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Don't get me started about dentists…

moneylogo040411_optBY WARREN BOROSON
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
BOROSON ON MONEY

Years ago, a young dentist in Hawthorne who had bought the practice from my regular dentist, who was retiring, proceeded to cap several of the teeth in my mouth — without explaining what she was doing. When I asked her what all this work would cost, she didn’t answer. Cost: $3,000. (She was eager to raise money to cover her purchase of the practice.)

Another dentist I saw, just a month ago in Hackensack, after examining my teeth, said that I should have four of them capped. I guess that’s the four teeth I still have left that have not yet been capped.

I suspect that a lot of people are complaining about their dentists these days – and a lot of people are avoiding dental visits because of the cost. And all this began when fluoridation reduced the number of cavities that people normally get. That forced dentists to raise their fees – and to perform unnecessary procedures, like whitening people’s teeth and capping every tooth in sight.

Consumer Reports, by coincidence, has a critical article about dentists in its February issue.

While most of its readers are content with their dentists,

  •  “Cost was the No. 1 reason they delayed dental care.”
  •  “Some patients might be paying for cosmetic treatments they don’t need.”

A dental consultant told the magazine that some practice-management courses “train dentists to push cosmetic treatments to boost their bottom line.”

Even procedures not intended to simply improve appearance can be overused, the magazine went on, especially when a dentist is paid by procedure. “There is an economic incentive to do something rather than nothing,” said a dental research professor.

Some procedures to be skeptical about:

Teeth whitening. Yellowish teeth are probably okay. And people who bleached their teeth at home were more satisfied than those who had their teeth whitened in a dentist’s office – and paid less. “Our tests found that whitening strips produce the best results.”

Replacing fillings. Some dentists are in the habit of replacing mercury amalgam fillings with a composite fillings solely for appearance’s sake. But, the magazine warned, every time you replace a filling, you lose more tooth structure. And composite fillings aren’t as strong or durable. And while amalgam fillings contain mercury, the mercury has not been linked to health problems.



 
Comments (3)
3 Tuesday, 07 February 2012 12:02
Marie Flowers
If you want to save money and your teeth in dentistry, one should avoid having the amalgam mercury fillings placed from the very beginning. One third of the tooth structure has to be removed in order to place amalgam fillings. This leads to expensive dental work later, like crowns, after the metal material expands and contracts causing hairline cracks in the tooth.

Years ago the composite materials may have been inferior but today many holistic cosmetic dentists never use anything but composite and they do hold up. Composite materials will strengthen the tooth structure and unnecessary tooth material does not need to be removed.

METAL crowns may cause severe allergic reactions in some people, according to the research of the Melisa Foundation who test people for allergies to metals. Amalgam is also a metal that is one half mercury.
2 Tuesday, 07 February 2012 02:44
Warren Boroson
My own bad experiences have been with more than 2 dentists--and I've heard about bad experiences from people I know. Unnecessary procedures, unjustified high expenses.

The Consumer Reports article CERTAINLY said something about dentists. Some of them do procedures they are not qualified to do, and some of them are motivated by money to perform unnecessary procedures.

Vacations are postponable; dentistry is not. I'm surprised that you don't know this. By postponing a visit to a qualified, ethical dentist, you can lose teeth and undermine your overall health. Whereas it's not important whether you go to (say) France this year or next.

If car owners pay for car treatments they don't need, I would blame the people who run the car-repair shops. And if patients pay for dental work they don't need, I would blame the dentists.

By the way, the article also said that patients who do their own teeth whitening pay less--and the job is done better.
1 Monday, 06 February 2012 12:59
Red Rock Dental - Parisa Safaei DMD
It's too bad about your dissatisfaction with two dentists. Yet the article can hardly rest in its criticism of "dentists" just on your two experiences.

Btw, the Consumer Reports results you cite do NOT say anything about dentists per se.

If "Cost was the main reason they delayed VACATIONS" would you blame travel agents? Or airlines?

If “Some CAR OWNERS might be paying for car treatments they don’t need” would you blame the young man who details cars? Who NEEDS teeth whitening vs who WANTS teeth whitening? Lots of patients know they don't need dental treatments they get anyway for vanity's sake!

Please!

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