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4 Signs You are Being Over Charged by the Dentist

The unethical practice of billing patients for something they don't need is the most distressing trend in dentistry.  It really makes me sad for my profession.

The days of trusting everyone and everything are gone and knowing how to avoid unethical dentist is crucial.

4 signs that could spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

1. Unexplanable Billing Codes

Billing codes are used to let the insurance provider know what treatment has been completed. 

Even if you don't have insurance, your dentist should still use dental billing codes.

If your bill or your treatment plan shows a list of codes be sure you know what each code means.  Over coding for a procedure is one way of over charging.  

If you don't see the codes on your billing statement ask for a list and explanation of each code used in your treatment charges.

Better yet, ask what codes will be used before your appointment.

overcharged by the dentist

2. No Clear Explanation Given

Dental treatment that is legitimate is explainable.  It is your right to understand everything that is being recommend, why it is needed and what might happen if you don't choose to have the treatment.  

Though teeth can be unpredictable, some treatment is urgent and some is optional.   Ask you dentist to prioritize your treatment needs.

3. The Treatment Doesn't Make Sense 

Do you really need the treatment? Knowing the billing codes that are being used is a big clue here.  

This note from a reader shows how important it is to understand your billing codes:

I think my dentist is going to make me pay too much.

They want to charge me $231.00 for a "deep cleaning" I have not been to the dentist in 5 years, I do brush and floss.

I was told the deep cleaning is to get the stains off of the back of my 3 lower front teeth and I have plaque  build up as well as tarter build up.

At first, the office manager tried to tell me I had gum disease and started telling me i would be charged $400 
dollars for    my teeth to be cleaned. The dentist came out and said NO, she just needs a deep clean to remove stains.

Here is what my billing codes are, I called for them

D4342 , D4921, D9630, D9910

Am I being over charged for something I just don't need?

Calling for the codes was a smart move on her part.  Three of these codes D4342 , D4921, D9630 are used to bill for gum disease treatment.  The dentist told her she doesn't have gum disease.

This code D9910 is used to bill for applying desensitizing medication.  Unless her teeth are sensitive  she shouldn't need this treatment.

If her only issue is stain on 3 teeth and she doesn't have gum disease, what she really needs is a regular cleaning D1110.   The fee for this is much lower than what she was about to be charged.  Typically it is $60-$100.  

The definition of D1110:

D1110 is for the  removal of plaque, calculus, and stains from the tooth structures in the permanent and transitional dentition. It is intended to control local irritational factors. 

4.  Disturbing Patterns

Have you always had healthy teeth and now suddenly you need a mouthful of fillings or a deep cleaning?  It is possible for your dental health to suddenly change but there is usually a reason like a change in your diet, an unusually dry mouth, increased stress or a decline in your general health. 

I recently had a patient share why she left her previous dentist.  She said that after being told of a treatment she needed, she was waiting to make financial arrangements.  While in the waiting area she had time to talk to several other patients.  She found that they all were waiting to make financial arrangement for the exact same treatment.  I suppose it may have been a coincidence but really what are the odds of that happening?  

That among other things made her want to find a new dentist.

How to Find a Good Dentist

You may be tempted to give up on all dentist but that would be a mistake.  There are plenty of highly skilled and honest dentists waiting to take great care of you.  

Do some research, take your time and make a good choice.

How can you find a great dentist? Here is my advice.

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