Unfortunately, the practice of medical bullying runs rampant in some dental offices. Dentists rely on their perceived authority to intimidate patients. Unaware patients agree to procedures they don’t need—and often times, can’t afford.
These types of scams are both unethical and terrifying. Few of us have the medical knowledge necessary to determine when a procedure is warranted and when it isn’t.
Here is a list of the most common forms of dental scams. Stick around because we’ll also tell you how to detect, avoid, and report scams.
Many people suffer from receding gum lines. When we were young, dentists told us to scrub, scrub, scrub. So we did. Now, as adults, many of us have scrubbed our gum line away.
To “treat” receding gum lines, dentists will recommend a surgical procedure called a gum graft. The dentist will remove a section of skin from the roof of your mouth and replace it in the recessed area.
Sounds painful, right? Well, it is. And it is also unnecessary. Often times, there are natural ways to cure what ails you.
Toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth will help reduce the pain. Swishing sesame oil in your mouth will reduce inflammation. And regular flossing will help strengthen the gum muscles. With such cost-effective options available, gum grafts sound like an expensive, painful scam to avoid!
Braces are big money makers for dentists. If someone didn’t manage to make a killing off you when you were younger, they may try again now—making them a dental scam to watch out for.
Patients often hear things like, “it’s never too late to cure that overbite.” And while a dentist is willing to sing the praises of perfectly straight teeth, he or she might fail to mention the process costs between $5,000 and $8,000—and insurance won’t cover it.
If you have chronic pain or trouble eating, you might need braces. But if it is just an issue of self-confidence, talk to your dentist about other options. For example, a retainer might be able to gradually—and far more naturally—straighten your teeth.
Root canals are quite possibly the most dangerous thing you can do for your oral health. Most people who undergo a root canal suffer from chronic inflammation and infection.
By the time a root canal is needed, the tooth is already dead. There is no point “saving” it. Paying a great sum of money to someone who says they can is just a scam.
If you can’t find a way to naturally—and legitimately—save the tooth, ask about simple extraction.
We all know that too many unnecessary x-rays can be dangerous. Well, dental x-rays are especially damaging and have been linked to several different types of cancer.
Even the American Dental Association says x-rays should only be used when absolutely necessary for diagnosis and treatment. They do not need to be performed once or twice a year out of procedural routine.
If you must have your teeth examined, find a dentist who uses digital imaging. It’s much safer—and therefore, not considered dental fraud!
What You Can Do
There are several things that will help you avoid a dental scam. Take the time to consider the following:
–Do some research. Check for online scam notices if you are considering a new dentist (or if you suspect yours is acting unethically). There are lots of websites that provide internet fraud notices for scammers of all types.
–Get a second opinion. There are very few—if any—situations that will make your teeth fall out so quickly that you can’t afford to get a second opinion. If you suspect a dentist is committing fraud, get a second opinion.
–Look for natural alternatives. There are lots of natural dental products and procedures that your dentist won’t tell you about. Give them a whirl before shelling out big bucks.
–Take action. If you do become a victim of dental fraud, do your part to protect others. There are lots of sources online that are scam websites—places where you can report a scam. However, there are other businesses—like eConsumerServices—that are more than just a scam website. These organizations and business actually do something about the fraudulent behavior. There are actions you can take besides simply complaining on a scam website forum or community board.
Your teeth are very valuable—but that doesn’t mean you should unknowingly shell out thousands of dollars to “protect” them. Be cautious of dentists who are trying to scam unsuspecting patients. If you do find a fraudster, let others know.