Hi Dr. Hall,
I had large amalgam filling, and my dentist took it out and put a crown on the tooth. While I was waiting for the crown, my temporary crown came off once. Then, after I got the permanent crown, that has come off three times in about six weeks. Three times!
The crown was also very much the wrong shade. It was like super white and my teeth a bit off white. I told him I wasn’t happy about that and he said he would change it for just under $400, so I said I’d live with it as I wanted to save money. I didn’t think that was fair but didn’t want to argue.
The last time the crown came off, I asked him what he planned to do, and he said he was going to get me a new crown. The scheduling person said he would deem it defective to the lab and replace it. I told her I didn’t feel like I should pay for it. I wasn’t going to return to him but since she said he would replace it I thought to just do it.
When I arrived for the appointment, he ended up drilling some more. He said he was shaping and putting posts in and making new molds. As I was leaving the scheduler told me that I actually owed money from going over my insurance—which I do not think is accurate at all—and that I owed $385. I think they tricked me into paying for the tooth.
The more I think about it the more upset I get. I cannot possibly imagine going back to him and having him work in my mouth after this. What should I do?!!!
– Susan from Philadelphia
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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Your story really takes the cake!
So it sounds to me like your dentist’s crown policy is this: You pay a certain amount for a crown for your tooth. Then, to get it the right color is an additional $400. Then, to get it to actually stay on will cost you another $385.
I don’t think so.
Part of the service a dentist delivers when they do a crown on a tooth is that they will match the color with your existing teeth, and they will actually get it to stay on. To bring this to more familiar ground for consumers, let’s make an analogy with a common consumer product, let’s say a refrigerator. Let’s say the appliance store sells you a refrigerator, and when you take it home you discover there are two problems with it. One is that it gives off a nasty odor inside that stinks up all the food inside. The other is that it isn’t actually cold inside the refrigerator. So you complain to the appliance store and they tell you that they can fix the stink for an additional $400, And they can make it actually be cold inside for another $385. There’s no way they could get away with that. Just like it’s essential for a refrigerator to keep your food cold and to not make it stinky, it’s essential for a dental crown to stay on your tooth and to be at least somewhat close in color to your other teeth.
So what do you do? You have several options for dealing with this dishonest dentist.
First step is that I wouldn’t pay the $385. If you have already paid that and it has been with a credit card, I would contact your credit card company and see if you can get that charge reversed. There’s no way they could enforce this surprise billing on you.
Next, for sure I wouldn’t set foot in that office again.
And then I would find another dentist to help you get a refund from your dentist and get this tooth fixed right. I’d be happy to help you with that. You haven’t told me what tooth this is, but unless it’s one of your front teeth, you wouldn’t necessarily need an expert cosmetic dentist. Email me back, or use the comment form at the bottom of this page and I’d be happy to help you find a competent, honest dentist to fix this. If you need a dentist who accepts your insurance, we can deal with that, too.
This other dentist may be able to talk to your dentist and get this resolved. If not, it sounds to me like you have plenty of leverage. What your dentist has done is below the recognized standard of care, and if he refuses to correct it, he could face dental board discipline. So tell him that if he doesn’t give you your money back you’ll report him to the board. You also have leverage with your insurance company. Since he didn’t deliver a professionally acceptable service for you, the insurance company doesn’t owe him anything, and they have several ways they can get that money back.
And then, of course, I think you have a duty to let others know the problem you had with this dentist. Leave a well-written review on Google, or Yelp, or any online review platform that you have used before. If you’re new to writing reviews, do it on Google.
And don’t hesitate to get back with me if you have any difficulty with any of these steps.
– Dr. Hall
You may be interested to read my other post “Why Your Crown Fell Off.”
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.
Oh I feel sorry for Susan and her crown problem. That is probably why I am so scared for my 4 crowns in 2 weeks! Ouch! I had an upper way back tooth root canal done 3 times in 25+ yrs. Never could a doctor reach the tip of the nerve. which caused daily zaps of pain. I wanted to keep that temporary crown since I continued to have pain. This new doctor finally pulled it and sure enough the very tip of the nerve came out. All those years with same temporary crown and 3 root canals! He is the doctor who wants me to slowly (money problems) work on a couple crowns at a time. Heck I’ll be 80 by the time we’re done! Why can’t a patient insist on dentures?? Especially when I have fear of dentists!