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So I think a dentist is ripping me off, need adviseFollow

#1 Dec 23 2011 at 10:08 PM Rating: Decent
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Forgive me for the long post, but I still can't get over what this dentist did to me.

So I went to the dentist the other day for a small cavity to be filled in and it turned out a whole lot worse.

I spent probably 30 minutes of them grinding at the tooth trying to fix it and I think they probably did this on purpose. I had absolutely no pain in the tooth what so ever but they explained to me that my back molar was basically dead. I was in pain and was shaking a little from the pain after all the grinding they did..

They said this tooth needs a root canal and a crown as soon as possible or you risk a jaw infection and all of these complications. I take good care of my teeth by brushing twice a day with the best toothpaste all in one crest, the only thing I don’t do is floss.

They explained to me my father in the waiting room (his job has better dental insurance then I do) about the prices but did not tell me (I am 22 years old..). They went ahead and picked the nerve out so the tooth would die, and filled it with some kind of temporary stuff so I could come back in and have the root canal.

Now here’s the problem.. I never knew the cost of a root canal could be 1,700 usd. This is really weird because my dad’s insurance wont mix with mine and he only had around 1,630 usd left for this. The bad part is his insurance “resets” in June.

This makes me think they took a perfectly healthy tooth, messed it up by grinding half of it away, picking the nerve out to make it die, and filling it with some temporary stuff. They didn’t tell me the price *before* supposable grinding *half* of my tooth away exposing the nerve, and there was no turning back they said.

I think they are just sucking my father’s insurance dry because they think it resets after a new year.. and it doesn’t.

Long story short, I am going to have the molar pulled and live without a molar for the rest of my life because I think these dentists are greedy and are sucking money from our insurance. I will probably switch dentists too because they *didn’t* give us the chance for a second opinion BEFORE exposing the nerve.

Another bad part is they *Just* spotted this while cleaning my teeth a week ago saying it is a VERY SMALL cavity that will takes about 20 minutes to fix. Not any more, it magically turned into a root canal which I am not having done and I’m having it pulled for only 80 usd.

Do you think these dentists are fair by not telling me the price after grinding and exposing my nerve then later picking it out?! I honestly wanted a second opinion but was “shunned” from leaving.
#2 Dec 23 2011 at 11:26 PM Rating: Good
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They explained the costs to your father then did the prep for the procedure? If you are using your father's insurance, it's not surprising they explained the costs to him. You are technically his dependent as far as the insurance is concerned.

Also, realize that brushing is only part of a solution to a much more complex problem. Teeth erode over time--it's just part of what they do. And brushing doesn't always help there--it can actually damage your teeth more if done improperly (brushing for too long, brushing immediately before/after you eat something acidic).

Also, flossing is important. I say that as someone who almost never remembers to do it. But it really, really is--your toothbrush can't get between teeth.

A root canal can be required for one of two reasons, generally speaking. The tooth is badly decayed, or it is infected. A cavity opens a tooth to infection; doesn't matter if it is small or large.

And you are confused. They don't remove the nerve to kill the tooth. The nerve really doesn't do much but detect hot or cold--removing it will have no adverse affects on the actual tooth. If the tooth "died," it's because the tooth was dying, most likely because it was infected with something.

And teeth showing no outward signs of decay/infection are not that uncommon actually. Most will cause pain or swelling, but plenty cause neither. This is especially true if found early.

I don't think your dentist is cheating you. Nothing about this is out of place. They spoke to the policy holder about the pricing (because you realistically shouldn't have had any say in whether or not it was okay), and nothing suggests malconduct.

Did they take xrays on the first visit?
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#3 Dec 24 2011 at 2:33 AM Rating: Decent
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They did take xrays on the first visit and saw nothing wrong.

They also said the cavity was very very small but since I am young I have a big nerve and it basically was deep enough to get it. They said I should have fault intense pain to probably put me on the floor.. but I don't see how because I haven't felt pain in the tooth what so ever.

I could feel cold from eating icecream, hot from eating soup. Nothing was wrong with it from my point of view at all.
#4 Dec 24 2011 at 2:36 AM Rating: Good
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Have you tried discussing this with your dad? Since he's the primary on the insurance, he'd be the one to bring it to the attention of your insurance company if something was shady about the whole deal.
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#5 Dec 24 2011 at 7:18 AM Rating: Excellent
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He should have pulled all your teeth. That way you can gum your food.
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#6 Dec 24 2011 at 12:02 PM Rating: Excellent
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Sounds like what they did was a "pulp cap" and that is actually a standard dental procedure for teeth that will need a root canal in the future. I had that done once at age 21. About five years later, the tooth went nuclear and I had an abscess that was so bad I had a visible lump on my jaw. That is what they are trying to prevent - that kind of abscess can kill you.

