The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-14-2010, 03:50 PM
Yarster Yarster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Dental 'Deep Cleanings' a quasi-scam?

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but my wife and I have been going to a very large dental practice for the last 10 years and have been noticing a huge effort to push the so called 'deep cleaning'. Basically, it's an additional teeth cleaning, except they do a little more work on the area below the gumline.

I am especially religious about going for the six month cleanings, brush twice a day, floss reasonably often, and yet every two years, they seem to want to do the deep cleaning. The previous 20 years of my life when I took far less good care of my teeth, no such service was ever requested or even offered. Naturally, this 'extra' is not completely covered by the insurance and seems to make them additional money since they are hitting you up three times a year instead of two. I have consistently gone in to get it when they ask to do it, but today both my wife and I were hit up for it, and they asked us "when was the last time you had a deep cleaning?". This struck me as strange because that shouldn't matter, should it? All that should matter is whether I need it. It felt like they were really asking "when was the last time you had it because the insurance carrier only allows us to hit them up every so often and we want to know if enough time has passed for us to hit the cash register again..."

Maybe I'm just paranoid, and when it comes to my health, I'm obviously going to do what I can to stay as healthy as possible, but something about this procedure struck me as somewhat "made up". What say you on this? I'd particularly like to hear from anyone in the dental field, particularly any former hygenists who might fess up as to whether they have been asked to upsell this...
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 05-14-2010, 03:55 PM
Yarster Yarster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Along these same lines, is the so called 'teeth cleaning' offered by the vet for your dog or cat a quasi-scam as well? Growing up, no vet I ever took our family pet to ever offered this service, but now they all push it. Apparently it involves giving the animal anesthetic and treating it like a surgery, which strikes me as horribly cruel to perform unless the animal is undergoing surgery for something else already. I say 'Quasi-scam' because I certainly don't think either of these things is going to hurt the animal (or person), but is it a complete waste of money relative to the amount of good it will do for the person/animal?

Last edited by Yarster; 05-14-2010 at 03:55 PM.. Reason: Typo
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-14-2010, 04:07 PM
Ichini Sanshigo Ichini Sanshigo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
IANA Dentist, but I work in a dental office. "Deep cleaning" is the patient-friendly term we use for a scaling and root planing. An SCRP is a thorough cleaning of the gums, and is necessary for patients with gum disease/ gingivitis. Once you've got gum disease, you've got it for life, although if you take good care of your teeth and gums, you may not need another SCRP after the initial 4 (one per quadrant).

I don't know if you have gum disease, but you should definitely ask your dentist for more (and hopefully, more accurate) info.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05-14-2010, 04:17 PM
Ichini Sanshigo Ichini Sanshigo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
ETA:

Also, just because your insurance carrier doesn't allow it doesn't mean it's not necessary. I handle insurance for our office, and I can tell you, coverage is all over the damn place. What gets covered depends on your carrier, as well as on your particular plan within the carrier. Perio stuff is sometimes covered under "preventive", and sometimes, basic, and I think I saw one plan that had it under major. Most plans will only cover two cleanings per year, but the thing with gum disease is that after your cleaning, the bacteria in your gums will have regenerated after 3 months (hence the checkups every 3-4 months instead of 6).

Really, your hygienist (dentist? who does your cleanings?) should have explained this. But, yeah, if you've got perio disease, it's not a scam.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05-14-2010, 04:41 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
If you have doubts go to another dentist for a 2nd opinion.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05-14-2010, 04:58 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yarster View Post
Along these same lines, is the so called 'teeth cleaning' offered by the vet for your dog or cat a quasi-scam as well? Growing up, no vet I ever took our family pet to ever offered this service, but now they all push it. Apparently it involves giving the animal anesthetic and treating it like a surgery, which strikes me as horribly cruel to perform unless the animal is undergoing surgery for something else already. I say 'Quasi-scam' because I certainly don't think either of these things is going to hurt the animal (or person), but is it a complete waste of money relative to the amount of good it will do for the person/animal?
We rescued our bullboxer from the side of the road; his previous owner dumped him on side of the road because she was up to her ears in debt and had her home foreclosed on (roughly two years ago). He's my family's first pet, so we went to the most expensive/widely advertised vet in town. He recommended putting the dog to sleep while he cleaned his teeth; my mom politely declined. Then, as time went on, we found a more reasonable vet (that also caters to big dogs and bully breeds) who also recommended the cleaning; he'll be getting it this summer sometime. So it's not a scam; keep in mind however that our dog had pretty much no vet care for years before we got him and some broken teeth to boot, so if your pets have always been yours, it may not be as necessary.

Last edited by lindsaybluth; 05-14-2010 at 04:59 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-14-2010, 05:28 PM
thirdname thirdname is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
I went to a dentist and he said I needed to spend a bunch of money on this. I put it off, and meticulously brushed and flossed in the meantime. My next checkup was at a different dentist, who said I was fine. I wonder which one is right. Am I supposed to do 2 out of 3 opinions? 3 out of 5?

