Monday, October 13, 2014

Your dentist may be ripping you off. Here's how to avoid that.

There's an invisible problem in dentistry: some dentists using "creative diagnosis" to perform unnecessary work in the interest of making extra money.

There isn't hard data on how often this occurs, but it's clear that it's an issue — as highlighted by an op-ed by a dentist in American Dental Association News and recent coverage in Mother Jones. Due to a few different factors — a lack of oversight, rising debt incurred during dental school, and the rise of quota-driven corporate dental chains — there's a decent chance that you might visit a dentist who's making decisions based on profit, not the work you really need.

A couple months ago, I interviewed eight dentists for tips on how to avoid this sort of thing. Here are some highlights.

1) You probably don't need all your fillings ripped out and replaced

Oftentimes, someone visiting a new (and unscrupulous) dentist will be told that he or she needs a ton of work done. Frequently, this involves ripping out all existing fillings and replacing them with new ones.

But the dentists I interviewed told me that you should doubt any new dentist that prescribes a ton of work, unless you're going in due to pain. And though fillings do crack and decay over time, you rarely need all of them replaced at once. Some will claim that old silver fillings need to be removed for safety reasons — specifically, because they leech mercury — but that idea is a total myth.

For the rest of the story:

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