I had a discolored front tooth, so my dentist made me a porcelain crown. It’s well made, but it’s an unnatural color. I’m not happy with it, but it’s already cemented into my mouth. My dentist is willing to redo the crown, but should I go see my same dentist? Or try to find someone who specializes in crowns? I went to my family dentist because I thought it was most affordable, but I’m worried I should have gone to a cosmetic dentist in the first place.
Larry, from Rome, NY
If cost is that much of a factor, and you are willing to give your dentist another chance, stay with your current dentist. He sounds like he is willing to work with you so you can get a crown that matches your teeth. However, if you want a perfect-looking crown, you should look into starting over with a cosmetic dentist.
Your dentist sounds like he realizes he made a mistake with your crown, and is trying to make it right. Matching a crown to the front teeth takes a lot of skill. After each try-in, it must be sent back to the lab before a successful color match can be made. Even a skilled dentist or ceramist will take several tries before they can make a natural-looking match.
Your dentist was likely inexperienced in making natural-looking crowns. He may not have known how much time or effort it would take to make a crown for a front tooth.
A sign of an inexperienced dentist is when they ask to crown both front teeth, in order to ensure a color match. While this is one way to make sure the shades match, it does add an expense to the crown procedure .
One suggestion you can make to your dentist is to ask him to take photos of your smile using a high-tech intra-oral camera. This can help him get the most natural looking colors to match your future crown. Make sure the pictures of your smile are taken under natural lighting can help your dentist match your crown to your natural tooth’s color. If he lacks the skill, the technology, or is unwilling to try, your best bet would be to go to a different cosmetic dentist and start over.
I think I have a dental emergency. One of my teeth is throbbing with pain. I think I need a root canal, however, I cannot afford one. Should I wait to see a dentist when I can, or go see an emergency dentist immediately? It is really painful, I’m not sure how much longer I can deal with the swelling.
Mallick, from Trenton, New Jersey
If it is swelling that much, you need immediate assistance. If you cannot go see your dentist, you will need to see someone who can do your root canal. If you cannot afford this, you will need to go see an emergency dentist.
If you do not see an emergency dentist for the infection, you run the risk of the infection spreading. An oral infection can spread to the heart or brain, and once it does, it can cause severe consequences and even death.
Also, do not take antibiotics without a treatment plan. The overuse of antibiotics can cause side effects, such as leading to treatment-resistant infections. Once the infection can no longer be treated with antibiotics, it will become more dangerous and more difficult to eradicate.
I keep on top of my dental appointments, going every six months. However, every time I go, my dentist insists on giving me x-rays and bitewings each time I go. I was wondering how often I needed these? My dentist also wants me to get fluoride treatments, but I thought only kids needed those. Do I still need them? I’m on a tight budget and only want to get what is absolutely necessary.
Hannah, from Leeds, United Kingdom
There is no negative affect for receiving fluoride treatments as an adult. However if you have had porcelain work done to your teeth, you should be wary of using acidulated fluoride. This strong type of fluoride can damage your veneers or crowns, and make your teeth more susceptible to staining. Be sure to inform your hygienist of any work you’ve had done prior to your cleaning.
Your dentist would recommend these treatments for you if your teeth are in an advanced state of decay. You are correct, mostly children receive fluoride treatments until the age of 14, but some continue longer.
The ADA guidelines recommend a full-mouth x-ray every that show the roots every one to five years. You need bitewings (a set of two to four x-rays taken while you bite down on some film) at least once a year.
Your dentist may have recommended additional x-rays if your teeth have advanced stages of decay. If not, then you can ask your dentist to follow the ADA guidelines. Receiving fewer x-rays will save you some money.
This blog post is brought to you by affordable Scottsdale dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck, of Peck Family Dentistry.
It seems there is a bit of irony in the phrase “affordable dentist.” As someone who is in need of several dental procedures, I have not been able to secure dental insurance until the last few months. The first dental provider I visited recommended treatment to the tune of almost $12,000. That is completely unrealistic for my budget, so I set out to find a dentist would could provide the services I need for a lesser cost. However, in my research, I’m concluding that the dental offices who showcase their low costs come with poor reviews. And, those which I have visited, feel like the dentist is running an assembly line, quickly moving through as many procedures as possible.
Because I am in need of a great deal of dental work, it is crucial that I find a dentist with whom I can connect with and feel comfortable around.
Is it possible to find a dentist who will provide quality work for a reasonable cost?
Thank you, Will
Dear Will, You ask wonderful questions. Rest assured, this situation is quite common. However, the remedy will require a different way of thinking.
Thought it may appear that, when comparing the services from various dentists, that they are the same, regardless of the procedures, the individual dentists have their own unique approaches. Try to consider the dentists’ perspective, as there are only so many ways costs can be reduced. A dentist could:
Monitor and limit the time they are with patients (this sounds similar to the tactics you mentioned above).
