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Dear Dr. Hall,
I recently went to a dentist to do a smile makeover, specifically because my four upper front teeth are misaligned and crowded. After he explained that cosmetic dentistry could correct the problem faster without the inconvenience of braces, I opted for that.
He said that a combination of bonding on #10 (left lateral incisor), a single veneer on #7 (right lateral incisor) and shaping would provide complete alignment, no crowding and an even smile. He also claimed he did shaping on the lower teeth – which I never discussed or mentioned about treating at a cost of 1.3k. He charged overall 9k for this work. When he declared it complete, the veneer was too small with a gap near the gum line, the teeth were still crowded and they remained uneven. When I asked him what would provide the outcome he originally described he said only 4 porcelain crowns on the upper teeth would, but at an additional cost of 7k, because he would need to do root canals in addition to placing crowns.
I went to another dentist for a second opinion and he advised me that his recommendation would have been to place 4 veneers to correct the original crowding and alignment problem. They also said that to correct the current problem I would still need the 4 veneers, no root canals necessary and no crowns necessary, just 4 veneers at a total cost of 4.5K.
My question is how do I successfully recover my 9K from the first dentist?
– Grant from New Jersey
Well, I guess we’ll add your experience to our list of cosmetic dentistry horror stories.
Just from what you’re telling me it sounds like the first dentist took you for a ride, not delivering work that was promised and leaving you with a very poor smile makeover. In my opinion, you should be entitled to a refund of what you paid, if you go about it right. But before I get into that, I have a real concern about your second dentist. How do you know the second dentist will deliver the attractive smile you are wanting? Do you realize that smile makeovers are not taught in dental schools? You might want to check my blog post, Why you shouldn’t ask your family dentist to do porcelain veneers.
I strongly suggest getting a third opinion from a dentist you know can do smile makeovers. You’re there in the New York City metropolitan area where you have a varied selection of excellent cosmetic dentists. You can go to our list, or find an accredited cosmetic dentist.
Now back to your question of getting a refund from the first dentist.
Start, of course, by just asking for one, with some gentle pressure. I address some pointers about this in my blog post, How to ask for a refund. If that doesn’t work, you need to apply more leverage. There are a series of steps, each one applying a little more pressure.
The next step would be, after you find your expert cosmetic dentist who can do a beautiful job with this, is to see if that dentist will call on your behalf and say that a refund would be appropriate. Dentists tend to be sensitive about what other dentists say about their work.
Unfortunately, it seems to me from what you’ve told me about his conduct so far that your dentist is one who is going to require more pressure than that and you’ll need to play hardball. The next step in escalating pressure against the dentist is to complain to the dental board. The step after that is to contact an attorney. For each of these steps, it is very helpful to have the backing of another dentist to document the problems with the earlier work.
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