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Why I changed dentists

October 24th, 2011 at 02:05 pm

OK, I did it. I left what was probably my favorite healthcare provider and made an appointment with a new dentist later this week.

When I called to cancel the appointment I'd made with my old dentist, I made a point to explain why I was cancelling the appointment. She said she'd pass it on and sounded like she completely understood.

Still out of work, it's getting harder for me to justify spending $150 for a routine teeth cleaning every 6 months. Don't get me wrong, I feel it's very important to have the cleanings and believe it's one reason I have a pretty healthy set of wisdom teeth extractions, no crowns, dentures or anything aside from a bunch of fillings from when I was much younger and had a sweet tooth (still do).

So I responded to an ad by a dentist who was offering a "fall special" for new patients. Exam, x-rays and cleaning for $90. That's a $60 savings over my current dentist.

The woman on the line said the price would be the same without x-rays, which I don't plan to get. (Until about 10 years ago, I would always get the annual set of x-rays, per dentist recommendations. But not ONCE in all those years did those x-rays ever show anything. I suspect the x-rays helped put my dentist's kids through college, but didn't do much for me except douse my body with a whole lot more radiation than I needed.)

The woman at the new dentist said his normal price was $174, so unless he extends his fall special, I will have to return to my old dentist 6 months from now or find someone new. But even then, it still saves me $60 right now.

I do this with great reluctance because there is no other healthcare, aside from my gynecologist, that I'm more attached to with my current provider. I don't often see the dentist himself for more than 5 minutes as he gazes into my mouth. He did one filling for me a few years ago and he did have an incredibly gentle touch. I was amazed.

The hygienist who cleans my teeth is about my age and is so pleasant and talkative, that I feel like I'm going to see an old friend, one who just happens to be cleaning my teeth. I've been going to her for 16 years now, so it's hard to try someone new, but money is the issue.

I understand if dentists, like most self-employed healthcare providers, want to make sure their income stays the same or even increases. But most of their patients are seeing their income stagnate or decline, sometimes dramatically, as in my case. So while I'm not yet willing to forego my twice a year cleanings, I will take steps to reduce the cost.

it reminds me of my primary care doc, who has now sent out a second survey to his patients asking them what they think of his going the concierge healthcare route, meaning, they charge patients several thousand dollars a year and in return you get immediate access to the doctor and get all kinds of other perks. My doctor is obviously trying to eliminate the hassles of insurance paperwork while boosting his income. I wasn't thrilled with the idea. Why should I pay more money for things like on-time appointments, which I should be getting already?

3 Responses to “Why I changed dentists”

  1. laura Says:

    We left our dentist for a time because they required full payment of services and then submitted the dental insurance forms so reimbursement would go to you. Our dentist friend simply charged your portion and was willing to wait for reimbursement directly from the insurance company.

    I totally get where you are coming from - money is money, especially when it is limited, and we must save where we can.

  2. LuckyRobin Says:

    Are you in a high cost of living area? Those both (the regular prices) seem high to me. Our dentist charges $110 for cleaning and exam, and $80 of that is to the hygenist. This is about the going rate ($100 to $120) for the area.

  3. patientsaver Says:

    yeah, its very high cost area...

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