The first one also asked me if I wanted braces, which pissed me off because I already HAD braces as a teenager. There is a bit of space that opened up between my front teeth since then, but it's symmetrical and I'd never thought anything of it.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-14-2010, 05:57 PM
Yarster Yarster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Thank you for the opinions on both the people and the animals.

Ichini Sanshigo - so, have you ever been asked to upsell this service? Or is it common in the dental field? I ask because I once heard (from a highly biased friend, obviously) that one of the purposes of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was to "stop all the crooked dentists and chiropractors from overbilling".

With all the talk of healthcare costs spiraling out of control recently, I wonder if part of the problem is unnecessary procedures being done in the name of "health maintenance" that may be of dubious value beyond the regular cleaning. I really don't want to turn this into a Great Debate, but I have never been told I have gum disease, and am otherwise happy with the dentist, other than this one thing. I suppose I should have asked about it, but didn't think to at the time...

Last edited by Yarster; 05-14-2010 at 05:58 PM.. Reason: typo
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05-14-2010, 07:43 PM
kevlaw kevlaw is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
My previous dentist was a specialist in wallet extraction. He always had some new scam he was pushing. Deep cleanings, braces, cron replacements, bridges...

It was like have a user car salesman doing my teeth.

I switched dentists and she is always like "well, you could do XXX but it's not really worth the trouble".
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05-14-2010, 10:26 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Hey, as a future dentist, I'm the biggest skeptic there is. Since we're sharing stories...

A few years ago, as a lowly college student, a local dentist passed out coupons around the neighborhood for a $50 cleaning. Sweet! Don't have to go home for a cleaning, and half price of what the going rate around here is.

2 hours into my cleaning they tell me - via a light/pulse sensor - that I have six cavities. I'd never had a cavity in my damn life! They pressure me to fix them right then an there - at a steal at just under 2k. I tell them I'll make an appointment later in the week and rush out the door to call my mother, my sensible, if very harsh, mother. Who tells me she'll bet it all that I have 0 cavities. So I go to the dental school - the very place that doesn't stand to profit from my mouth. I have a 60 year old professor, retired from 20 years of private practice to teach, tell me I have some of the best enamel she's seen in her career, and that I'll never have a cavity so long as I brush just once (once!) a day. Oh, and I don't have any six or two or four or any cavities then, nor do I now. She had to report him, it was bad. He's still in practice, though.

But the bad part about filling teeth is the evidence is gone once the filling is in, so who's the wiser?
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 05-14-2010, 11:37 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yarster View Post
Along these same lines, is the so called 'teeth cleaning' offered by the vet for your dog or cat a quasi-scam as well? Growing up, no vet I ever took our family pet to ever offered this service, but now they all push it. Apparently it involves giving the animal anesthetic and treating it like a surgery, which strikes me as horribly cruel to perform unless the animal is undergoing surgery for something else already. I say 'Quasi-scam' because I certainly don't think either of these things is going to hurt the animal (or person), but is it a complete waste of money relative to the amount of good it will do for the person/animal?
I don't think THIS is a scam. Dogs and cats can have rotten teeth just like people do (especially if they eat a soft diet or lots of people food). The dog I used to have required a dental cleaning because her teeth became very bad as she got older. It would be cruel to let an animal have painful rotten/infected teeth instead of doing a cleaning (and anesthesia is probably the best way to make sure the animal isn't stressed out by the cleaning).
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 05-15-2010, 09:19 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Nanjing, China
Posts: 8,961
My dentist wife indicates that unless you have a periodontal problem, you shouldn't require a periodontal treatment, assuming that it's as Ichini Sanshigo's describes (Spanish-speaking dentists don't use laymans' terms for anything, and so my wife doesn't understand what "deep-cleaning" means in this context).

In Michigan, our dentist is always trying to up-sell stuff. I think he's also responsible for a crappy crown that's now resulted in my wife's having needed an implant (even when the labor's free, as is our case here, importing an implant from the US is expensive as heck!). Let's see… periodontal cleaning that she didn't need (she needed a working crown!); fluorescent light examination of the mouth in order to detect cancer; teeth whitening; oh, and a "special" antibiotic injection for some procedure that insurance didn't cover, although we were free to choose the covered antibiotic. I think I'm going back to the old co-pay insurance next time open enrollment rolls around.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 05-15-2010, 11:56 AM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
I'm nice, dammit!
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Southern Merrylande
Posts: 28,653
Last place we lived, our dentist kept pushing some sort of sealant for our teeth. I declined. I'm 56, still have my own teeth, and I just have a few fillings - all this after avoiding a dentist for most of my 20s. Being broke takes care of a lot of "necessary" procedures.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 05-15-2010, 01:15 PM
Heffalump and Roo Heffalump and Roo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindsaybluth View Post
2 hours into my cleaning they tell me - via a light/pulse sensor - that I have six cavities. I'd never had a cavity in my damn life! They pressure me to fix them right then an there - at a steal at just under 2k.
This happened to me too. except it was 2 cavities, I was told. I was really skeptical, so I asked if he was sure. And he shakes my hand and says, 'trust me.' That was his big mistake.

