$6,000 Dental Quote for My 3 & 5 Year Old Boys. Am I Being Scammed?

Updated on May 22, 2017
A.L. asks from Sarasota, FL
25 answers

I'm still in shock from this afternoon's pediatric dentist visit. The dentist recommended $6,000 in "treatment" for both boys combined, stating that both have multiple cavities (6 for my 3yo, 8 for my 5yo) that he prefers to do "sedation" for, about $1500 extra, but included in the $6,000. These are all fillings, no caps or root canals or crowns or anything extreme. I can see a small clear hole in my 5 year old's front tooth and two small dark spots in the center of each back tooth in my 3 year old. Yes, we brush their teeth, but we are guilty of allowing them to drink juice occasionally & eat candy sometimes as well as fruit snacks, fruit roll ups, and raisins, which are all culprits I'm told. I know we need a second opinion. Has anyone had similar "treatment plans" for such young children? Feeling like a failure or like I'm being scammed, or both...

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So What Happened?

Spoke with a family dentist per advice from this board who quoted "apples to apples" less than half the price and told me that he sees overly aggressive treatment plans from pedi dentists every day, so we will probably have an even lower estimate once he sees for himself and reduces the treatment plan down to the appropriate level. To the mom who asked/accused, no this wasn't my boys' first dental visit. Yes, our family is subjected to fluoridation in our water supply, and yes, we brush their teeth.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

No, I haven't had this experience but my daughter has been for her dental visits every six months since she was two. Is this their first visit or did the dentist suddenly find them?

$6,000 minus the sedation is $4,500 = $321/cavity. Seems a little high, get a second opinion with a different (pediatric) dentist. Cavities are not just holes in the teeth or black spots.

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answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia!

If your child has a HOLE in their tooth? That sounds reasonable. That's NOT something that can just be filled.

I would get a second opinion and get a detailed account of what they want to do and the costs associated with each one.

If you don't have dental insurance? I would ask them what their discount is if you pay cash.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Get a 2nd opinion from a different dental office.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a reliable pediatric dentist. Don't worry about the guilt. Maybe you've done some things wrong, but maybe there's a family history problem at play here too. Forget the guilt and get an independent opinion. Tell your pediatrician that you have extremely high estimates.

Talk to friends, preschool parents, etc. and ask who they use. You may get some good names. Look to see if names overlap.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I second opinion sounds like a good idea. The price alone would probably make me faint! I would also be upset at the idea that my very young ones had that many cavities. I completely understand your desire for a second opinion. You could probably take them to your own dentist. I'm not certain what the advantage of a pediatric dentist is for most kids. Our youngest is on the autism spectrum, so it was necessary for him (he refused to let the dentist even look inside his mouth).

I will say that I'm concerned that you can see the cavities. I have many, many cavities and several caps (I blame genetics!) and have faithfully gone to the dentist twice a year, and I have never been able to see a cavity. My dentist has always found them from my annual x-rays. If you can see them, they are very, very bad, and that's something you need to take seriously.

I agree with others that if they children do have that many cavities, you probably do want to consider sedation. One or two cavities, Novocaine should be fine, but 6 or 8? I think I'd want to use sedation and just have them all done at once. Otherwise you're talking several visits each.

Definitely get a second opinion, but if this is something you really want to take seriously.

Do you have dental insurance? If not, talk to the dentist about your options. Because of the severity, you might even want to consult your medical insurance. Dental issues can become health issues quickly, and it never hurts to ask. My first cap was a result of an accident (I bit into a Jordan almond and broke my tooth), and it was covered by my health insurance. I only had to pay 20%, which was still a lot! But it's worth it to ask.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I doubt the foods they eat are that much of a problem. Most kids have those treats now and then.

"I can see a small clear hole in my 5 year old's front tooth and two small dark spots in the center of each back tooth in my 3 year old."

This actually is a big deal. You shouldn't be able to tell the have cavities. If you can see something, then those cavities are huge and need to be taken care of immediately. I have had cavities, and I have never been able to see anything.

