15 answers

How Do You Know Your Dentist Is Not Ripping You Off!

I took my kids in for a dental exam. The regular dentist said they had cavities, like 3, and for them to go to a pediatric dentist. These are all in their back baby teeth. So I put off going for a month or two because I was waiting for our 2nd dental insurance to kick in. I went to the only pediatric dentist that our insurance covers and he said that my 4 year old has 8 cavities, most of them in between her back teeth, and my two 6 year olds have 6 cavities in between their teeth. Two months ago, the 6 year old had 1 cavity according to her X-rays.
My question is, is this dentist trying to overfill? My kids brush daily, not perfectly, they don't floss, so I have started them swishing the flouride rinse, but I guess I just don't trust that they have this many cavities that need fillings. My last pediatric dentist would only fill the surface cavities, not the little tiny ones - he recommended floride rinse for those to stop the progression. We are looking at outpatient surgery for the 4 year old and 5 appointments for one 6 year old, 4 appointments for the other 6 year old, all on baby teeth, all for minor cavities that looked like tiny white dots on the X-ray.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you for your help. I am getting a 2nd opinion. My main concern is that the xrays did not show gray cavities, but dark white spots and when I google xray images of cavities, they all looked like dark areas, not white spots. My kids do not need to be tortured at the dentist with unnecessry fillings. I am happy to fix legitimate cavities, but not tiny little nothings.

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Well I was went to school for dental assisting and was an orthodontic assistant before coming a SAHM so here is what I know. Most dentist are not in it to just take your money although I am sure there are some out there who are trigger happy when it comes to drilling. haha But doing fillings on kids is much harder than on adults so most pediatric dentist only do fillings if they are really needed. With that said there is still some wiggle room. Some dentist will look and see problem areas that could be filled but are so small that it would be a very small filling so they will not fill it and just watch it and then if it gets larger over the next few years then fill it. Other doctors think just fill it now while it's super small so it they don't have to spend too much time in your child's mouth (which is easier on them) and it also doesn't take that much material to fill the cavity. It's really not a good idea to wait until it actually hurts your child because by that time it could mean way too much decay which could mean damage to the nerve or the entire tooth could the need to be removed. I would say to just go back in and talk to your dentist...have him explain what type of cavities he sees. If some are the really, really small ones you could ask to wait on those. Just do the bad ones first and then just keep an eye on some of the others.....if they start to grow deeper then you know to get those ones taken care of.

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go to www.healthbluebook.com for pricing on procedures. As for that, I would strongly suggest you get a second opinion. Good Luck!!!

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First of all I would recommend that if it does not sound right to you, you get a second or even third opinion. Even minor cavities can become a real problem, after all kids keep some of their baby teeth for a long time. Not to mention that dental visits can be pretty dramatic so some kids. Like I said before if I was in your position I'd try to get a sec/third opinion and then go from there. I am an assistant at a dental office and we take patients to the hosp. For dental treatment as well and I can tell you that for younger kids it's great to be able to do this because everything can be done in one visit. Also next time you take a look at your children's x-ray keep this in mind: cavities should not appear has white dots, cavities appear darker than normal tooth structure. Good luck.

Updated

I just posted a reply on this a little while ago and I read some of the other moms responses and I have one thing to say. It really angers me that some people can just say "they are just baby teeth they will fall out anyways so why pay for the fillings" I have been a dental assistant for a few years and I have seen kids coming into our office with every tooth in their mouth rotting off because their parents thought the same way.I have a nephew who just a month ago had eight of his teeth capped and one extracted and he's only 2. Please keep in mind that baby teeth are there for a reason and that is not to decay. They are there to guide the adult teeth when those start coming in. Please don't take this kind of advise, it is simply not right.Talk to your dentist and if the cavities are small opt to have him continue to watch them and then go from there.

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Get another opinion.

And you don't need a specific pediatric dentist, just someone who is comfortable working with kids (and has a good bedside manner). My kids were great with our last family dentist - he was able to deal with an absolute fear of everything at the office from one, to a pulpotomy with another with just local anesthetic and distraction. We had to switch dentists (insurance) and tried a pediatric dentist, who thought he needed to give a sedative (Versed?) for an x-ray to the same kid who sat through the pulpotomy. Not that most pediatric dentists are bad, but they aren't necessarily better than family dentists.

