roots are vital to strong, functional teeth, and the gums act as protective blankets for those roots. Unhealthy gums warrant extra attention, to determine if that protective layer is weakening and potentially exposing the roots to danger, or if the weakening of that protective layer is a result of a deeper problem within the root.
Examining Your Bite
Dental exams also inspect how your upper and lower teeth fit together, know as your bite pattern. A healthy bite pattern should distribute the pressure evenly across the contact points of the teeth, so that no area is wearing away faster than another, and so that we can efficiently chew our food. If the bite pattern is shifting, advanced dental technologies like dental digital x-rays can help your dentist determine the cause (such as unerupted wisdom teeth, or significantly weakening roots).
Dental exams and cleanings can help your dentist identify and address areas of concern before they become full-blown problems. Whether or not you enjoy your cleanings, be sure to keep your appointments — your future mouth will thank you.