Saturday, June 29, 2013

Weekly Whine: Bad Dentists

Not that there aren't tons of bad physicians out there who do awful things, but I feel like somehow bad dentists are a special, unique brand of awful.

For most of my life, I used my family dentist, who was an old friend of my father's and I trusted him completely. When I was in my last year of med school I needed a routine dental appointment and just picked a random dentist in the area that took my insurance.

Huge mistake.

The guy was a recent grad, and he did that annoying thing where he spent the whole time asking me questions while his fingers were in my mouth and I couldn't answer. Then he insulted me for having gone to med school and talked about how much he partied in dental school. Then he spent the rest of the time trying to convince me that if I didn't have my wisdom teeth out now, they would become infected and get a huge abscess while I was in residency. I told him my trusted family dentist said they were fine and they weren't causing me any discomfort, but he told me that they were definitely going to get infected.

On the way out, he asked me if I wanted to make an appointment for him to take them out. I said no thank you.

Sadly, I did not learn my lesson. The next year, I made an appointment with a random dentist again. He talked me into a root planing somehow. I didn't know what it was and thought it was just like a cleaning. I asked him if he'd need to numb me up and he said no, which was a blatant lie. I told him I had a dinner I was going to that evening and he said I'd be fine. I was not fine. I had to cancel all my plans for the night. I felt like I had been lied to and assaulted by him. Also, he told me I needed to have my wisdom teeth out.

From then on, I have always asked for recommendations from a friend before going to a dentist. And never had another problem (and nobody else thought my wisdom teeth were a problem). Except....

When my daughter was almost 4, I took her to a dentist for the first time. I got a recommendation for a good dental practice, but somehow there were two pediatric dentists a block away from each other and I got mixed up and took her to the wrong one. She did have a cavity and the dentist wanted to put her under sedation to fix it. I was like no way. I took her to the guy down the street and he fixed it without sedation, and she was perfectly well behaved.


  1. For years my family and I went to my husbands family dentist. Then he got a new associate, who we somehow got pawned off on. We finally switched the day the associate mixed up my 2 sons and drilled and filled a tooth on the wrong patient. Argh! At least he told me. But how could that happen?! I asked my oral surgeon friend for a recommendation, and we now go to the dentist he takes his family

    So much potential for abuse...a cash business. Oh, you need to have all those silver fillings removed and replaced with porcelain ones, Which only last for 10 years. Don't get me started...

  2. I had one dentist tell me that a badly damaged and infected tooth "might" be saved by a root canal, or I could have it pulled. The idea that I would go through the time, expense, and pain of a root canal only to have it not work? I said I'd have it pulled.

    The dentist said, "How could you say that? Your parents spent all that money on braces for you as a child, what would they think?"

    I replied, "For crying out loud, I'm 35 yrs old, I don't care what mommy thinks anymore." got out of the chair and walked out.

  3. I could go on and on about dishonest dentists. I've had dentists fill cavities that somehow cannot be detected on xrays now, and have been told by subsequent dentists that no cavities were ever filled. I've been told that I need to see a periodontist and then told by the next dentist that I don't. Turns out all my friends who went to that dentist received that recommendation. My husband has been told that he had a cavity that had to be filled, and the next dentist told him there was no cavity.

    Maybe it gets better once you show them that you're a repeat patient? I don't know, I think going with a friend's recommendation like what you do is probably the safest bet.

    1. The dentists and periodontists must be in cahoots---it seems to be a common scam for random dentists that my family & friends go to recommending periodontists or $300 (not covered by insurance) deep periodontal cleanings. The next dentist they go to (the good ones) concur that its a scam.

      I feel like a lot (most?) pediatric dentists insist on sedation for cavity fillings in 4-6 year olds---I haven't been in the position but I would definitely refuse and find a new provider if my older son needed cavities filled since I know he could sit still. I recall having several fillings at that age and never got anything but novacaine.

  4. The dentist I saw a couple of years ago really pushed getting veneers. My teeth are straight, still a nice white color even with all of my coffee drinking and I had my first small cavity in my late 30's. I think I have good teeth.
    She continued on pushing and then asked, "Don't you want a pretty smile?"
    "I thought I already had a pretty smile."
    That was the last time I saw her. Putz!

  5. I could write a book on horrible dentist experiences! And the fact that the orthodontist my mother took me to when I was in 5th grade was a complete quack, which resulted in permanent dental issues and a second set of braces when I was 20.

  6. At one point, I hadn't been to the dentist in a few years because every time I went, I always needed work done despite being diligent about oral hygiene. I always needed a filling, deep cleaning, or a fluoride treatment. I used to go to a large group practice where you never saw the same dentist at each visit. I had one dentist tell me that I needed a root canal & crown. Saved up $245 to get it done only to have a completely different dentist tell me I should get a filling instead. After the cavity was filled, I explained to the front office I didn't get the root canal & they REFUSED to refund the difference (I paid when I signed in). The office manager I told me that I may have to come back for root canal so they're just going to hold on to my money. Of course, I went ballistic, got my money back & quickly switched to another practice.

  7. Yes, dentists are much more variable than doctors. occasionally there is a bad apple with physicians too, but I don't feel like there is this terribly subjective range of what absolutely HAS to be done. Like, is there a cavity or isn't there?!

    I had one dentist give me "just a little" pain medication and I could just tell him when I felt pain and he would give me more... Needless to say I ended up with about 6 shots because I was already a tremendous dental weenie even before that.