Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

October 1, 2018

Better to do nothing than cheap cosmetic dentistry


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Dear Dr. Hall,
I reside in Henderson, NV. I have four porcelain fused to metal crowns on my front teeth since I was 24 yrs old. In 2015, I wanted to update dental work, I ‘Kör whitened‘ my teeth, which made those crowns look bad. I visited a cosmetic dentist, Dr. Featherstone who you have listed on your website. At that time, my paltry insurance would not co-operate, so I didn’t stay with Featherstone. His billing assistant actually had a credit application there to apply for a loan. Plus, she said, we had to pay in advance, and if there were money left over at the end, they’d refund it. My husband & I slunk out of there, glad to be free of that.

Next, I visited Dr. Michael Wilson, the only other one on your Nevada list. He would not do four, only eight, saying about four, “You won’t like it.” At first I agreed to do it, right then and there, he measured for a laboratory wax-up version, $800. I backed out the next morning, and a week later went and picked up the model. He was decent about it, and we left the door open.

Well, from there, I went to my general dentist, Dr. F. Those original crowns from when I was young were big and long and gave me a big smile, in every picture all my life. Now, Dr. F’s version are short, greenish (I picked the wrong shade). His words were, “I’ll make sure you get the teeth that you want.” But, he couldn’t please me, and ended up giving it to his assistant. I mean, it was excruciating, going over it again and again. You finally just settle. These teeth are too short, when I wake up in the morning with mouth agape, you can’t even see any teeth (thus, it makes you look like an old person). She remarked, “Oh, you probably are looking on the internet, and expect these perfect teeth.” Yes, exactly. I had your examples and pictures in hand.

Anyway, here I am, three years later, still not sure where to turn. Thank you for letting me vent. I live with this. My husband raises his voice at just the very mention of it.

Thank you very much.
– LaRae from Nevada

LaRae,
Quite the story you have.

I’m confident that either Dr. Featherstone or Dr. Wilson would have done a beautiful job for you. I’ve seen work from both of them and have interviewed them both. It’s too bad that they were too expensive for you. Your case illustrates a point I often make—if you can’t afford quality cosmetic dentistry, it’s better to do nothing and save up to have it done right than to go cheap. If the first dentist who did the Kör bleaching knew what he was doing and was honest with you, he would have told you that the crowns wouldn’t bleach and the results would commit you to re-doing the crowns. It would have been good to have had a complete plan from an expert cosmetic dentist from the start.

About Dr. Wilson wanting to do 8 crowns instead of 4—we see this where good cosmetic dentists will disagree on how to proceed with a case and in some cases will turn down a case unless they can do it the way they think will turn out the best. When I was practicing, I was more like Dr. Featherstone where I might compromise on a case because a patient didn’t want to spend more to get the “perfect” result.

– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David 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 complete Internet marketing for dentists.

June 27, 2017

I’d like to see cost information on the dentist’s website


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Dr. Hall,
Thank you for providing all the dental cost information.

I wonder if Dentists would be willing to post their dental cost on their website so that we don’t waste their time by not being able to afford their fee. Western Dental post their fees online. I love it because I can compare prices before I make an appointment.

Gilroy from California

Dear Gilroy,
As you’ve noticed, some dentists do post cost information on their website. But most don’t.

The reason is that most dentists aren’t angling for the “cheap dental care” market. They know how to trim costs, use cheaper materials, do procedures faster—all of these would enable them to charge cheaper fees. They just don’t want to practice dentistry that way.

If that is what you’re looking for, I would look for that cost information online, because those will be the dentists who want to compete on price. But I wouldn’t recommend that, even if you’re looking to save money. Which is cheaper, a $150 filling that lasts 5 years, or a $220 filling that lasts 25 years? Now, I’m not implying that the higher fee dentist is necessarily better. But I’m pretty sure that the cheapest dentist isn’t going to use the best materials and the most careful technique.

I do think that it’s smart to avoid dentists with exorbitant fees. I will tell you what I did when I moved to a new city and was trying to size up my options in selecting a dentist. I called the office and asked for fees for a couple of common procedures, to see if they were excessive. I was prepared to pay more than the going rate, but I didn’t want a dentist who was going to charge, say, double. To me, dentists like that aren’t the most caring, and that’s what I wanted to avoid. I would suggest asking for the fees for:
• a routine cleaning
• a two-surface composite filling on a back tooth
• a crown on a back tooth

Comparing those fees should give you an idea of the going rate in your community and help you know where each particular dentist stands as far as affordability.

– Dr. Hall

Do you have a comment or a question or anything else to add? We’d love to hear from you. Enter your comment below.

Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question of your own.

About David A. Hall

Dr. David 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 complete Internet marketing for dentists.

June 1, 2016

Ridiculously expensive dental work

Filed under: Cosmetic dentistry costs,Hate mail — Tags: , — mesasmiles @ 6:47 pm

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Why is your dental work so ridiculously expensive? A front partial or even dentures are no where near as expensive. $800 or more per tooth is a price that most middle class families can’t afford. At $800 per tooth, four teeth would be $3200. At that price I can have many wonderful procedures done at my local dentist & here you are over-charging for a product that is a false representation of a what the wearer’s teeth condition actually is in the eye of outside observers. I’m appalled at your prices & you guys should be ashamed of charging such ridiculous amounts of money.
– Robert from Oklahoma

Robert,
I was struck by your comment, and while I am putting it in our “hate mail” category, I am not offended by the question or the premise. I think that deep down inside, you know the answer to your own question.

In my opinion, there is a place for cheap dentistry. There are ethical practitioners who try to keep their fees as low as they can while a clinic offering cheap dental carestill providing care with an acceptable level of quality. This clinic that I have pictured here doesn’t seem to be one of those places, but it might. But it is contrary to human nature to expect dentists who have driven themselves to provide the most beautiful smile makeovers for their patients to do so for cheap fees. Even those with a strong altruistic streak will charge fees that are above average. Some will charge whatever the traffic will bear and so will have fees three to five times the rates of their colleagues doing similar work. Some of the very high fee dentists will create work so meticulously perfect that there is no way they could charge less. That’s the nature of the market, which is a reflection of the variety of human nature.

On the whole, however, I think you will find that the cheapest of the dirt cheap dentists will not be as ethical a bunch as those who charge moderate fees.

A personal experience with discounted fees

On the issue of how to charge fees, I had an interesting learning experience in my dental practice. I was one of these dentists with a strong charitable streak, and I would feel sorry for patients who would come in with critical needs, who were willing to be treated but couldn’t afford what they needed. When I started, I would have my staff quote the regular fee and then offer a discount. We regularly had trouble with these patients. They became demanding and had a high tendency to complain about their services and even the discounted fee. What I did after I discovered this was that I would tell my staff not to tell the patient that this fee was discounted. We would discount it, sometimes charging only a fraction of the regular fee, but we would present it to the patient as “this is the fee,” as if it were the regular fee, without any mention of a discount. The complaints stopped. I’ll let you psychologists figure out that one. There is clearly a credibility gap in this world when you try to tell people you’re doing something out of the goodness of your heart. So I learned to just do it without making any attempt to trying to communicate to the patient that there was any “goodness of my heart” in the mix of what I was doing.

– Dr. Hall

Do you have a comment or a question or anything else to add? We’d love to hear from you. Enter your comment below.

Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question of your own.

About David A. Hall

Dr. David 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 complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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