I went to another dentist who told me that I didn't have any cavities. That was 10 years ago and another dentist later and those 2 phantom cavities never materialized.

I also went to a dentist who pushed root planing. When I went to another dentist, I was told that my gums were healthy and that root planing wasn't necessary for me.

To the OP, I'd get a second opinion, if possible.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 05-15-2010, 01:53 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,176
Quote:
Originally Posted by FairyChatMom View Post
<snip> Being broke takes care of a lot of "necessary" procedures.
That's been my experience, too. For eight or so years I didn't go to the dentist because I couldn't afford it; my cleaning after eight years was just average, and the hygienist didn't say there was anything particularly wrong with my gums or teeth. With my latest dentist, I think they're from the Walking Wallet school of dentistry - my last hygienist was practically telling my my gums were going to fall out of my head. They scaled my roots and all that in January, and my teeth are finally settling down again.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 05-15-2010, 03:14 PM
cwthree cwthree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by lavenderviolet View Post
I don't think THIS is a scam. Dogs and cats can have rotten teeth just like people do (especially if they eat a soft diet or lots of people food). The dog I used to have required a dental cleaning because her teeth became very bad as she got older. It would be cruel to let an animal have painful rotten/infected teeth instead of doing a cleaning (and anesthesia is probably the best way to make sure the animal isn't stressed out by the cleaning).
This. Vets will also pull any decayed or broken teeth while they're working in there. And trust me, you DO want this done - dog/cat breath is never pleasant, but you haven't really suffered until you've had a cat with 9 (!) bad teeth who likes to put her face right up to yours.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 05-15-2010, 03:44 PM
BigT BigT is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by lavenderviolet View Post
I don't think THIS is a scam. Dogs and cats can have rotten teeth just like people do (especially if they eat a soft diet or lots of people food). The dog I used to have required a dental cleaning because her teeth became very bad as she got older. It would be cruel to let an animal have painful rotten/infected teeth instead of doing a cleaning (and anesthesia is probably the best way to make sure the animal isn't stressed out by the cleaning).
Definitely not with a dog with a small jaw, like my chihuahua. He's already lost teeth, and he's at a big risk for breaking his jaw.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 05-15-2010, 04:21 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 29,227
So what should a full-on, four quandrant deep cleaning cost, on average?
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 05-15-2010, 06:12 PM
Ellen Cherry Ellen Cherry is offline
Rich as a Lannister
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Near Eskippakithiki
Posts: 11,270
A dentist once griped to me about how bad the insurance I carried was and then proceeded to tell me she only accepted it to get new patients (of which I was one). Next visit I suddenly had five cavities! I was thunderstruck. Five? I declined to have work begin right away. I called back several months later, and she was no longer accepting the insurance.

I found a new dentist and had the mysterious cavities checked right away. She was baffled as to why I was told I had five cavities. I told her what I'd been told. She asked another dentist in the office to look. Nada.

Fast-forward 15 years and I've been going to a third practice for the last 10 of them. Never once has a cavity been found.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 05-15-2010, 08:06 PM
Perciful Perciful is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellen Cherry View Post
A dentist once griped to me about how bad the insurance I carried was and then proceeded to tell me she only accepted it to get new patients (of which I was one). Next visit I suddenly had five cavities! I was thunderstruck. Five? I declined to have work begin right away. I called back several months later, and she was no longer accepting the insurance.

I found a new dentist and had the mysterious cavities checked right away. She was baffled as to why I was told I had five cavities. I told her what I'd been told. She asked another dentist in the office to look. Nada.

Fast-forward 15 years and I've been going to a third practice for the last 10 of them. Never once has a cavity been found.
You know this is scary... My son has had two expensive root canals and my Mom said if they say he needs another one to get a second opinion. He is only 26 with no cavities and he started going to a big dental place and he has great insurance.

Dirty Dentists? Say it isn't so!
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 05-15-2010, 11:36 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdname View Post
I went to a dentist and he said I needed to spend a bunch of money on this. I put it off, and meticulously brushed and flossed in the meantime.
I had a similar experience. My gums were inflamed in one spot and my dentist recommended I drop a boatload of cash on this procedure. I procrastinated, and at the same time paid special attention to cleaning and flossing in the affected area. The inflammation went away in less than a week, and at my next check-up, my dentist had nothing to say about the area.

Of course, IANAD.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 05-16-2010, 10:22 AM
Lsura Lsura is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Back in the South, y'all
Posts: 6,498
Quote:
Originally Posted by spoke- View Post
I had a similar experience. My gums were inflamed in one spot and my dentist recommended I drop a boatload of cash on this procedure. I procrastinated, and at the same time paid special attention to cleaning and flossing in the affected area. The inflammation went away in less than a week, and at my next check-up, my dentist had nothing to say about the area.

Interesting. Two cleanings ago, the hygienist noted that my gums looked inflamed, particularly around one tooth. The recommendation was that I be very careful with my brushing and flossing - particularly in that area, but in general pay more attention to it. The next visit (in March of this year), I was told that things looked great, with no apparent problems.

