Hello Dr. Hall,
In August 2020 I went to a dentist for a consult for a new overdenture over my 4 existing mini implants. I explained I would be leaving the state around the first part of October 2020, therefore wanted to know what time period it would take for him to complete the new denture. His answer was 3 weeks. On week 9 (Oct. 7th) I went for the final denture. It did not fit properly on the implants, so he forced it. I went home with it and tried to eat bowl of noodles, which was very difficult.
I was able to take it out with extreme difficulty, but when I tried to reinsert, it would not go in.
So I called his office the next day (Oct 8th). He was out of office so another dentist saw me. He agreed it needed work done on it as the holes were not drilled out properly around the attachments. One side of the denture is lower and the teeth are slanted slightly backward.
On Oct. 14th his office called said he is ordering new “gaskets” for the attachments and that should fix everything!
At this point I am very dissatisfied with the denture and have no time left before I have to leave town.
In your opinion do I have the right to ask for a refund, as I cannot wait for a remake?
– BJ from Pennsylvania
I found your website searching for How to ask a dentist for a refund.
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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Thanks for a very interesting question, which is partly dental and partly legal.
Let’s address the legal question first. You made an agreement (it would qualify legally as a contract) with this dentist that he would make this overdenture for you in three weeks, and he wasn’t able to deliver, so he broke the agreement. So yes, he should refund your money. And it’s not like he just barely missed it—he was off by a lot. It was promised in three weeks and delivered in nine, and when delivered it didn’t meet any standard of acceptability.
And I will tell you what I tell others who are trying to position themselves to ask for a refund from a dentist who will be reluctant to give it. You have points of leverage. You can leave him a bad online review. We have data at Infinity Dental Web that show that 60 to 65% of prospective new patients will check online reviews before asking for an appointment, so these reviews can have a strong impact. If you want to sweeten the deal for him by offering to write a very nice review about his integrity if he makes this good for you.
The second point of leverage is complaining to the dental board. Dentists do not want to deal with the dental board, so this can be very effective.
The third is a malpractice lawsuit. Though your case doesn’t rise to that level and the monetary amount isn’t enough in my opinion to justify a lawsuit.
If there is dental insurance involved in paying for this, you have a fourth point of leverage in complaining to the insurance company.
Now to the dental part of your case. The dental problem is that this probably should have taken him about three weeks. The fact that it took nine reflects poorly on this dentist. And then that it doesn’t fit over the implants is a problem. Their offer of ordering new gaskets that is going to fix this problem is hollow because the other two big promises they made to you (an overdenture in three weeks and one that would actually fit) missed by a long shot.
One thing that comes to my mind is that implant dentistry is a very unregulated branch of dentistry. In dental school there is very little training for it, and dentists need to pursue some post-graduate training in order to really know what they are doing. So I suspect that this dentist was in over his head but didn’t want to share that with you. Mini implants aren’t very common, and I would be tempted to ask this dentist if he has ever worked with mini implants before.
So here’s what I would advise doing. I would start by being very nice in asking for a refund, telling him that you understand that he is in a difficult spot and offering to write a nice review about his integrity and everything you liked about their office. If you liked how the denture looked, you can write about that. Then, if he resists, I would start to get tough. I would start by asking if he has ever worked with mini implants before. I’d want specific information about how much experience he has with that. And then I would tell him that if he doesn’t help you, you’re going to file a complaint with the dental board.
I wish you luck, and would love to hear back from you on how this turns out.
– Dr. Hall
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