Select materials which are cheaper.
Reduce the amenities they offer and/or the size of their team, or have team members with less experience.
Unfortunately, doing any of the above would reduce the quality of your experience and services you receive and you would want to steer clear of offices that do them. However, these are characteristics of cheap dentistry.
The solution is more about finding a good dentist who is affordable. There are several considerations when doing this.
Look for an office who will separate your treatment plan into smaller sections. This will allow you to pay for the services as you receive them and your budget allows.
Consider offices who offer financing options. Many offer this in-house through their office, or use services such as CareCredit.
If you don’t currently have dental insurance, get it. Or, if you do have it, look into getting a secondary plan. You can get on a good PPO for under $50 a month, but be cognisant of wait periods, as some companies require waiting over a year for services.
Prioritize and address the most pressing needs first, and as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the longer you go without fixing dental problems, the more expensive they become.
Be sure you are getting the most out of your insurance benefits. Ask questions and find out as much about your benefits as you can. Determine if there are other options that will allow the insurance company to cover more, or be sure you use every dime of the amount they pay.
If you find an office that you connect with, be sure to let them know your budget. Ideally, the best practices will offer to find ways to help ensure you get the treatment you need, even if you have to start slow and go at the pace which your budget allows.
I wanted to get a smile makeover because my teeth are so stained. Plus, I have a tiny gap between the two front teeth. I looked at porcelain veneers, but they were way out of my budget. Is there a way to get my smile more attractive without losing my home?
I’m a firm believer in the fact that there’s always an affordable dental alternative. You’re right that porcelain veneers are a tad on the expensive side. However, that doesn’t mean you are trapped with a smile you’re not proud of. Based on what you described, you’re a good candidate for two procedures which can repair both of those problems. These can make your smile look beautiful.
I’d start by getting your teeth whitened. This is probably the most affordable procedure you can do for your smile with amazing results. It will take years off your appearance in one fell swoop.
In addition to that, there’s an easy solution for your tooth gap. Dental bonding uses a composite resin to fill in the gap. A cosmetic dentist will hand sculpt the new inner edges of your teeth in a way that they meet perfectly.
It’s important you whiten your teeth first. Once the resin is molded and dried, the color cannot be changed. That’s why you’ll want your teeth the color you’ll want permanently so your dentist can match the resin to it.
What You Want in an Affordable Dentist
I don’t want you to confuse a cheap dentist with an affordable dentist. A cheap dentist will cut corners, which rarely works out well for the patient. An affordable dentist will still do quality work but find other ways to save you money.
Generally, they’ll try to keep their fees reasonable, but often they also offer payment plans. They can do that with either an in-house payment plan or through Care Credit.
You also want a dentist who tells you all of your alternative treatment plans. Just like there was a more affordable option for your smile makeover, your dentist should give you all your options. It’s the only ethical way to handle things.
One other suggestion. You should always check reviews of every medical practitioner before you see them. It’s always wise to learn from the experiences of others.
I hadn’t been to a dentist in years for financial reasons. I started to get worried about my oral health, not because of any specific issues, but it’s just been in the back of my mind. I did an internet search for affordable dentists and found two in my immediate area. I’ve been to both of them. They were both awful. The first one was just plain smelly. I don’t know why. It’s like he just didn’t care about bathing. I could barely stand to stay in the chair because of them smell. I know he said I needed some work. I expected that. But, I can’t remember anything he said because I just wanted out of there. I don’t think I could go back to him if it was free. The next one at least cared about personal hygiene. He was a bit rough in how he handles patients. He told me I have a tooth that could go any minute. I could try to save it with a root canal and crown or I can just extract and replace it. I tried to ask him some questions but he said he doesn’t have time to answer patients. I can call the office and leave a message and one of the hygienists will get back with me. On the way out I told the desk lady I didn’t understand why he doesn’t answer patient questions. She said if I want low prices he needs to keep people moving so he can make up profit losses. Is it possible to get quality service by a dentist who cares AND affordable prices? Please don’t make me go back to Mr. Stinky.
It’s great that you’re working so hard to find a dentist which you can afford. It’s a shame your choices have been so limited. It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find one, though you may have to go outside of your immediate area if those were the two closest choices.
Reasons Dentists Choose to Have Affordable Prices
There are several reasons dentists may choose to have prices that are lower than the average around them. Some of those motives are better than others, as you’ve unfortunately experienced.
To Draw in Patients
This isn’t a bad motive (in some cases). It mostly depends on why they need to draw in patients. Sometimes it is simply a matter of being a brand new practice. They haven’t had time to develop a patient base. We’ve all had to start somewhere. However, other times a dentist isn’t that great. They need to draw in patients because they have horrible patient retention. The only way to keep their income going is to lower their prices and draw in new victims.