I am going to miss my dentist when I move - I have never felt pressured into having work done for the cost - he explains why he's recommending something and when he needs to refer, I trust him to refer to an excellent professional, as he did when I had a major problem last fall. I came to his office after having been to a different dental practice to correct crown problem - that office was telling me I needed root canals on 3 teeth (yes, one of those teeth has a deep filling in it and will likely eventually need a root canal). Dr. Larsen said - "sure, probably, eventually, but right now it looks fine, and we're just going to watch it".

I've recommended his office to others in Tucson and will continue to do so.

I've never had deep cleanings recommended to me, so can't speak to the OP's question about whether they're scams or not.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 05-16-2010, 03:20 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: 'burbs of Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 13,359
Be very wary of the dental cameras that they use now that magnifies your teeth 100x or something like that. The lighting and magnification make it appear as if you have cavities (dark spots) where none exist. The dentist I went to told me that I needed to have all 4 of my previous fillings replaced, because I was starting to get cavities around them, and showed me the pictures to "prove" it. She then handed me an estimate of $2k and told me to see the receptionist to schedule the appointment. I declined to make the appointment. Instead I made an appointment with my husband's cousin, who happens to be a dentist, though not as conveniently located.

I told him that I was getting a second opinion and explained why. He seemed really surprised. He poked at my teeth with his implements of torture and said there was no evidence of cavities anywhere, including around the fillings. Then he took x-rays of my teeth and showed them to me. He said, "Lisa, if you had cavities, they'd show up on these x-rays. A cavity is basically a hole in your enamel. There are no holes in your teeth."

I showed him the pictures, which looked like the surface of the moon. He reddened and said quite angrily, "She isn't practicing dentistry. This is a MARKETING tool to try to convince you that you need something that you don't. And people like this are giving honest dentists a bad name."

The first dentist actually had the audacity to call me and remind me to make my appointment to fill my cavities. I told the person that I wouldn't be returning. She asked why and I told her that I thought they were being dishonest at best and criminal at worst.

Fast forward a few months and I was at a party talking to a hygienist. Long story short, turned out that she used to work for the dishonest dentist and quit because they just started a new policy and all hygienists were expected to sell a certain dollar amount in "upgrades" (e.g. teeth whitenings) each month, and if they didn't they'd be let go.



I
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 05-16-2010, 03:31 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
PunditLisa brings up a great point about cameras. Some people also have very "deep grooves" in their back teeth (myself included), and the pulsing light sensors and the cameras make dark spots look like cavities. Any good dentist/hygienist should be doing the old fashioned "poke a sharp tool and see if it sticks" method to confirm if they suspect any cavities at all.

Last edited by lindsaybluth; 05-16-2010 at 03:32 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 05-16-2010, 06:53 PM
kbear kbear is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
I have the exact opposite problem. My dentist is so laid back and more than a little disdainful of what he considers a North American obsession with perfect teeth, I've sometimes worried he has missed something crucial.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 05-16-2010, 09:52 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
Creature of the Night
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 20,803
I've had a deep cleaning done. I had a lot of gum pain before it, and almost none afterwards. I think in my case, it was a necessary procedure. YMMV. I told the dentist that I was a complete chicken about these things, and asked for and received some numbing shots. I had to pay extra for them, but I considered them well worth it.

I really don't want to go through it again, though.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 05-17-2010, 10:53 AM
zweisamkeit zweisamkeit is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yarster View Post
Along these same lines, is the so called 'teeth cleaning' offered by the vet for your dog or cat a quasi-scam as well? Growing up, no vet I ever took our family pet to ever offered this service, but now they all push it. Apparently it involves giving the animal anesthetic and treating it like a surgery, which strikes me as horribly cruel to perform unless the animal is undergoing surgery for something else already. I say 'Quasi-scam' because I certainly don't think either of these things is going to hurt the animal (or person), but is it a complete waste of money relative to the amount of good it will do for the person/animal?
Why wouldn't it be good to have your dog's or cat's teeth cleaned? Especially since the majority of pet owners I know never even try to brush their pet's teeth.

No dental care at all can produce the same problems as in humans, including a shortened life span (infections can spread to elsewhere in the body, including the heart). "Just" because your pet isn't human doesn't mean you don't need to take care of them.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 05-17-2010, 12:38 PM
amaguri amaguri is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
I know I don't have the greatest teeth in the world, but I do brush with a sonic toothbrush 2x per day and I floss every GD day. It seemed like every time I went to the dentist, they found "something" that needed to be done. I've probably spent $6k-$7k over the past few years but somehow they still kept coming up with treatment plans for $1,000+. This is why people stop going to the dentist. I know the smarter plan of action is to find another, better dentist... but in the meantime, I just haven't been back in well over a year.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 05-17-2010, 01:52 PM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
This happened to me too. except it was 2 cavities, I was told...
I had a dentist who told me I had a cracked molar and seriously weakened filling that needed replacing and crowning immediately. One wrong chew and *bam* I would cause deep harm to my mouth.