Get copies of x-rays from both dentists and then get an opinion from a third. Ask exactly how important it is to fill baby teeth (depends on how much longer the tooth will stay in, where in the tooth it is, etc). And go with the dentist you feel most comfortable with

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On a side note, our dentist tells the kids that cavities between the teeth are mostly due to sugary beverages...flavored milk, juice and of course, soda. She also said to avoid sticky stuff like fruit leathers, chewy candy and anything gummy for kids prone to cavities.

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I am definetly in doubt when it comes to extensive work on kids, possible under general anesthesia. There are absolutely valid cases, but I get a feeling that a lot of dentists are in it for a quick buck.
Has he suggested any alternative treatments. Very superficial cavities in baby teeth sometimes do great with just flouride varnish applied by a dentist in regular intervals.
If they teeth ache, I would definitely go for the fillings, but if it's like you descibe and it's just very minor, I would get a second opinion from a family dentist, if you don't have any other pediatric ones on your insurance.
Good luck!

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Well, first I would talk to the kids. Ask them if it is bothersome or hurts. Ask the normal gauntlet of questions - Does it hurt - Hot or Cold Liquids, to the touch, when chewing, etc.

If the the kids aren't bothered, I would get a second opinion. Call your insurance and advise them of the situation, most will cover a second opinion exam.

If they're baby teeth, I wouldn't be as concerned. My babby teeth rotted out of my mouth when I was a kid, but I have had no cavities with any of my adult teeth. Keep pushing preventive things like proper brushing, flossing, and general Oral Hygene. Also, keep them drinking milk. My parrents forced me to drink one full glass of milk everyday, before I could drink anything else. I think its one of the reasons for my overall dental health.

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well if they don't floss that would explain the cavities between the teeth and they certainly need to be filled and better to fill them when they are small. My oldest had one inbetween but only needed one tooth filled they didn't have to do both. If they are visible on the xray then they are there they can't fake the xray. If you don't trust your dentist then go get the opinion of another dentist if your other insurance has kicked in. I don't understand why a dentist would only fill surface cavities sure the teeth will eventually fall out but it could be a long time and to leave a cavity doesn't seem right either. I trust my dentist they actually will show me the places on the xrays. Oh and if your 4 year old is good w/ things you should try do it without the putting him/her under. My nephew had a filling shortly after turning 4 and he did absolutely wonderful. Sure you will have to go a few times but if he does well they could do them 2 at a time. Maybe the start of the cavities were present but weren't technically cavities yet the last time they were xrayed.

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I went to this dentist, http://www.insiderpages.com/doctors/Robert-M-Lasell-DDS-C... and I had just one filling fall out, so I asked him to replace it.He did Xrays and said, "ok, we will get these wisdom teeth out first, then you need a cleaning, but your teeth are so dirty I will have to put you under, then I will get to the filling"
that will be $2000 up front please - WHAT!!!?
I went to get a second opinion and the other dentist told me that I needed a regular cleaning, and he had never even heard of putting someone under general aneasthetic for a clean - my wisdom teeth don't hurt at all, so why remove them.
it pays to look online for reviews, I wished I had before going! and if it stinks like it, then it usually is - use your gut feeling.

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I would get a second opinion or at least ask more questions about these cavitites - are the surface? which teeth? how will he fill them - with numbing gel, novocaine etc? how long will it take. I don't think you necessarily need to see a pediatric dentist as long as you feel comfortable of your family dentist's ability to work with chidlren. We love our family dentist. My 4 yr old son had three surface cavities in his molars, and recently he went to have them filled - took about 30 minutes - he watched TV and the dentist worked fast - no novocaine shot just numbing gel (the only thing my son didn't like was the cotton on his cheek to prevent the numbing gel from numbing his cheek as well). Then he got to visit the "treasure box" afterwards. On the other hand my older sons have never had any cavities and nor have I (my husband has had many). Genetically some people are more cavity prone than others, so it's possible your child just has bad genes when it comes to cavities. We brush twice a day (no flossing although we still make it a New Year's resolution every year ;), but per the dentist recommendation we only drink water - no juices, and avoid sticky candies/fruits (but try to chew a xylitol gum after consuming those items). Hang in there!!!