Other dentists simply know that every human being is working at a different budgetary level. They don’t want the working poor to be without dental care simply because their current job salary or life circumstances make affording those types of things feel like a luxury. Many of them have been in difficult circumstances before and still remember what it felt like.
Their quality doesn’t suffer from their compassion. Often you won’t find them the absolute cheapest, though. Why is that? Because they also think patients deserve quality care. They refuse to sacrifice their patients at the altar of cheap parts to make up profits. That leads me to an important warning.
A Cheap Dentist isn’t an Affordable Dentist
When a dentist uses having the lowest prices to draw patients in, sometimes they try to make up the profits by purchasing low quality (cheap) materials. One place we’ve seen this often is with dental implants.
In the United States, an implant fixture can cost several hundred dollars. That’s because we have high medical standards and regulations designed to keep the safety of patients in mind at all times. But, if a dentist wants to come in significantly lower in price than his nearby peers he has a couple of choices: make less money or make up the profits somewhere. Too many of them choose to make up the profits elsewhere. The dentists can simply purchase is implant part from out of the country for just a few bucks, saving him hundreds on just one phase of the procedure. Unfortunately, those cheap parts have led to many infections causing not just a dental emergency, but complete implant failure. I’ve even seen some patients come for help because their implant simply snapped in half.
Now, that patient has to start over again, missing more work. Plus, in addition to having to get their dental implants done again from scratch, they have to add bone grafting to the mix because dental implant failure removes too much bone structure. Instead of saving money, they end up paying more than double.
How do You Know if You’re Getting a Good Affordable Dentist?
There’s no foolproof way to ensure yourself against a dud, but there is one simple step you can take— check their reviews. People post reviews of their experiences when they’ve either been very good or very bad. Either way, you’ll have some idea of what others experienced at the dentist’s hands.
ThereI have a large family. It’s nearly impossible for me to pay for everyone to get their dental work done twice a year and afford it without spreading it out throughout the year. What that boils down to is we’re at the dentist EVERY month; more if someone needs a filling or crown. What I’m looking for is a dentist who will let us all come on the same day, but pay it out throughout the six months. Is that possible?
Yes, that’s possible but it depends on the dentist. Your best bet is to look for someone who calls himself an affordable dentist. They’re generally more willing to work with patients, especially those in your situation.
However, don’t just jump at the first dentist you see who meets these two criteria. Check their reviews. You want to make sure they’re skilled and thoughtful with patients. You don’t want a dentist who is going to cause your children to dread the dentist.
In fact, if you find a great dentist who works with whole families, does great work, and is good with patients, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to afford to go. There’s a medical “credit card” of sorts called Care Credit. The best thing about this is you can set your terms. Depending on your credit, you can even get zero interest payment plans and there’s no penalty for paying it off early.
I hope this helps you get the dental care you need without feeling like you have to live at the dentist’s office.
I live in an affluent area. Recently I got a dental implant. My best friend, who lives in a poor area, also got one. She was talking about how incredibly expensive it was. But, it turns out hers was several thousands dollar cheaper. Does where she live make it cheaper? Would I be better off slumming it in her neighborhood?
Lindsey G. – Chicago
The geographical area that a practice is located can have an affect on price. Most of that is the leasing costs. For instance, Dr. Peck is only a short distance away from Scottsdale, AZ. The cost of living is higher in Scottsdale, so by being right outside of it he saves money on his location. That is a savings that he passes on to his patients. Making him a very affordable dental option for residents of Scottsdale.
That being said, there could be other reasons why her implant cost so much less that yours. Maybe she went to an inexperienced dentist who lowered his prices significantly to draw people in. Or maybe he uses parts that are lower quality in order to have low prices without affecting his profit margin. Neither of these reasons would be good for your friend.
Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean affordable quality.
I needed two crowns. I didn’t have much money so I called around to find the cheapest dentist. He did such a bad job that it completely threw off my bite. It got so bad that I developed TMJ, which is costing me even more than the crowns. What a disaster!
Penny L.- West Virginia
You’ve discovered an important principle in dentistry. Cheap does not necessarily mean affordable. There are affordable dentists who don’t compromise the quality of their materials. However, generally the least expensive dentist is that way for a reason. Sometimes it is just a matter of not being great at their profession and needing a way to draw customers in. For others, it is skimping on the appropriate materials.
What you want to do is look for a dentist who has reasonable fees, but still does quality work. That usually won’t be the least expensive dentist. Many dentists have payment plans that allow you to pay out your work interest free. Others do your dental work in stages so you only have to pay for one part of the procedure at a time.