Category Archives: Affordable Dentist

One-Day Versus Traditional Crowns?

I need to get a dental crown but am a bit short on money. I’ve been looking at both traditional crowns and those one-day crowns. I’m hoping the one day crowns are less expensive because they only take one appointment, but it is for a front tooth, so I want to make sure the one-day crowns are just as good as the old-fashioned ones.

Sara


Dear Sara,

Dental crown being placed on a tooth

I’m glad you wrote. The truth is that both a traditional crown as well as a CEREC crown will cost about the same amount. Yes, it is true that the CEREC crown takes only one appointment as opposed to the traditional crown, however the CEREC machine costs a dentist about $150,000. That is a huge expense to cover, so dentists will generally spread that out in the cost of the crowns.

The quality of the crowns is about the same either way. However, because you are needing this crown on a front tooth, I highly recommend that you get a traditional crown. Same day crowns are milled out of a single block of porcelain. Our natural teeth have variations in their color and opacity. That is why with traditional crowns dentists use more than one block of porcelain so they can get all those subtle differences in there.

This doesn’t mean you still can’t get an affordable dental crown. The key, however, is not in the type of crown as much as the dentist that makes the difference in the price. If you are looking for an affordable dental crown, I would look for an affordable dentist. They are much more likely to have reasonable prices, as well as allow you to make payments instead of paying for everything up front. You can generally find them by doing an internet search for the term “affordable dentist”. I hope this helps.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Can’t Afford What Dentist is Insisting On

I am losing two teeth. My dentist is insisting I get dental implants to replace them, but I honestly cannot afford that. He told me that if I don’t get dental implants, I would need to find another dentist. What do I do?

Fanny


Dear Fanny,

A comparison of a dental bridge next to a dental implant

I don’t like it when dentists give patients ultimatums like this. While, yes, dental implants are the best treatment for a missing tooth, not everyone can afford the top of the line. There are other, perfectly acceptable options to replace your tooth. In fact, your dentist is ethically obligated to give you all of your options. If he wants you to go to another dentist, I would oblige him.

If you can’t afford a dental implant, the next best option would be to get a dental bridge. This would require placing a dental crown on the two adjacent teeth and suspending a false tooth between them.

If even that is too much money for you, then you can look at a removable partial denture.

My suggestion is you look for someone who advertises as an affordable dentist. They are generally much more understanding about things like budgets. Some of them even have payment plan options to help you get the procedure you need.

I am sorry this happened to you. However, I am hopeful with a more compassionate dentist, you can get the care you need without having ultimatums placed on you.

There are plenty of great dentists out there. Don’t limit yourself to the one who cares more about his bank account than yours.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

How Do I Get My Money Back If the Dentist Never Did the Work?

I went to an “affordable” dentist. He had a service for payment plans through something called Care Credit. I am now wondering if it is a scam. I have already paid off Care Credit. The dentist, however, did a different procedure than was paid for. The procedure was less expensive. When I mentioned the difference in cost, he said he’d give me office credit for the rest. But, I don’t want office credit. I have bills to pay and want my own money back. Do you have recommendations on how to get it?

Fleur


Dear Fleur,

An image of a Care Credit card.

I’ll start with Care Credit. It is a legitimate business and would likely not approve of the ethics your dentist used. In fact, they pay the dentist in full up front and take all the risk of you paying them back.

What your dentist did was unethical and you should get a refund of the difference between what you paid for and what service he provided you immediately. I’m also a bit concerned that, based on how it was worded above, you had to point out the price difference to your dentist. If this is true, then I highly recommend that you find a new dentist.

You can have both an affordable dentist as well as an ethical dentist. However, let’s focus on your refund. I would start by confronting him. If that doesn’t work, let him know that you will be contacting the dental board.

Those on the dental board can completely derail his career so that should perk his ears up. An additional step to take would be to write some online reviews on Yelp! and Google Reviews. About two-thirds of patients who are looking for a new dentist will check online reviews before deciding.

I’m sorry this happened to you.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

I Just THOUGHT Dental Implants Were Too Expensive

About 20 years ago, I ended up getting dentures. My dentist mentioned dental implants but they were so expensive I just went ahead and got the dentures. I’ve been miserable with these dentures ever since. It’s hard to eat and, even when I do eat, the food gets underneath everything. Then, it got to the point where they would not even stay in my mouth. I went back to the dentist and he told me that I don’t have a lower ridge in my jawbone any more and my denture won’t stay in unless I have a special surgery to fix that and then have a new denture made. Here’s what I’m wondering. What happened to my lower ridge? Is this typical? Should I have been warned about it? Is it too late for me to get dental implants?

Carol


Dear Carol,

before and after facial collapse
Before and after facial collapse

I am sorry this is happening to you. What happened to your lower ridge is known in dental circles as facial collapse. When your teeth were removed, your body recognizes that and resorbs the minerals in your jawbone that are no longer needed to help retain your teeth. Unfortunately, while efficient, this does shrink your jawbone.

This is something that will happen to everyone who wears completely removable dentures. In that sense it is typical. And, yes, you should have been warned about this.

