When it comes to shopping, people love to get a bargain. It’s a thrill and they feel accomplished saving money on something they need. Unfortunately, people tend to do this with dentistry, as well. But there’s a big difference between affordable dental care and bargain dentistry.
During my career, I’ve witnessed the effects of bargain dentistry and they can be catastrophic.
Typically, we see this in patients who need extensive dental work. They’ve avoided the dentist for several years and now require extensive dental work in order to keep their teeth. Rather than prioritizing their dental needs to save money, they seek out what they believe to be more affordable dental care.
There are a few scenarios we typically see when patients seek out bargain dentistry.
1. Travel to Another Country
It’s not uncommon for people to seek out more affordable dental care in another country, specifically Mexico, South America or Asia. Many dentists in these areas offer packages that include airfare and hotel stay, along with low-cost dental work. This seems too good to be true, particularly for someone looking to change their smile.
There are several problems with this approach. The first being the lack of follow up care after the treatment is complete. If something should go wrong – and things do go wrong – you’re now thousands of miles away from your care team. In order to keep costs low, the provider is also likely to use lower quality materials and labs and do things quickly to decrease turnaround time.
2. Find a Cheap Dentist Nearby
With a number of dentists in your community, it’s also not uncommon for people to bargain shop affordable dental care nearby. More often than not, this search will lead patients to a discount dental center that offers low-cost dental work.
In my experience, these affordable dental centers are staffed with inexperienced dentists who are looking to learn new skills on the job. Oftentimes, the patient doesn’t know they are the guinea pig. All they see is the low price. Another problem with these centers is the high staff turnover, meaning you never know who you’ll see.
These high-volume practices are also not built for time-intensive cases such as cosmetic and restorative dentistry. With dentists seeing three times the number of patients as a typical practice, time is of the essence and your care will suffer.
3. Resort to Unlicensed Dental Work
The final scenario is perhaps the most shocking, but it does happen, typically as a last resort. There are times when I have looked in a patient’s mouth and thought, “I wasn’t taught that in dental school.” And when I ask the patient where they had the work done, they say it was done in someone’s garage.
This is not common, but it’s worth mentioning. Never, under any circumstance, should you receive dental work from an unlicensed individual – even if they were licensed at one time. In this scenario, the principles of science are rarely adhered to and the teeth are treated like a car part rather than a part of your body. I’ve never seen this work out for someone, ever.
While I don’t fault patients for seeking out an affordable dental care, I do worry they’re making a bad decision. If shortcuts are taken – and they usually are to keep costs down – the patient will compromise the health of their teeth and the aesthetics of their smile. So, in the end, did they really get a bargain? I can emphatically say no.
If you’re in need of restorative dentistry, or looking to make a change with cosmetic dentistry, find a reputable dentist in your area that can work with you to achieve your goals. Together, they can create a treatment plan that works for you and provide information on financing, if needed.
In need of cosmetic or restorative dental care? Contact us today to schedule an appointment.