Digital Photos in the Dentist's Office

I am worried that I am being…up-sold (ripped off?) on some dental work that needs to be done.

Some background: I haven’t had a regular dentist in a very long time due to moving around a bit, and I recently went to a dentist that I have never used before because I was experiencing pain on #3 when chewing. This dentist had a brand new office with equipment that is higher end than I have seen at a dentist before (Cerec, digital x-rays, etc.) and the dentist was very friendly and personable.

This tooth already had an old root canal which had silver points, so the tooth had to be retreated, along with #2 which was also bad. The bottom line and good news is that #2 and #3 are done, a temporary crown is installed, and gold crowns are being fabricated right now, and everything has been paid for. The bad news is that my insurance has been depleted - no more left for this year – and I still must have a bridge installed (I recently had #19 extracted), which I’ll have to pay out of my own pocket.

After this work was done, I had a light (ultrasonic) cleaning and periodontal evaluation, including a full set of x-rays and complete digital photos of all of my teeth. The dentist spent quite some time explaining his plan for future treatment and he wants to perform and additional $12,000 (!) more work.
During his presentation, he stated that some of my teeth were decayed around old filings and said that these filings would have to be removed and redone, but he was showing me the photos, not the x-rays, to illustrate his point.

If a dentist takes digital photographs and x-rays of my teeth, is there ever any condition of decay that would be diagnosed by examination of the photos, and NOT the x-rays? Does decay severe enough to be treated always show up on the x-rays?

I post a lot on a photography website and we often get dentists posting questions about the best way to shoot people’s teeth. So at least it’s a fairly common tool in the craft.

I would guess that this is just something your dentist is doing because laymen very rarely understand what they’re looking at when you show them an X-ray.

You may also want to ask the Dentist what must be done this year, and what can be put off to later years when you have more dental insurance available.