I went to another for a 2nd opinion. She said the previous wasn't true, but did notice it is mercury and it will have to be replaced someday at my leisure. I had her fix it on the spot in an hour since it was covered.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 09-25-2013, 02:51 PM
sue1350 sue1350 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
deep cleaning

I go to my dentist every 6 months for a regular cleaning. new hygenist says oh there is a problem you need a deep cleaning. First of all I am not a good patient and even for general cleaning I am nervous. Now, of course I am freaking out. First of all the cost, and the procedure and if pain being off of work. I decided to get a second opinion which I am going for before I even do this. and after reading other peoples experiences I am glad I am going for a second opinion. I kept thinking of all the TMJ scams and needing bite guards because you grind your teeth and that is why you have migraines. It wasn;t and I spent a lot of money on that. What a scam. But getting a second opinion from another dentist that I know personally will make up my mind
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 09-25-2013, 03:22 PM
want2befree want2befree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Hate that I'm answering a zombie thread, but this issue has come up for me recently. I have had it done, and just charged it on my credit card, no big. But now that I dont' use them anymore and am trying to be budget conscious, I got one side done recently and realized it was like $350 out of pocket. Screw that! I called and cancelled for the other side, and of course they tell me, you really need to come back soon and get other side done. (the RECEPTIONIST told me this!!- WTF) Screw that, I'm good. If indeed I come back someday with a horrible case of gum disease, they can say I told you so.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 09-25-2013, 03:27 PM
Dogzilla Dogzilla is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
I'm deeply (ha!) suspicious of the "deep clean."

Speaking of shyster dentists, here an actual review of a dentist I went to, pasted from my Angie's List review:
Quote:
Back in November, I had an appointment with my former dentist, Dr. [name redacted]. That office was awesome about calling to remind me of appointments, so I sensed something was amiss when the day for my appointment came and I'd not received any reminder calls. Strange, I thought. So I call the office to confirm my appointment before driving across town. Dr. A[redacted]'s office answered and explained that my poor dentist had had a stroke and had sold his practice to Dr. A__. And would I like to make an appointment. I specifically ASKED, "Do you accept Delta Dental insurance? I have the Premier plan." "Oh, yes, we take Delta Dental!" replied the chirpy receptionist. Great, then, sign me up.

Yesterday, I show up for this initial appointment. Instead of collecting a copayment, as you do when you SAY you accept insurance, they pinged me for $65 for x-rays, dental exam, hygenist consultation. $20 of that was for a "Chairside Fee" whatever the h*** that is. I asked, again, "What happened to my $30 copay? Why are you charging me $65?" Another girl explained, itemized rather, what the $65 included, and when I handed over my credit card (a medical FSA card), that's when she informed me that there's also a $2 charge to use a credit card. Maybe they could have told me that before I showed up. Or explained how their office works when I made the appointment. Or maybe you could have said the actual words out loud, "WE DON'T ACCEPT DELTA DENTAL." That would have been nice.

First the x-rays: they use this hard plastic thing to put in your mouth, that looks like one of those key fob things you use to unlock your car. I have a tiny mouth, so when she asked me to bite down, the pain was excruciating. I asked if they had a child-sized one they could use on me. She laughed at me and said, No, we don't have one. I asked, "So you do this to CHILDREN?" Note: I didn't see many kids in there and the one I did see looked to be about early teenager. The films came out crap because I refused to bite down properly; it hurt too much and the tech had this I-don't-know-what-to-do-about-a-patient-in-pain deer-in-the-headlights look on her face (pretty much for the entire appointment).

Fast forward to the dental consult. After 3-4 years of seeing Dr. M___ every 4 months, Dr. A__ suddenly and magically finds six cavities and declares that my peridontal disease is so bad, they have to do a full-mouth deep clean,which I just had done about a year and a half ago at M__'s office. They wouldn't hear of it. What, so you're telling me that Dr. M__. missed all this in the last three years I've been seeing him? And his techs and hygenists were all crap, too? Nobody actually said that, but these people are less than direct with their communication styles, and it was certainly implied.

Hygenist comes back in and presents me with a treatment plan: Give us $1265 for the cavities and another $125 for the deep clean and then we'll talk about veneers to make your smile all pretty. "Wait (and I'm so stupid I still haven't clued in yet), why didn't you run this through my insurance company to see what they'll cover?" "Oh, well, we expect cash payment from you up front, then we will file the claim for you." This would have been a third excellent opportunity to say out loud, to the patient, "We don't actually take insurance." But that would be tantamount to owning up to unfair and deceptive business practices.

Newsflash to the chirpy chick who answers the phone over there at Dr. A__'s office: When someone asks you if your office accepts insurance, the correct, non-deceptive, non-bait-and-switch answer is, "NO. We don't. We expect cash payment up front and if your insurance doesn't reimburse you 100%, too bad, so sad, we get paid anyway." At no time, at any point in any conversation I had with anyone at this office, did anyone ever so much as suggest that they don't actually *take* insurance. They all acted like this was normal, all dental offices work exactly the same way, and I must be stupid to actually expect dental work for a measly $30 copay. They started pitching Care Credit and the hygenist actually begged to clean my teeth. I told them it made no sense whatsoever to pay full price up front for a dental service that is covered 100% by my insurance company. Why would I spend $125 when I could spend $30? Having to apply for Care Credit defeats the purpose of the medical FSA and the dental insurance. Then they asked if I wanted to make another appointment. I told them h*** no and also, would you hand over my chart so I can take it to the new dentist I'm about to search for. "Oh, there's a fee if we hand it to you. (Because that would be too convenient, right?) If we mail it to that office, there's no fee." So I signed the release form and left, determined not to pay another fee for nothing.