Cavities may or may not be within your control. Genetics does play a role. Regardless, this definitely sounds like something you do not want to ignore.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Just my two cents...i think if it was one cavity, sedation wouldn't be necessary but You are talking alot of decay happening in their little mouths.
Considering the severity, putting them under and fixing it all at once makes sense to me.

It is too bad that it's so expensive,but if you don't take care of the baby teeth and get the mouth healthy the decay will spread to the new teeth.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

When we brought our 3 boys home from Russia, they were just turned 4, nearly 6 and 7. The 4 and 6 year old were delayed so close to your kids ages in many ways. Their teeth were AWFUL. The smell coming out of the 7 yr olds mouth from rotting teeth - man, you couldn't believe it. We had kids with their teeth literally rotting out. I don't think we paid 1/2 that for ALL THREE kids! Granted, we had insurance, but we have the crappiest dental insurance imaginable. We did the procedures in smaller chunks with no sedation. Why in the world would you want to sedate a 3 yr old? Pediatric dentists should know how to work with wiggly kids and not have to sedate them. Plus, if your kids are "prone" (I have no idea if you are a bad mom or a great mom with kids with crappy teeth) to cavities, going to the dentist is going to be somewhat common for them. You can't sedate them every time they go.

BTW - my dad is an anesthetist (retired now) and he always said that a person should always avoid anesthesia whenever possible, and especially young children, the elderly, and people predisposed to breathing problems.

Find a new pediatric dentist - one that will allow you to bring your children in multiple times and have small amounts of work done at a reasonable price using laughing gas and/or Novocain.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

That sounds like an outrageous amount of money. BTW...my girls ate all that stuff too but don't have cavities. My husband is 45 and has never had a cavity. Some people are just more susceptible. Don't beat yourself up but do get that second opinion.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I see you already have a solution path. I just wanted to tell you that I have a nephew who had to have extensive work done when he was 5 or so. Some of his baby teeth had visible rot. The thing is, both of his parents also have weak-enamel teeth and a host of problems because of it. It was basically inevitable for the kid, and it was fast. He went from fine at one appointment to shockingly bad by the next.

It is not your fault.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I don't know what dentistry costs in your area, but I do want to ask you if your children are drinking fluordinated water. If they aren't you really need to get them supplements. No matter how careful you are with their teeth, if there is no fluoride in their water, they'll get cavity after cavity after cavity...

You need to find different dentists. This one is just too expensive and too eager to sedate small children. See if you can find a Children's Hospital dentist who owns his or her own practice. That's what I used to do with my kids. This man loved children and worked at the hospital, and had his own private practice. He used laughing gas (not sedation) for children which my own children had with teeth extraction and fillings. The cost of laughing gas is a fraction of the cost of sedation.

When we were kids, we had teeth filled and pulled WITHOUT being put under. Parents had expectations of their children and worked through all this with them. Parents and dentists talked together, dentists were kind to children and didn't strap them down and work on them while they screamed, and children got the work done. When you have ped dentists who don't want the "work" of calming children, some resort to putting kids under, strapping them, not working with parents. You don't have to fall for that.

Tell your children that they have to get their teeth fixed so that their mouths won't hurt. Do NOT let them fuss in the dentist chair. Tell them in no uncertain terms that they WILL behave. I made it perfectly clear to my kids that if they didn't cooperate with the dentist, that they would lose a beloved privilege. I also told them that if they were good for the dentist, we'd go to their favorite toy store afterwards. Carrot and stick approach...

At home I prepped my kids and showed them the laughing gas mask they would wear, and they practiced putting it on so that they wouldn't get scared of the mask. My younger son fell asleep while his two front teeth were being pulled. My older son was very apprehensive (his personality), but it was enough medicine for him to get through the procedures. This is much more safe than putting them under with sedation, and cheaper too.

