Avoiding Dental Scams

Scammers are everywhere. Sometimes they are obvious, like the random e-mails promising millions of dollars for the exchange of a bank account number, and other times they are more subtle. One place most people do not expect to be scammed is at the dentist’s office but more and more people are becoming suspicious about the treatment and billing practices they have encountered after a trip to the dentist. With a little knowledge and pre-planning it is possible to protect yourself from dental scams.   One possible dental scam is for the charges to exceed the amount the dentist submitted to the insurance company, which is a breach of the contract between the dentist and the insurance. Insurance companies count on the patient to pay a portion of the services, usually the co-pay. If a dentist accepts a contract with an insurance company they have an accepted contracted fee, however, if the dentist accepts the insurance but never accepts the contract with the insurance company then the dentist submits their usual fee which is higher than the contracted amount. The insurance company only pays what is listed in the patients plan and then they are left to cover the rest.   The diagnosis of cavities that do not exist is a common dental scam that many patients fear. This could happen when a dentist diagnosis someone with more cavities than they have, if they have any at all. It is a difficult scam to prove because once the tooth is drilled to treat the cavity then the proof of the cavity existing or not is gone. Charging for multiple cleanings or only cleaning half of the mouth at a time is a questionable dental practice because most insurance only pay for one cleaning each year or six months. By breaking down what should be one single cleaning into multiple visits, the patient is left to cover the extra costs out of pocket.   Patients can protect themselves from dental scams by doing some preplanning before their dentist visit. The patient should know what their insurance covers and what it does not. It is not the dentist’s job to know what each of their patient’s insurance pays for. Call the insurance company before paying a bill that seems suspicious. A call after paying may help but it’s better to make the call before money changes hands. Get a second opinion before agreeing to a treatment that seems unnecessary or the diagnosis is questionable. Most insurance companies do provide coverage for second opinions.

Dr. Hazim is a member of the American Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. A graduate of Loyola University, Dr. Hazim has undergone continuing education at the Pankey Institute and has received accreditation from the Western Regional Examining Board.

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