Why didn't I check Angie's list before my appointment and see this other report? Why didn't I check the Delta Dental website to ensure that Dr. A___ is one of the preferred providers? That was my mistake and totally on me. $65 is a small price to pay to find out the hard way that this office is all about making money and they don't care about you or your insurance at all. They make much, much more money collecting straight from patients than they would if they accepted referrals from dental insurance companies -- because the insurance companies negotiate the fees down to something more reasonable. I do not have that negotiation power as an individual, which is why I took dental insurance at open enrollment in the first place. It's a smart business decision on Dr. A__'s part, but really crappy customer service and even lousier patient care.

I liked the hygenist and would have enjoyed being worked on by her. She was gentle and seemed really cool. The x-ray and intake tech acted like I was an idiot for expecting to be operating on accurate information. All of my assumptions stemmed from the fact that, in my initial phone call, I was told that this office accepts my insurance. After that, it was one shock after another as they tried to nickel-and-dime me for services that would normally be covered had I actually checked to insure this was a preferred provider on my insurance company's list. Again, that was my mistake: I never should have believed the chirpy girl and I should have verified the information she gave me before I booked an appointment.

Unless you have a bunch of cash and you're willing to take this guy's word for it on your diagnosis (and this is the last dentist on earth and you have a raging abcess), I wouldn't recommend this office at all. There are lots of other dental offices all over town who are honest and up front about fees you're expected to pay, which insurance plans they accept, etc.
Note, I found another dentist within a few months and those six cavities? They didn't exist. The new dentist repaired a cracked filling and replaced one that had mostly fallen out. No deep cleaning was upsold to me.

When the shyster dentist did the charting (where they stick a stick into your gums and measure how bad the peridontal disease is -- 5 and 6 is bad and 1 or 2 is good), they got all 5s and 6s. When the new dentist did the exact same charting maybe four months later, it was all 1s and 2s. Nothing about my daily dental regimen changed in that time and six cavities didn't magically heal themselves.

Last edited by Dogzilla; 09-25-2013 at 03:31 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 09-25-2013, 07:53 PM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
I have finally found a great dental practice and I adore them all. Just a few weeks ago they sent me to see the root canal specialist because I've cracked a cap and there was something on the xray that made them think I'd need to have the root canal redone.

15 mins with him and he explained why they thought he needed to look at it but that everything was fine and to go ahead with the new cap.

Now if I could just conquer the fact that my ancestors lived forever but with teeth that crack when you eat anything harder than wonderbread life would be awesome.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 09-26-2013, 09:23 AM
ftg ftg is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Yet Another Warning Story About A Dentist Looking For $:

Many years ago, I saw a dentist a few times and at one point he pushed me hard to have my upper wisdom teeth pulled. That weren't coming in. He showed me the X-rays with the teeth clearly at a bad angle pushing against the molars. Since I wasn't in pain or anything, I didn't have it done.

Moved away soon after, got a new dentist. After a few visits I wondered why he hadn't said anything about my impacted wisdom teeth, so I finally asked. "What impacted wisdom teeth?" was his reply. Showed me the X-rays. Not at an angle at all. Just very slow coming in. (In fact, neither really did. I only had the 2nd one removed about a year ago. Over 25 years later.)

Yeah, the first guy was a fraud.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 09-26-2013, 04:23 PM
snowthx snowthx is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
I was offered one of these deep cleaning/root planning/scaling deals a few years ago. After my rather rough regular cleaning, the hygienist explained to me chairside about the deep cleaning. She then walked me over to the office manager's office where they sat me down and explained the payment plan since insurance was not going to cover it. It was like financing a car.

I got up and walked out explaining I needed a 2nd opinion. I got a real dentist after that and he never mentioned any deep cleaning as long as I was under his care.

If the procedure is needed to keep my mouth healthy, why is it not covered by most insurance plans? I agree just because it is not covered does not mean it is not needed, but still - the dentist recommending this ought to have a good answer for "why doesn't my insurance cover this?" when the patient asks "how much is this going to cost me?". If they do not have a good answer, walk.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 10-16-2014, 08:50 PM
jupiteruno jupiteruno is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Skeptical

