My husband broke #9 (left upper front tooth) off at the gum line. Our dentist is Cigna provider. He said he would extract the tooth and do a 4-unit bridge covering teeth #s 7-10. We paid him $1966 as our portion after insurance.
When we went in for the extraction he changed to doing a root canal over the tooth and sewed gums over the root. We asked him to get a pre-authorization from the insurance. He balked but finally did it. Six months later we find out that the insurance won’t cover any bridge because his upper arch has three teeth already missing (two molars on the rights side, plus the front tooth) and the left first molar needs to be extracted. So the dentist will now be charging another $1000. After much discussion, he will give us a refund, but only if we sign a release saying we won’t hold him responsible for any problems with #9. The temporary “flipper partial” he provided has broken twice and he wants $450 for it unless we sign the release. Should we sign it or not?
– Marion from California
(I searched the term “dental release.”)
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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I hope you have figured out by now that you need to change dentists, regardless of what you do.
I would be threatening to sue this dentist and certainly wouldn’t be signing any releases. He clearly is worried that he has done something wrong and could be sued. Here is what I would do, exactly. I would change the terms of the bargain to this extent. I would tell him that I don’t feel inclined to sue you and probably won’t, provided you give me the refund, but I’m not going to sign any release. But if you don’t give us the refund, I will be going tomorrow to talk to a lawyer. I hope your malpractice insurance is up-to-date.
There is no way he is going to be able to collect the $450 for the dental flipper that has broken twice, so there is no need to even talk about that.
Other leverage you have is to report him to Cigna. They can’t be too happy with how he is acting. And you could report him to the dental board. You could let him know that you won’t do either of those if he gives you your refund.
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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.
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