Keep researching. You don't have to pay $6000 for fillings.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Yes, it is normal for a pediatric dentist to put the kids to sleep while doing more than one procedure. It's just flat out easier on the kiddo. I don't think you're being scammed at all.

I suggest you talk to your insurance provider and find out if there is another pediatric dentist on your list. Then make an appointment and get a quote from them too.

All in all your insurance should pay a massive portion of this since sedation dental is not the same as just a regular dental appointment.

By the way, if you don't do the sedation how much would you save?

Each filling is going to be a cost, each section of the mouth will be a different appointment because they most likely will NOT do all the teeth at the same sitting...it will take a long time and your kiddo will be in that chair way too long going through that. So multiple appointments for each kid would be better for them.

So you'd have multiple appointments, multiple days at the dentists office, and you'd still be paying nearly the same cost because they'll still need gas sedation. Might be a little less but it's still sedation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Providence on

For baby teeth run.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Go get a 2nd opinion at another dentist. Take your kid's xrays with you. See if their price is different. We use a family dentist and not a pediatric dentist and I notice that my friends who use a pediatric dentist say they always want to sedate. My kids have never had to be sedated for cavities being filled. If your dentist is good with kids they usually do not need to sedate, but I guess it depends on how many cavities there are. The sedation will make the price go up a lot. We have been very happy with our family dentist. Our kids have not minded getting a cavity filled...the dentist and his assistant do a great job of distracting them. A dentist might want to do one cavity at a time if they do not use sedation. Do your kids brush with a fluoride toothpaste and floss? Our kids also use a rinse with fluoride as well. This helps a lot. The other thing out dentist did on our son was put on a dental sealant...it really has helped keep his teeth cavity free!

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answers from Anchorage on

A filling here is under $300 each with insurance covering 80%, sedation is $225 for every 15 minutes, so the price seems comparable, but that is a lot of cavities. I would get a second opinion for sure, and once the work is done see about getting their teeth sealed to help prevent further decay.

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answers from San Antonio on

Get a second opinion. Some people live by a pediatric dentist for kids...I use a family dentist. We all go to see him.

It is around $90-100 per filling. He will give them laughing gas and if they are really scared liquid valium for more than two fillings.

He also has a wait and see approach on teeny tiny cavities. If we can see them on x-ray and they are very very small. We brush very well and make sure they are not expanding...then take into account when the tooth is due to fall out.

A cleaning is around $100 and sealant which we have only needed once was about $100 per kid. They stopped getting cavities after the sealant was applied.

We eat very healthy, they brush and floss...we do have a bad genetic lottery on teeth. As they do tend to get cavities...our dentist explained it is a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 thing. So don't ever skip on the other two items.

My daughter had an expander and a year of orthodontic treatment for $2800. For sure get a second opinion.

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answers from Springfield on

my kid went from zero to 8 cavities in a 6 month timespan (the first 6 months of first grade.) his dentist filled 4 and is watching the other 4 she used topical numbing (oragel) before the novocaine needle. my 6 yr old did great and we have had no issues.
we have insurance that covers kids dental so i don't know the cost but 6grand seems outrageous. i have numerous avities, and 3 wisdom teeth that need extraction (one needing oral surgeon to extract) and my quote was not quite that high. (no insurance, just a discount program)
so i am glad you got a second opinion.

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answers from Chicago on

always always always get multiple opinions, for you, your kids, house projects, car repairs etc

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answers from Los Angeles on

Good to see you spoke with a family dentist. I would also try to get a second opinion from a pediatric dentist.

I brush and floss my kids' teeth twice a day. They also occasionally eat and drink what you mentioned (minus the fruit roll ups). My daughter's a few months shy of turning 5 and my son is 2. No similar treatment plans have been advised by our pediatric dentist.