The good news is that it is not too late for you to get dental implants. You will still need the bone grafting surgery because dental implants need bone to support the prosthetic roots. After that, however, you will be good to get your dental implants.

Affordable dentistry is a tricky thing. While you can find a dentist with more afforadble prices, be careful you are not just going to a cheap dentist. If they’re way lower than every other dentist there is usually a reason, such as they are cutting corners, which puts the patient at risk, or they are just so bad at their job they need to have super low prices in order to attract new patients.

The same balance is true in regular oral health care. For example, it is initially cheaper to not get a filling when the decay is small, but as the cavity grows it becomes more expensive. If it gets beyond a certain size, then you need an expensive dental crown or an infection sets in and you need both a root canal treatment and a dental crown. Many compassionate dentists are willing to work with patients on payment plans when they can’t afford care they need.

I’m sorry this has happened to you.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

I Hate My Smile but Have No Money to Fix It

I never got to go to the dentist growing up. My teeth are mostly healthy, though there is one cavity I haven’t taken care of yet. My bigger problem is how my smile looks. These days, everyone is expected to have a celebrity smile and I feel like some kind of imp that needs to hide in a cave.

I priced porcelain veneers, which is what everyone says is the procedure for smile makeovers. The cost is astronomical. If I owned a house, I’d have to sell it. Is there any affordable way to get a pretty smile?

Amanda

Dear Amanda,

Teeth whitening trays
Teeth Whitening Trays

While porcelain veneers are a fantastic way to improve the appearance of your smile. One of the best and most affordable things you can do to improve your smile is with teeth whitening. It can make you look decades younger (though I do not know your age). It generally only costs a few hundred dollars as opposed to the thousands of dollars needed for porcelain veneers.

It is also one of those procedures that does not require any special post-doctoral training. Pretty much any dentist can do it. That also means you can shop around and find the most affordable dentist in your area to do it. Just be sure to do it right after having a check up and cleaning. Otherwise the results will be splotchy. Most dentists require a cleaning for that reason.

I want to also address the cavity you mentioned. If you are trying to save money, taking care of this cavity right away with a dental filling is the best way to do that. Filling a cavity costs significantly less than letting it grow and need a dental crown. If it gets beyond the need for a crown, then you have to extract the tooth and pay for a tooth replacement. The most affordable dentistry is preventive dentistry.

The last thing you want is for this to turn into a dental emergency.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Affordable Options for Securing a Lower Denture

Hi, I’ve got problems and I’d love answers. I’ve had dentures for over five years, and my lower one drives me up a wall! It floats around, clacks whenever I eat or talk, and never feels tight or stays put. I have to use adhesive every single day to be able to bear it. The upper one is fine, and I like the way they look, but I just can’t stand the looseness of the lower one any longer.

I can’t afford implants, but I was told by a friend that there may be other, more affordable methods of securing my lower denture, she said her dentist was talking about them. So is this true? What are my options?

Help,
Dennis

Dear Dennis,

Mini Implant compared with a traditional dental implant

Sorry to hear your lower denture is giving you such a difficult time! It sounds frustrating. Glad your upper plate is doing well. While conventional implants can be costly, your friend may have been correct: you likely have other more affordable dental options.

Why Don’t Lower Complete Dentures Fit As Well As Uppers?

Many patients wonder why their lower complete denture is looser than or doesn’t seem to fit as well as their upper. This is common and is due to your bone levels. When teeth are extracted, a ridge of alveolar bone is left behind. That’s what your dentures are fit to. This ridge acts as retention for your denture. The upper denture is fabricated to fit over this ridge, around the arch, and across most of the roof of the mouth. This extra span against the palate gives the upper denture “suction”, which holds it tightly in place.

The lower denture does not have this extra coverage and relies completely on the bone. Plus, the longer you are in dentures, the more bone you lose on your lower jaw through resorption. Depending upon the anatomy of the patient’s ridge, mandibular dentures may tend to be looser and may lift, “float”, or move around in the patient’s mouth.

What Can Be Done?

Mini-Implants
As you no doubt know, conventional endosteal implants can be cost-prohibitive for some. Many people don’t realize there are options such as what are known as “mini-implants”: small, pin-shaped implants that are easily placed and do not need to be inserted as far into the bone as the former. These are generally a bit more reasonable economically, as well. These small implants are placed into the lower ridge, allowed to heal, and the denture is re-lined to fit (or “snap”) down over them. This holds the denture firmly in place, and many people love them. You can have snap-on dentures with as few as two mini implants.

Reline
Barring this, you may want to look into having the denture relined. Being as it’s been over five years since you’ve received it, your bone and soft tissues have surely changed and shifted in this time. Asking your dentist for either an in-office or lab-fabricated reline may be the answer: a current, custom fit might just bring about the retention you need. Best of luck to you in your journey toward a better fit!

