Is my dentist upselling me?

There’s something that’s come to my attention recently that I wanted to address – upselling patients on dental procedures they don’t need. This is something that patients are very wary about. They may come in for a cleaning and their dentist will tell them that they need $20,000 worth of dental work that they weren’t expecting.

To be clear, this isn’t necessarily upselling. There are instances where a patient may have been away from the dentist for some time or has an issue that has been progressing over many years. In that case, it’s the dentist’s job to educate the patient and go over their treatment options.

This is a tough scenario for the dentist, especially when the patient is unaware of their dental issues. The patient may be offended or become defensive at the news of their diagnosis. Yet, as a dentist it is our job to deliver this news while maintaining the patient’s trust.

So, how do you tell the difference between upselling and educating? If you’re unsure of your recent dental diagnosis, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you trust your dentist?

It’s important to find a dentist that you trust. However, building that trust takes time and in the meantime, you’ll still need to address your dental issues. If you suspect that your dentist may be upselling you, the first question you should ask yourself is, “Do I trust them?” If you’re unsure, go with your gut.

It’s the dentist’s job to make you feel comfortable with their diagnosis and treatment recommendations. This includes answering your questions, providing additional reading materials and including you in the treatment plan. If you haven’t found a dentist that nurtures this type of relationship with his or her patients, I would urge you to shop around for a new provider. Read online reviews and find someone with a strong reputation in your area. It has been my experience that there are far more trustworthy dentists than not. The trick is finding one that you feel comfortable with.

2. Is there evidence to support their findings?

X-rays don’t lie. If your dentist tells you that you need a filling or a root canal, but cannot show you the area of concern on the x-ray, that should be a red flag. The technology used in dental offices today is extremely advanced and even minor problems should appear on a patient’s x-rays.

I’ve heard stories about people going in for a cleaning and their dentist tells them that they need to come back for a deep cleaning. If this happens to you, ask to see the areas of concern. The dentist should show you teeth where building has accumulated and gum pockets are more than three millimeters deep. For patients with inflamed gums or buildup along the gum line, a deep cleaning may be necessary, and the evidence will prove this.

If the answer to either of these questions is no, I would highly recommend that you get a second opinion and find a dentist that you trust. In my experience, upselling patients is more the exception than the rule, but it can never hurt to get a second opinion.

If you’ve gotten a diagnosis recently that you are unsure of, feel free to call our offices at (813) 689-4226 to schedule a consultation. We’re happy to go over any questions that you may have and provide you with a comprehensive dental exam.

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