The Low Down on Low Cost Dentistry


There was a time when advertising in Dentistry was illegal.  You couldn’t do it.  The Dental Board would allow a small sign saying you were a dentist and that was it.  It was either in the 70s or 80s when the rules changed.  Wow, and have they changed!  This blog is advertising.  This website is advertising.  It’s everywhere.  We are constantly being bombarded with ads in the paper, in the mail, Google, Facebook, on cars and even on the back of shopping carts.  There is a practice in Florida that pays a guy to spin a big tooth next to a busy intersection (I didn’t say all advertising is in good taste).  Some patients would be attracted to that office.  Others wouldn’t dare set foot in it.

Let’s specifically talk about promotions attached to fees.  Are they too good to be true?  I see ads for implants done for $999.  That’s about 40-50% lower than average around here.  It sounds great!  If I were a patient, why would I want to pay more if that doctor is going to do the job for less?  Is it too good to be true?

Well, it comes down to the details.  Most dental offices allow patients a certain amount of goodwill.  What I mean is if an implant fails, a new one is usually done at minimal or no charge.  If a crown breaks within a few years of placement, it’s usually redone for free.  Dentists are under no obligation to do any of this from a professional  standpoint (has your MD ever given you a refund when the drug he prescribed didn’t work)?  But we do it because it’s good business.  Now if you search out the doctor doing work for way less, are you going to get these benefits?  You better ask.  Will the doctor stand by his or her work?  How are complications handled?  Are the parts he uses made in the US?  Does that matter to you?  What’s his reputation in the community?  Will he file insurance for you?  Most importantly- will he be there in the future in case something happens?

Offering lower cost dentistry by increasing efficiency is great.  Eliminating redundant steps lowers costs.  Negotiating with your product suppliers lowers costs.   Maximizing the hours of operation lowers costs.  We can pass these savings on to patients with no loss of clinical quality.  There is a right way and wrong way to lower costs in dentistry.  Just be aware of the methods your doctor may be using to offer low fees.