In the June 2021 edition of Consumers’ Checkbook magazine and website, an article entitled “65 Things You Probably Shouldn’t Pay For… This text opens a new tab to the article…” stated the following:
“Be suspicious if a new dentist recommends far more treatment than your previous one—for instance, if suddenly many fillings need to be replaced, several teeth need to be crowned, or your gums need extensive surgery. This is an area where we receive frequent complaints in our surveys of patients.
To help you decide on a treatment, your dentist should fully describe the condition of your mouth and all treatment options, including those that might cost less. If a dentist recommends extensive treatment, get a second opinion.”
The following are suggestions to help you avoid excessive or undesired treatment.
Use these suggestions to help you get the highest quality dental care.
When to get a second opinion on dental work
1. The number one warning sign is when you sit in a dentist’s chair for the first time and are told you need procedures you have never needed before.
If you rarely have cavities and are told that you need quite a few fillings at your first appointment, I suggest you see it as a red flag.
2. A common pattern is dentists who use a deeply discounted dental hygiene appointment and checkup to get you in the door. Once you are in the chair, you may be hit with thousands of dollars of work that you did not anticipate. Ask a lot of questions.
3. If you’re diagnosed as needing to replace old fillings, ask for pictures and x-rays. Some dentists try to replace all of your fillings simply because they’re older fillings. This is not necessary if they’re not causing problems.
Certainly, there are old fillings that can crack or become surrounded by decay, necessitating a replacement. Still, a dentist should be able to present to you intra-oral pictures and x-rays, which show the need for replacing fillings.
Some people fear mercury in silver-colored fillings. The American Dental Association states on their popular informative guide to dental health, MouthHealthy… This text opens a new tab to the MouthHealthy website…:
“Although dental amalgam is a safe, commonly used dental material, you may wonder about its mercury content. It’s important to know that when combined with the other metals, it forms a safe, stable material. Be assured that credible scientific studies affirm the safety of dental amalgam. Study after study shows amalgam is safe and effective for filling cavities. The American Dental Association… This text opens a new tab to the ADA website…, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization all agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material. The Alzheimer’s Association… This text opens a new tab to the Alzheimer’s Association website…, American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society of America and National Multiple Sclerosis Society… This text opens a new tab to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website…—all science-based organizations like the ADA—also say that amalgam poses no health risk. As with any dental work, you’ll always want to talk with your dentist about your individual situation in order to make the most well-informed choice.”
4. Does your dentist clearly communicate with you about any treatment suggested and why it is necessary? Do you feel rushed or welcome to talk about findings?
5. Are you in a no-judgment office? Do not be intimidated if you have neglected to get dental care. You have the right to expect all dental team members to make you feel comfortable and be attentive and supportive.
What’s important is that you want your dental needs attended to now. Do not settle for any guilt, judgments, or intimidating remarks from any dental team member.
6. It’s a red flag if you are sitting in a waiting room for 45 minutes or longer and then taken to a treatment room and you wait another 45 minutes or longer.
I’d be concerned that the office is overbooking to maximize profit and not treating patients with respect due.
If this happens once or twice because of emergencies, it’s understandable. If it’s oftentimes, I wouldn’t want to go to a practice that overbooks consistently.
7. A dentist you can trust should be comfortable if you express that you want a second opinion. Your dentist should not hesitate to forward x-rays to another dentist.
We would always agree to do so at The Silberman Dental Group. It’s our standard of practice to give no-cost second opinions.
If we agree with the treatment plan presented to you when you come in for a second opinion, we’ll absolutely advise you to return to the practitioner you first went to. We have sent people back to see the first dentist who recommended treatment on numerous occasions.
Dr. Paul Silberman and Dr. Daniel Barakh have expressed they personally enjoy serving as a second opinion and then returning patients to their original dentist. Knowing the patient feels good because they are reassured that their treatment plan is needed feels gratifying to each of them.
In our office, we recommend you do one of two things if you want a second opinion. Either:
- Come in with your treatment plan and directly ask our opinion.
- Do not show us your treatment plan. Hang onto what was suggested at another office and compare it to what our treatment plan is. Then you decide once you have compared and asked questions.
8. You can research the dentist online. Read reviews and see how the dental practice responds to both praise and criticism.
A negative review does not mean the practice doesn’t have integrity because you don’t know the private details regarding a patient.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPPA, ensures confidentiality and greatly limits what can be said about a specific patient.
A dentist’s response to a negative review might convince you to see that dentist because of the general details given as well as the concern and poise shown in the response.
If you choose to look at reviews, consider the number of reviews. Is the dental practice ranked as five stars with only three reviews, or is it a dental practice with 4 or five stars with many reviews?