I'm the veteran of a dozen root canals and I have five more to go. $1700-$2000 should be the total cost of the ENTIRE package, from root canal to crown, so if that's what they quoted you, that's about right. Root canals for molars take about an hour, and the dentist has to do some really tricky, delicate things. They'll have an electrode attached to a pick, and they'll keep probing until they don't detect any more nerve tissue at all. Then they'll fill it up with rubber, seal it back up, and then re-grind it back down so they can put a crown on it. A properly done root canal and crown lasts, on average, 10-20 years, at which point they'll either redo the root canal or suggest implants or bridges instead.

Something else: My dentist has me sign a disclaimer every time they start treatment that says "This is what we plan to do, but we might discover we're wrong and we need to go do other things." Your father probably signed such a thing.

You also have a right to view the X-Rays yourself. Most modern dental offices uses digital X-rays, and the software they use should have it immediately accessible and available to the patient and the dentist while they work. (My dentist uses Eaglesoft, a rather annoying program to support from an IT perspective, but a very cool program to witness in action.)

Edited, Dec 24th 2011 1:22pm by catwho
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#7 Dec 25 2011 at 8:56 AM Rating: Excellent
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Also, many/most insurance only covers 50% on the root canal and cap versus 80% on standard fillings. If they're using the full $1600 from insurance and leaving you with a couple hundred dollar bill, consider yourself lucky. If they're taking $1600 from insurance and charging you $1600 as well, find a different dentist to finish the operation.

You can live without the molar but your other teeth will shift over time. This can complicate things should you ever decide to get an implant or bridge for the missing tooth.
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#8 Dec 26 2011 at 5:26 AM Rating: Good
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My Dentist asked me if I wanted to continue or just pull it when I had one that started looking like it was going to need a root canal. I don't really have to worry about shifting teeth now. I will most likely get all but one of them up top and a couple on bottom pulled just to keep the bone from shrinking.
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#9 Dec 26 2011 at 6:14 AM Rating: Good
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RavennofTitan wrote:
I will most likely get all but one of them up top and a couple on bottom pulled just to keep the bone from shrinking.


So you'll have 3 or so teeth total?
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#10 Dec 26 2011 at 10:17 AM Rating: Good
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Jophiel wrote:
Also, many/most insurance only covers 50% on the root canal and cap versus 80% on standard fillings. If they're using the full $1600 from insurance and leaving you with a couple hundred dollar bill, consider yourself lucky. If they're taking $1600 from insurance and charging you $1600 as well, find a different dentist to finish the operation.

You can live without the molar but your other teeth will shift over time. This can complicate things should you ever decide to get an implant or bridge for the missing tooth.


If it's the very back molar, you may end up like me and have one of your wisdom teeth decide to erupt and replace it as well. My dentist was astonished; it's not unheard of, but it's quite rare. Unfortunately, the bottom wisdom tooth is still firmly embedded in the back. Positive: It's preventing the teeth on that side from shifting back since the backmost molar was extracted. Negative: It will still need to be surgically removed someday, at which point I'll need to have an implant put in immediately to prevent the aforementioned shifting.

Still, it's nice that my otherwise totally useless wisdom tooth swooped in like a spare tire, and it didn't cost me a penny.
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#11 Dec 28 2011 at 6:47 PM Rating: Decent
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I know dental work is expensive and they will always tell you the "Safest" course of action. IF they told you not to worry about it and something happened they might feel like you would come sue them (and with the goofy US court system one would prob win).

OT abit but Flossing is very important. IF you have are like me and hate floss buy those Plackers. They advertise themselves as being made from the same material bullet-proof vests are made from. They fit between the tightest of teeth and are good if you have big hands or just clumsy (again like myself).

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#12 Dec 28 2011 at 8:44 PM Rating: Good
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fronglo wrote:
I know dental work is expensive and they will always tell you the "Safest" course of action. IF they told you not to worry about it and something happened they might feel like you would come sue them (and with the goofy US court system one would prob win).

OT abit but Flossing is very important. IF you have are like me and hate floss buy those Plackers. They advertise themselves as being made from the same material bullet-proof vests are made from. They fit between the tightest of teeth and are good if you have big hands or just clumsy (again like myself).



I use those plucker things. They make it a lot easier, I remember as a kid the hardest part about flossing with string was getting your other finger back in your mouth to reach your back teeth. The plastic holder makes that a ton easier. From what I've read dentists say it's not as good as the real thing, but anything is better than nothing.

I think as long as you use them right you can get down in your teeth pretty good. I can get them down under the gum line pretty deep, just as deep as normal flossing.
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