Is My Dentist Telling Me the Truth?

December 13, 2019
Posted By: Christopher Wahlers, DMD

Recently, I have seen some patients from other offices that have come in for second opinions.  They were all recently seen by other dentists and were told that they have extensive problems with their teeth and need to have root canals, crowns, fillings, extractions, and/or implants.  Sometimes the proposed treatments run into the tens of thousands of dollars.  After evaluating their dental condition and X-rays, I am saddened with how often I disagree with the assessments of the other dentists.  Sometimes I find that only the most expensive and invasive options were discussed with the patient.  Sometimes the patients have felt pressured to begin work immediately and even pre-pay for their treatment.  Other times I find that the other dentists were proposing working on teeth that I feel are totally healthy and in no need of treatment!  Many times these patients, concerned for their dental health, go ahead with the proposed treatment despite doubts.

Of course, there are some situations where a person has not seen a dentist in many years, has neglected caring for their teeth, and extensive dental work actually is required to restore function and health.  But unfortunately, some offices pressure their staff to reach certain production goals.  Unethical as it may seem, it does happen.  Years ago, dental offices were almost universally independently owned and operated, but now many dental offices are part of a large corporation.  These corporations compensate employee dentists (and hygienists) based on the volume of dental work performed and often reprimand or fire those who are not diagnosing enough dental disease.   


Dentistry is an amazing profession, and most dentists are competent, ethical people.  I know many of them well.  But there is no profession where every member is truly professional.  If you hear from a friend or relative that their new dentist recently found extensive dental issues, encourage them to obtain a second opinion.  No one should ever feel pressured to begin any treatment, especially if there are doubts about the care they are receiving.  

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