There are ways to make comparisons in finding a dentist
If you don’t have a dentist, finding one should be at the top of your health care plan.
If you need a good dentist, Twin Cities Consumers’ Checkbook can help you find one. Our independent non-profit organization surveyed thousands of consumers in the Twin Cities area about their experiences with local dentists.
Of the hundreds who received at least 10 ratings, many were rated “superior” for “overall quality of care and services” by more than 95% of patients surveyed. In contrast, others have obtained equally favorable ratings from 65% or less of their patients surveyed.
Until October 5, Checkbook is offering free access to its unbiased reviews of area dentists for quality and price to Star Tribune readers via Checkbook.org/StarTribune/Dentists.
If you don’t have dental insurance, you need to check the prices. Checkbook undercover shoppers have seen big differences in fees between local dental practices. For example, charges for a routine exam and cleaning for an established patient ranged from $54 to $284, and charges for a new porcelain crown for an adult molar, including the post and core, ranged from 1 $150 to $2,338.
Ask about promotions and discounts. Some practices will offer discounts on certain procedures. Others advertise low-cost packages for new patients. Some will offer discounts to special groups, such as seniors, students, fire or police professionals, etc. You don’t have to give up quality to use a dentist who charges low fees. The checkbook revealed that many dentists who receive high marks for patient care also charge lower than average fees.
More important than anything the dentist can do for your mouth is what you can do for yourself. Your dentist or hygienist should explain in detail the correct brushing and flossing techniques and give you advice on choosing a toothbrush, dental floss, toothpaste and toothpaste. other supplies. Equally important, the dentist should periodically have you demonstrated your brushing and flossing techniques so they can suggest improvements.
If a dentist recommends a treatment, always ask for a full description of all alternatives. Keep in mind that because various treatments require more or less of the dentist’s time – and therefore higher or lower costs – advice may be influenced by personal interest. Beware if a new dentist recommends many more treatments than the previous one. For example, if suddenly a lot of silver fillings need to be replaced, several teeth need to be crowned, or your gums need major surgery.
This is an area where Checkbook frequently receives complaints from surveyed patients. To help you decide on a treatment, your dentist should describe in detail the necessary corrections. A written treatment plan with costs will help you avoid an unpleasant price surprise and give you the flexibility to switch to a cheaper dentist, if necessary. Almost all dentists will provide free estimates.
Dentists should be willing to work out alternative payment plans or treatments if the costs are beyond your means. If the proposed treatment is important, consider getting a second opinion from a specialist. While general dentists often refer patients to specialists for difficult root canal treatment (endodontist), gum surgery (periodontist), moving multiple teeth (orthodontist) or extraction of impacted teeth (oral surgeon) , as some dentists become more and more business-hungry they try to tackle these tasks on their own. Not everyone is qualified to do so.
Check your health insurance plan for dental benefits, especially for dependents under age 19; the Affordable Care Act mandates pediatric dental coverage on individual and small group medical plans. Some Medicare Advantage plans include dental coverage, and many “consumer-oriented” and “high-deductible” health plans allow you to set aside funds for dental care.
If you don’t have dental insurance, but know you’ll soon need expensive dental work, consider signing up for a dental discount program. Checkbook has found that such plans often generate significant savings. But be aware that many top-notch dentists — many of them top-rated by Checkbook — don’t participate in these programs.
Consider asking for a warranty. Few dentists offer written warranties; more should – at least for major restoration work such as bridges and crowns. Even if they don’t provide a written guarantee, discuss your expectations and get them to verbally agree to replace the job that fails much sooner than normal, assuming you take care of your teeth properly. Regardless of your prior agreement, don’t hesitate to ask for a free replacement if a restoration doesn’t last as long as it should.
Twin Cities Consumers’ Checkbook magazine and Checkbook.org is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help consumers get the best service and the lowest prices. You can access Checkbook’s ratings of local dentists through October 5 at Checkbook.org/StarTribune/Dentists.