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I had a similar situation but with my own teeth. I had a great dentist and I only needed one cavity filled at my 6 month checkup. I had an insurance change in between this check and the next 6 month cleaning and unfortunately I could not see my old dentist on the new plan. The new guy told me that I needed 14 fillings. Yes, FOURTEEN! I was outraged to say the least. There is absolutely no way that in a 6 month span of time that I suddenly developed that many cavities. I was just there for a routine cleaning and suddenly I needed a mouthful of dental work so I left the office and did not return.

My feeling is that 'most' dentists have your best interest in mind but there are also the ones that are only looking to make the most money possible. Also it could be that depending on where/when the dentist obtained their degree there might be changes in what the American Dental Association recommends regarding to fill or not fill. Seems like the newer generation of dentists are all about fillings. Personally, I think that as long as your children have been brushing and rinsing then I would go with what the original dentist told you especially if your children aren't complaining about tooth pain. It's unlikely that in 2 months that they would have more than doubled the number of cavities. I think that 8 fillings is particularly unnecessary with the 4 yr old because he/she is just going to lose those teeth in a year or so anyway so no sense in spending the money if the teeth aren't bothering him/her. I would have the most prominent ones filled and leave it at that for the time being. If possible, maybe you can seek a third opinion. Best wishes.

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I had a similar experience. I went to a dentist that told me I had 7 cavities. I don't even have 7 fillings in my entire mouth and suddenly I had 7 cavities. I went to my husband's dentist (who happens to be his cousin) and he told me I had no cavities. I've now been going to him for the past 3 years and still have no cavities. Go figure. Definitely get a 2nd opinion!

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I would agree about getting a 2nd or 3rd opinion. I worked for 2 dentists (same practice) for 5 years before becoming a SAHM. MOST dentists are wonderful, but I've known a few that have only been in it for the $$. I had been to a different dentist (prior to my current one) and he had recommended doing a bunch of work to ALL of my teeth, just to fix one problem. The estimated cost of all that would have been $40,000!!! After we started seeing our current dentist, I explained the problem to him, and he said that there are a few dental schools out there that think that replacing or crowning/capping all teeth are the answer to everything. Luckily, he DOES NOT agree with that theory. He fixed the problem and it only cost me $200!

My daughter is 5 and I still brush her teeth. She brushes them first, then I do it again. We also FLOSS EVERY SINGLE DAY! Most of her teeth don't even touch each other, but it doesn't matter. She now has a habit of flossing that I hope will stay with her forever! Even with me brushing and flossing daily, she still had a cavity in between 2 of the teeth that do touch. She is a very healthy eater, and we don't have many treats at our house. Mostly fruits and veggies, but still she got a cavity. I didn't take her to a Ped. Dentist, just our family dentist. He was great with her. She needed a numbing shot, but, took it well (she was barely 4). I would go with your gut, you're their mommy. Get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. But keep in mind that your kids will have their baby teeth for a long time, and they are there to hold the place for the perm. teeth. It isn't worth letting your kids be in pain and possibly loosing their baby teeth early because you didn't want to get them fixed. That would only cost you even more $$ in the long run. Good luck!

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definatly get a second opinion. I went to a new dentist once because he had a "free exam" well after that visit he said i needed 2500 in repairs and filings in my teeth! I went back to my regular dentist and took the x rays with, and my dentist was shaking his head wondering what the other dentist was thinking, he said I only had 4 tiny cavitities and would not cost anywhere near that much to fill! (he may have even filled one for free). That was two years ago, I go back for checkups and no more problems at all....Getting a second or sometimes third opinion is worth it!!

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Get a second opinion, even if you have to go outside your plan. No sense putting your kids through all that dental work until you're convinced it's necessary. My dad once had a dentist tell him his fillings all needed to be replaced, so he called our old dentist (who'd just retired) and got his opinion. He said that was one of the biggest dental scams out there and not to have the work done. Another dentist confirmed that all was just fine with his fillings.

If your gut says something's not right, trust it.

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