Category Archives: Affordable Dentist

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.

Getting Discounted Dental Care

Is there a way to go to a dental school to get your dental work done cheaper than you would with a graduated dentist? I’m sort of broke at the moment and I’m pretty sure I have at least one cavity.

Benton

Dear Benton,

Dollar Sign hatching from an egg

Yes, there are dental schools that will do your dental work. It will cost about half of what you would pay with your dentist. Not all states have dental schools. For instance, there is not a dental school in Arkansas. So you would have to make sure there is one in your area.

If so, it will be students who do the work and then that work is checked by an instructor. You will not get shoddy work, but it will not be top of the line work either. Another factor is the time it would take you.

If you were going to a regular dental practice and needed three dental fillings, you could have those procedures done in one appointment, which could be done in about 45 minutes.

At a dental school, each of those three fillings would have to be done at separate appointments and each appointment would take about an hour and a half. So, you are looking at 4 and a half hours of work, plus travel time back and forth for each of those three appointments. If you’re paid by the hour, you might end up losing money.

Another option is to look for a private dentist who doesn’t mind advertising themselves as an affordable dentist. This usually means they work to keep their prices down. Often, these dentists will offer payment plan options as well. This way you can save time and likely get better quality work done.

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

Affordable Dentistry During Inflation

The rising costs of everything have been eating away at the worth of my husband’s paycheck. He already works so hard so I can raise our four young children and I’m worried that we won’t be able to afford the dentist this entire year. Our dentist’s prices went up again this year. I don’t blame him. He’s dealing with inflation just like the rest of the country. But, I haven’t been able to afford their last appointment and I’m worried about the children’s teeth. Are there ways to find affordable dentistry in this climate?

Gina

Dear Gina,

Dollar sign hatching from an egg
There is a difference between affordable and cheep dentistry

I understand what you are going through. Everyone seems to be feeling this pinch, which is causing a vicious cycle of rising costs. I have some things that may help, even if it doesn’t solve all of your problems.

What You Can Do At Home

While most parents know and do the obvious things, such as brushing and flossing their children’s teeth daily, there are a couple of things that seem to surprise people. In case your pediatric dentist hasn’t told you about them, here they are:

First, limit snacks. Believe it or not, one of the best defenses against decay is actually saliva, which contains bacteria fighting minerals. However, the more your children snack, the less chance their saliva has to do its job. I know growing children are always hungry, but if you can limit them to one snack a day it will go a LONG way to fighting cavity causing bacteria. Plus, you will have the additional benefit of them actually being hungry enough to eat the food you lovingly prepare for them at their meals.

Second, know many juices contain citrus acid. This can eat away at their enamel. While some of those juices, like orange juice, can be healthy, you don’t want it to counteract what you’re trying to do for their teeth. One mistake people make is thinking brushing immediately after drinking something acidic will protect their teeth from the damage. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect. Instead, it grinds the acid into their teeth. If you’re going to give them a juice right before bedtime when they are going to brush, have them swish some water around their mouth first, to neutralize the acid.

Finding An Affordable Dentist

Don’t confuse cheap with affordable. If a dentist is significantly lower than all other dentists in their area, it is a red flag. They could be using poor quality fixtures to keep their profits up, or they are terrible dentists who have to keep their prices super low to draw in new patients.

Sometimes an area a dental office is in can keep prices higher. Rent for office space is different depending on the real estate location. Sometimes you can save some money from going to a dentist that is just outside of an expensive area. You can get high quality care with slightly lower prices because the dentist’s overhead is lower.

Do an internet search using the term “affordable dentist” and the area you are looking. Often dentists who strive to keep their prices down will have a web page devoted to how they strive to make things easier for families. Just be certain to check their reviews to make sure the quality of care is what you want for your children.

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