Granted, my dental care was neglected once I lost my insurance 7 years ago, and I am aware some fillings fell out and some decay happened. But I'm almost 66 years old, my gums look fine, teeth are not loose at all, I have NO insurance and the dentist is pressing me for this deep scaling that will cost $900!!!! I think I'll get the fillings replaced, floss twice a day and forego the deep scaling!!!!
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 10-16-2014, 10:40 PM
Amberlei Amberlei is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
I went into a large national chain dental office for a routine cleaning a few years ago. They wouldn't do the cleaning, or even x-rays until I had deep-scaling done. I opted to forgo it and found another dentist. I mentioned the deep-scaling to him and he said I didn't need it. I've moved a few times since then and gone to three other dentists, and not once has one of them mentioned this. A friend of mine recently went to another branch of the same national chain that told me I needed deep-scaling done and go figure, this office told him the same thing. I would definitely get a second opinion before getting this treatment. I know there are times it's legitimately needed, but sometimes it really isn't.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 10-20-2014, 12:15 PM
jpfeiffe jpfeiffe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
just happened to me

Needed a new dentist, went in for xrays and a cleaning appt. I did know that I needed at some time to have "scaling" done, tartar below the gum line, however I wanted to get my teeth cleaned and then discuss the options of scheduling the scaling and insurance coverage and out of pocket cost. They do they xrays, and then it's time to have the cleaning, they say based on the xrays I do have tartar beneath the gum line, I acknowledge this and say I wanted to discuss my options after my cleaning, OH NO, we can't clean your teeth until after the scaling. Ok, am I confused here, isn't cleaning someone's teeth the basic and your telling me that until I schedule my scaling that you won't do a basic cleaning?? I got up and walked out. I have been going to the dentist my whole life, I'm almost 48 and until about 10 years ago this scaling and root planing were never a topic. My Mother is 71, has all her teeth and has never had either done or has ever had her dentist recommend either procedure. I think this is a new money maker, yes, maybe an advancement but are you telling me now you won't even do the basic service to help your patients. I think it's a sad day.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 10-20-2014, 08:07 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,029
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
If you have doubts go to another dentist for a 2nd opinion.
^ This.

I can not emphasize that enough.

I developed gum disease in my mid-20's and underwent a deep cleaning/scaling. It was very much needed, not a scam, and it halted the damage in its tracks. I learned my lesson and have much improved dental health these days (my current dentist jokes he makes no money off me).

In between the dentist who did the scaling and got my dental habits straightened out and my current dentist I encountered on that kept pushing-pushing-pushing procedures and seemed to conduct wallet/insurance biopsies on a regular basis. And yes, he was a big proponent of regular deep cleaning/scaling and basically tried to scare me into getting it.

Which prompted me to get a second opinion and become the patient of my current dentist.

You might indeed need the scaling. That can not be determined over the internet. You need to see a dentist in real life for that. Find a second dentist unconnected to the first and get that second opinion.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old Yesterday, 07:18 AM
LynnM LynnM is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Bijou Drains
"If you have doubts go to another dentist for a 2nd opinion."

Broomstick
"Which prompted me to get a second opinion and become the patient of my current dentist. [...] Find a second dentist unconnected to the first and get that second opinion."

Pardon my naive question--I've never done this--how do you go about getting a second opinion?

Does dental insurance typically pay the cost for getting a second opinion?

Do you tell the second dentist your visit is only for a second opinion? Does dentist then reduce or waive the cost? Or is it treated like a regular dental checkup, for which you pay normal cost?

Last edited by LynnM; Yesterday at 07:20 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old Yesterday, 07:33 AM
Ann Hedonia Ann Hedonia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by jupiteruno View Post
Granted, my dental care was neglected once I lost my insurance 7 years ago, and I am aware some fillings fell out and some decay happened. But I'm almost 66 years old, my gums look fine, teeth are not loose at all, I have NO insurance and the dentist is pressing me for this deep scaling that will cost $900!!!! I think I'll get the fillings replaced, floss twice a day and forego the deep scaling!!!!
If my dentist tried to charge me $900 for a scaling ( he doesn't call it deep-cleaning and I like it that he doesn't dumb things down ) I'd be skeptical too.

I had one ONCE on his recommendation - I've been a patient of his for over 10 years. But it cost $400 and this is an office located in Midtown Manhattan.

He's never recommended it since........even though I've asked if he thought I needed it done again. You'll think I'm crazy but even though I hate going to the dentist I LOVE deep cleanings.......it may hurt a little but it hurts in the same feel-good way that a good massage hurts...I call it the dental spa treatment.

Last edited by Ann Hedonia; Yesterday at 07:34 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old Yesterday, 07:45 AM
Sir T-Cups Sir T-Cups is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
This thread is very interesting to me and thanks for zombifying it.

I haven't had insurance for around 6 years now, and haven't been to a dentist because of it. I got a Groupon for a dentist who tells me I have 8 (I think it was 8...coulda been 9) cavities and gives me a "deal" to fix them for $22,000 or whatever stupid high number he gave me. Never did it cuz I never had the money, and since then I'm scared to go back.

Whenever hell freezes over and I get a job/insurance again I'm weargard(worried and eager) to go to a new dentist, not tell them my predicament, and see what their xrays say. This thread has given me a bit of piece of mind though.