Just bear in mind, the longer you are in complete dentures, the more bone you lose, so you may want to save up for one of the better treatment options for several years down the line.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Can I Refuse

Is there a way to whittle down unnecessary services that your dentist insists on? I’ve had the same dentist for years and he recently retired. The staff stayed on and I know them quite well and enjoy them. However, the new dentist is tacking on services that raised my appointment cost by over $200. She’s added things like full panoramic x-rays and fluoride treatments. Are these really necessary? Can I refuse them or should I just switch to a more affordable dentist?

Joseph

Dear Joseph,

Dollar sign hatching out of an egg

It is hard to make ends meet these days, especially with inflation the way it is, so I understand your desire to cut back some expenses on your dental bill.

The first thing I would do is have a conversation with your dentist about the reasoning behind the additional services. Most dentists will to a panoramic x-ray every three to five years. You didn’t mention when your last one was. If it has been a while then it might just be time.

While fluoride is most often used in childhood appointments there are still instances when doing it in adulthood is useful. One is if you are undergoing any treatments such as radiation that will be hard on your teeth. Other reasons include frequent decay or sensitive teeth.

If your dentist is doing these additional treatments for one of those reasons, it may be in your best interest to go with them, though you can certainly explain the hardship the cost is for you and see if she is willing to allow you to pay them out in installments.

If she just does them as a matter of course, you can ask if she is willing to make an exception for you. If not, it may be time to seek out a more affordable dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Dentist Keeps Adding Things I “Need”

I am starting to get a bit frustrated with my dentist. Every time I go in, he keeps pushing new suggestions on me. This checkup it was a mouthguard because he said that I grind my teeth. Is this typical practice for dentists or is mine just greedy?

Brooke

Dear Brooke,

Dollar sign hatching from an egg
There is a difference between affordable and cheap denitstry

I would like more information before I want to pronounce your dentist as greedy. Could you give me some more examples of things he’s pushed on you? The reason I asked you that is the suggestion for a mouthguard is not only appropriate but important if you grind your teeth.

Without that protection for your teeth, then you will end up with your teeth ground down to nubs. The only way to fix that is with a full-mouth reconstruction, which entails placing a dental crown on every tooth. That will cost you upwards of $30,000. Getting a mouthguard can literally save you a small fortune.

If affording it is the problem you are facing, then you have a couple of options. First, you can ask your dentist if he’d be willing to allow you to pay it out. If he is not, there are dentists who would be.

In that case, I would look for someone who advertises as an affordable dentist. They are much more willing to allow you to pay things out financially.

If that doesn’t work for you, there is a second option but it is not as good. The mouthguard a dentist would make you will be custom fitted to your bite. If that is not possible, you could, alternatively, purchase an over the counter mouthguard. They pretty much come in a one-sized fits all so they will not be comfortable. But, they will be cheap.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

My Dentist Keeps Trying to Upsell Me

I am starting to get a bit frustrated with my dentist. Every time I go in, he keeps pushing new suggestions on me. This checkup it was a mouthguard because he said that I grind my teeth. Is this typical practice for dentists or is mine just greedy?

Brooke

Dear Brooke,

A dollar sign hatching out of an egg

I would like more information before I want to pronounce your dentist as greedy. Could you give me some more examples of things he’s pushed on you? The reason I asked you that is the suggestion for a mouthguard is not only appropriate but important if you don’t get some protection for your teeth in this case, then you will end up with your teeth ground down to nubs. The only way to fix that is with a full-mouth reconstruction, which entails placing a dental crown on every tooth. That will cost you upwards of $30,000. Getting a mouth guard can literally save you a small fortune.

If affording it is the problem you are facing, then you have a couple of options. First, you can ask your dentist if he’d be willing to allow you to pay it out. If he is not, there are dentists who would be. In that case, I would look for someone who advertises as an affordable dentist. They are much more willing to allow you to pay things out financially.

If that doesn’t work for you, there is a second option but it is not as good. The mouthguard your dentist would make you would be custom fitted to your bite. You could, alternatively, purchase an over the counter mouthguard. They pretty much come in a one-sized fits all so they will not be comfortable. But, they will be cheap.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Can’t Afford My Sinus Perforation

I had a molar extraction about six months ago. During the procedure, my dentist perforated my sinus. After a few weeks a piece of bone came out. I thought it had healed over after that. However, recently I blew my nose and so much air came through that it literally blew my partial denture out a bit. I don’t have the money to get this fixed at the moment and my dentist has retired. What do you recommend?

Laura

Dear Laura,

I am glad that you wrote. While a sinus perforation can happen to any dentist because of mouth structure– there are some maxillary molars that have a very thin membrane separating them from sinus cavities. That being said, your dentist should have addressed the issue. While it sounds like he let you know that it was perforated, it does not sound like he actually closed the perforation.

At this point it should have healed. Because it did not, I would suggest you see an oral surgeon. I know you said you are not able to afford a dentist right now, but I think your dentist should take responsibility for this. If the dentist had partners, talk to one of them about what is going on. They should cover the cost of this.

If his practice was sold, there should be provisions in the contract dealing with post-operative complications, etc.

I feel confident that you can get this covered without expense to yourself (except for your time, of course).

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.