With that said, anything is possible. It's not impossible for young children to get cavities. It's possible that the way their teeth are and/or their genes make them more prone to getting cavities. So again, get a second opinion from a pediatric dentist and ask them if the way you're brushing their teeth is acceptable -- our pediatric dentist rubs purple/magenta liquid (not sure what it is exactly) over the surfaces of their teeth, which sticks to the portions of their teeth that have not been brushed well. So the parts of the teeth that are not clean are purple and I can see exactly the parts that I should focus on/do better when I'm brushing their teeth.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

It's always good to get a second opinion, but in my experience, this cost is in line with the work that needs to be done - ($3K per kid for sedation and fixing multiple cavities). I think the bill was about $2000 for one of mine last year and he had fewer cavities than yours. At ages 3 and 5, the sedation is pretty much required when there are multiple cavities to be fixed. There is no way a child that young can sit perfectly still with their mouth open for the time that it takes to do the dental work.

FWIW - no judgement here. I breastfed that kid for 18 months and never put him to bed with a bottle or sippy cup. He has 1 cup of juice with breakfast but mostly drinks water, doesn't even like milk. Teeth are brushed twice a day. Teeth cleaned and fluoride applied by the family dentist every 6 months. Fluoride in the water. And nothing different from his brother, who is older and has never had a cavity. Some kids are just predisposed to get them.

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answers from Seattle on

My lord. My child had cavities and I could never SEE them unless they were an x-ray! Your children's little teeth are rotting.
Occasional juice and candy are not the culprits here. My kids drink juice, eat candy, ice cream, gatorade, and other fruit snacks and I have never seen a cavity. Their dental care or lack of dental care is the issue.
Have you never taken them to the dentist? Have they never had sealants?
If you have dental insurance and have just never taken them, I hope you learned a lesson. If you do NOT have dental care....get some! If you make less then a certain amount then your children are covered (for now) once you apply for medicaid for them. Get online and figure that out NOW.
ALSO...I googled how much it would cost to get a cavity filled and the price for the silver (ALmagam) was $120-$150 per tooth. IV sedation or general anesthesia was $700-$1000.
Sounds like you are being gouged. I would look for a community health center in your area...http://www.freedentalcare.us/ci/fl-sarasota (this website has free or low cost dental care in your area).
You need to be your own advocate!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

2nd opinions are always best. Also check your area for a university or college with a Medical/Dental school. Dental students are being trained under supervision. I did that years ago for myself. Had a great experience.

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answers from Atlanta on

WOW at the judgment from some other moms on here. You probably are being scammed & since you mentioned you would be getting a second opinion, consider a holistic dentist. Research Dr. Weston Price's work as well as Rami Nagel's. A recent Australian study also concluded that interventions such as "drilling & filling" are usually not necessary, even in adult teeth. You'll find case after case of parents' success stories in healing cavities and decay, even severe visible decay. What you describe does not sound severe and your little ones' teeth are certainly not rotting. Also, fluoride is toxic & been found to weaken teeth & lower IQ scores in children. If it's not something our bodies can derive from nature, we do not need it. You are clearly a good parent since you are concerned about your childrens' dental care & are even reaching out to other moms for advice & considering second opinions rather than blindly following the advice of one greedy dentist who wants to sedate your young children & drill away their precious teeth. Keep in mind that once you start dental interventions, you can't undo that damage & heal those teeth. You'll have to research & decide which path to follow because you can't effectively combine the two...

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answers from Chicago on

Good advice so far.

I also think it's a good idea to talk to your pediatrician and friends parents.
Another resource may be your school district or village hall. We have a mobile county dentist that comes to the schools and provides some basic services free or at discounted prices.

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answers from Denver on

I would definitely get a second opinion. The dental industry is fiercely competitive - I guess they're graduating too many dentists! I have gone to a number of different dentists since I don't have insurance. I have bought Groupons for cleanings.... You wouldn't believe the "work" that has been recommended by some dentists - I have never had a cavity and I take meticulous care of my teeth. Other dentists will say everything looks great and a few have told me that since my teeth are in such good condition I could wait 1 year before my next cleaning. Go figure!
Buyer beware!

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