Not long ago, after moving to a new community, I went to a dental office recommended by a neighbor. I had no dental problems, just wanted to get my teeth cleaned and find a family dentist. So while I’m lounging in an examination chair in one of those little rooms dentists have, a nicely dressed woman came in with a clipboard. I thought she was going to take my history. Instead she asked me how I would like my smile to look.
Now I’ve never had a problem with my smile. When I smile at people they generally smile back. Maybe a few of my teeth are a little crooked, but they’re all mine and they seem to work pretty well. So I told the woman I was happy with my present smile and was there to get my teeth cleaned. Not surprisingly, the woman had a litany of persuasive reasons my life would change for the better with a breathtaking smile. I was resolute, had my teeth cleaned, and never went back. Cosmetic dentistry must be the big moneymaker.
Dentists are changing. It seems they are beginning see themselves in non-traditional dentist type businesses. The dentist’s customers (patients) are a little behind the curve here and are only beginning to realize some practitioners may be laying on the costs a little thick. I’m surprised by the number of people who would never think of saying no to their dentist. Either they are intimidated or they’re the ones with the expensive dental insurance.
One of the time honored dental charges are x-rays. If you haven’t had x-rays within the last year there is always some prophylactic reason to have them. Happily most dentists offices are now asking if you want them. Before they always said (or a least implied) that you have to have them. I always say no. If I’m not experiencing any tooth or gum pain and no bleeding, then my body is telling me things are okay.
My present dentist is kind of a phantom. When you go to his office you see all the other employees: the receptionist, the hygienists and other dental techs, but usually not the dentist. Which is good because if the phantom comes into see you it usually costs about a hundred bucks extra. If you don’t see him, the hygienist does her job and you get out for $85. The dental exam is kind of sneaky. The dentist doesn’t say “Now I’m going to probe your gums with this sharp pointy tool for about eight minutes and then charge you $100 bucks”. He doesn’t ask if that’s okay, he just does it and you find out when they give you the bill. So you have to learn to ask what they are doing and to say no if you don’t want it.
Just recently I went for a normal cleaning and the hygienist spent a couple of minutes probing my gums with the sharp pointy tool. Later I went to the desk to pay the bill and (shock & awe) the regular $85 had turned into $175 dollars. Where did the extra $90 come from? A periodontal exam…by the hygienist. You’re kidding I said. I didn’t pay for that.
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