So the dentist you have been seeing for 20 years retires. You have never had a cavity in that time.

You look for a new dentist and feel good about things when you schedule your first appointment. But then suddenly something funny happens. This new dentist points to an x-ray and says that you have a cavity (or several!) and that you need to have them fixed.

Is this dentist lying about cavities? Would a dentist scam you or your insurance?

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Well… it depends.

Fraud in dentistry does unfortunately exist, and there are certainly some dentists out there who would like about what sort of dental care you need in an effort to juice their own profitability. As one example, we read a few stories about dentists who knew how to stay just off the radar enough with their insurance billings while still proceeding with unnecessary treatment.

But there is also another much less malicious reason that a dentist might *seem* like they’re scamming you. What is more likely is that your new dentist has a different opinion about when dental care (things like getting cavities taken care of) should be addressed.

In other words, two dentists can look at the same x-ray and come away with two very different diagnoses much in the same way visiting two doctors for the same issue might. It’s more likely that the two dentists are simply practicing different, and less likely that one is lying.

Most dentists, who have spent a large sum of money on dental school, are most likely not going to risk scamming insurance for extra cash when the risk of getting caught is so high.

With that being said, here are some things you can keep an eye out for to ensure that your dentist isn’t scamming you:

  • A high-pressure pitch that some procedure is of the utmost importance – Be on the lookout for a suddenly necessary procedure that will cost you hundreds and your insurance thousands of dollars. While this can happen, it is going to be worth getting a second opinion from another dental professional.
  • Routinely recommending treatment not covered by insurance – Most necessary dental care is covered by insurance. And while this is more a guideline and not a rule, if your dentist is always asking for cash to cover procedures, they might be trying to avoid the scrutiny of an insurance board.
  • Out of the blue recommendations – While it might seem somewhat normal to get a handful of things recommended with each visit, most people’s teeth are probably fine until the next appointment. If your dentist is pushing some big new recommendation, be wary and again, hut for a second opinion.
  • “Deals” on important procedures – Pricing and insurance are pretty standardized in dental care. With that in mind, watch out for dentists slinging deals. It’s just not likely that a new dentist is going to offer big discounts. Be careful here.

Really, though, the number one thing to make sure you aren’t getting scammed by your dentist is to ask plenty of questions. Also don’t be afraid to defer a procedure to a later date to give yourself time to research. Any honest dentist will be happy to let you do this.

If you are worried your dentist is scamming you and you’d like a second opinion or to maybe find a new dentist entirely, use our dentist search tool to find trusted dentists in your area

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