Crooked dentists...whoda thought?
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old Yesterday, 01:58 PM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
I'm nice, dammit!
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Southern Merrylande
Posts: 28,653
We just recently changed dentists because my husband was very unhappy with the way they treated him. When I was looking for a new practice, I did a little research on line and came across this - very enlightening!! Everyone should read and heed!!
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old Yesterday, 05:38 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,029
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnM View Post
Pardon my naive question--I've never done this--how do you go about getting a second opinion?
Well, first you find another dentist...

Quote:
Does dental insurance typically pay the cost for getting a second opinion?
Not usually, no.

However, you can always ask if they'll do that. If you explain the situation they might approve it. Or they might not.

Quote:
Do you tell the second dentist your visit is only for a second opinion? Does dentist then reduce or waive the cost? Or is it treated like a regular dental checkup, for which you pay normal cost?
In my particular case I was explicit I was looking for a second opinion. I waited sufficient time (fending off calls from the pushy dentist for months) until my insurance would pay for the visit.

You can always ask for a reduced price... they worst he'll say is no, right? Then you have to decide if you'll pay out of pocket or not.

But, to my mind, paying $100 to make sure $5k or $10k of treatment is really required is a good trade. YMMV.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old Yesterday, 09:15 PM
jtur88 jtur88 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
I've only had my teeth cleaned twice in my life, and both times, I got an infected tooth within six months that had to be lpulled.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old Yesterday, 10:42 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Eastern Connecticut
Posts: 15,477
Quote:
Originally Posted by FairyChatMom View Post
Last place we lived, our dentist kept pushing some sort of sealant for our teeth. I declined. I'm 56, still have my own teeth, and I just have a few fillings - all this after avoiding a dentist for most of my 20s. Being broke takes care of a lot of "necessary" procedures.
Sweet Jebus, if that is the sealant they were working on back in the 70s at Eastman School in Rochester NY, fucking get it, do not stop, RUN! I was one of the test kids, and I have always had craptastic enamel even with the fluoride treatments and everything [I ended up with cavities no matter what] and the 2 years after I got them sealed I had absolutely no cavities or demineralization from acid at all.

Damn, I have never had it offered to me since ... I need to see if I can get it!
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old Yesterday, 11:35 PM
Erdosain Erdosain is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amberlei View Post
I went into a large national chain dental office for a routine cleaning a few years ago. They wouldn't do the cleaning, or even x-rays until I had deep-scaling done. I opted to forgo it and found another dentist. I mentioned the deep-scaling to him and he said I didn't need it. I've moved a few times since then and gone to three other dentists, and not once has one of them mentioned this. A friend of mine recently went to another branch of the same national chain that told me I needed deep-scaling done and go figure, this office told him the same thing. I would definitely get a second opinion before getting this treatment. I know there are times it's legitimately needed, but sometimes it really isn't.
I had almost this exact experience when I went to Aspen Dental for the first time. My regular dentist retired and I was dentist-less and I just needed a cleaning on a Saturday. Nope. No cleaning ever happened.

My experience was a little different because they did give me x-rays, a lot of x-rays. After what seemed like 18 or so I started to get nervous and tried to keep count. Anyway, they quickly declared that I needed scaling and furthermore that they absolutely could not give me a cleaning until months AFTER the scaling was completed, to prevent further infection or something. I was told a lot of scary numbers about my gums. Anyway, the thing that bothered me most was that 90% of my visit and dental planning was with the office manager. They trotted the dentist (clearly a recent grad in their 20s) out for about five minutes to declare that I needed scaling, but all the dental decisions were guided by the office manager.

I stuck around for one treatment (a hygienist scaled one quadrant and packed some sort of antibacterial powder under my gumline) and then found a local dentist practice. One with the actual dentist's name on the door. Surprise, surprise, I haven't heard another word about scaling and they actually give me a cleaning every six months. I really have serious misgivings about the ethical standards of national dental chains. There doesn't seem to be any accountability besides to their shareholders. I also think that any dentist worth his or her salt wouldn't work in a place where the actual dentists seem to have so little apparent authority or influence.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old Today, 10:04 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,856
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ichini Sanshigo View Post
ETA:

Also, just because your insurance carrier doesn't allow it doesn't mean it's not necessary. I handle insurance for our office, and I can tell you, coverage is all over the damn place. What gets covered depends on your carrier, as well as on your particular plan within the carrier. Perio stuff is sometimes covered under "preventive", and sometimes, basic, and I think I saw one plan that had it under major. Most plans will only cover two cleanings per year, but the thing with gum disease is that after your cleaning, the bacteria in your gums will have regenerated after 3 months (hence the checkups every 3-4 months instead of 6).

Really, your hygienist (dentist? who does your cleanings?) should have explained this. But, yeah, if you've got perio disease, it's not a scam.
My husband was told he had periodontitis and needed to have this done.

Insurance declined the extra cost, saying they didn't see evidence of enough perio disease. We tried fighting it but basically they ignored the appeal and we didn't have the energy to push.

So since then, when he gets a perio cleaning (or some other perio treatment; he's had gum and bone grafts) they decline THOSE because he has no history of perio disease.

The lack of history is, of course, because their records show they've never paid for such treatment in the past. Because they declined to pay for it that first time. Nice scam.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:47 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.