You can never make everyone happy, so I want to see a dentist with high rankings and quite a lot of reviews.
Are the patients giving details in the positive reviews letting the reader know why they feel comfortable in the practice?
9. Is your dentist giving you more than one option? There certainly are times when there is not an option. Ask for alternatives and why one treatment would be better than another.
There will be times when a dentist gives more than one option.
Perhaps an implant is the best option. However, if you cannot afford an implant, there is likely another option, such as a fixed bridge or a partial denture.
Remember that a root canal and the subsequent crown needed after a root canal is more lucrative and easy to pass by an insurance company if the dentist claims the patient was in pain, even if a filling would have done the job.
It may be well worth the time and effort you put into getting a second opinion to be sure you’re getting the appropriate dental treatment plan. Even a third opinion is sometimes a good idea.
10. When you leave a dental office, are you told that you’re welcome to call if there are questions? Are you clear about what needs to be done step by step?
At The Silberman Dental Group, we offer a no-cost follow-up after your consultation via a virtual visit with the dentist or a phone call from our dentists. We do this so that we can further explain whatever questions a patient might have. It’s no bother.
As Dr. Barakh explains,
“We’re thrilled you have taken an interest in your oral health and want to understand fully the options available to you!”
11. Insurance plans put incentives in place for in-network dentists. When dentists become part of these networks, they agree to extremely low reimbursements in exchange for a steady stream of patients.
Some dental practices, particularly large dental chains or franchise offices, use deals as a way to get patients in the door and then may give expensive treatment plans. Or the practice may heavily promote cosmetic work.
It can be more expensive to go to a dentist who participates with your insurance network because of additional work suggested than going to a dentist you know gives you an accurate diagnosis.
12. It may be a red flag if a patient in their late 70s or older goes to a dental practice that gives an extensive treatment plan, including Invisalign (orthodontic treatment).
If that person has not benefited from orthodontic work all these years, it’s doubtful that Invisalign should be proposed. We know many seniors who have much vitality and enjoy an active lifestyle and would think that pressure to get orthodontic work is just unnecessary and might be a red flag.
13. Our office no longer participates in network with a few insurance companies because Dr. Silberman and Dr. Barakh oftentimes felt the person making a decision about whether to pay for treatment was thinking only about profit for the insurance company and not about what was in the best interest of the patient. They will not be dictated to by people hired to make a profit for the insurance company.
Examples include a patient who wanted fixed bridge work. The insurance policy covered fixed bridge work. However, the insurance would only pay for a partial denture that comes in and out and is not as comfortable as a fixed bridge. Forcing the patient to have a partial denture instead of fixed bridgework would be much more profitable for the insurance though not best for our patient.
Another example is patients want white fillings, and some insurance companies will only pay for silver fillings on back teeth. They haven’t been teaching how to place a silver filling in dental schools for at least 20 years. Many newer offices don’t even have the silver in stock. It’s absurd that modern resin white fillings are not approved by the insurance company when it is considered the standard of care by The American Dental Association.
14. Modern technology makes dentistry more precise and comfortable than ever before. If you are experiencing a dentist who is rough or dental treatment that’s exceptionally painful, it may be a red flag.
15. Many offices that are open six to seven days a week hire young dentists who tend to leave after a short time. They’re likely fine dentists but don’t like working on quotas or may dislike the management style of large corporate and/or franchised dental practices.
If you are going to a dental practice that seems to have dentists and employees leave often, it may be a red flag.
16. How do you feel about the team working with the dentist you’re seeing? Does it seem as though the team works well together? Are team members smiling or looking like they cannot wait to finish their workday?
We know that our team chose a helping profession and respect them for doing so. They can make a huge difference in our patients’ lives, helping them have positive attitudes about dental treatment and positive outcomes.
At The Silberman Dental Group, our team members know our dentists and office administrator respects them and wants the office to be an upbeat, positive environment. When we hire professionals and stress excellence, we’re helping to make dentistry a lot less scary.
Do you need a dentist’s second opinion?
Most dentists are honest and hardworking. Their values drive their decisions for their dental practice.
It’s not our intent to suggest that you’re being overdiagnosed; it’s only our desire to help you know when to seek a second opinion and when to trust your gut that there are some red flags for you to consider.
Dr. Silberman recently had a patient who went to another dental practice because we no longer were in network with his insurance company. The patient expressed feeling foolish for allowing the other dentist from a different practice to do some work.
This is not about intellect. It’s about a betrayal of trust!
Dentistry is not scary! What is scary is having an unhealthy smile because the health of your mouth impacts your general health.
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Our dentists are located in Waldorf, MD and see patients from across the state, including Charlotte Hall, White Plains, La Plata, Brandywine, Accokeek, and Mechanicsville.