A great smile. What does it take to have one? Invisalign? Whitening? Porcelain Veneers? Porcelain Crowns? A Smile Makeover? Very often our office gets a call about the cost of a restorative procedure. The cost of a porcelain veneer, the cost of Invisalign, the cost of a porcelain crown. But, most often, the big picture is being missed completely. A single porcelain veneer may be quoted by us but there are so many factors involved in the decision tree that, more than likely, we will not be talking oranges to oranges. For example, a patient calls and asks what is the cost of a single porcelain veneer. We might quote a cost but then find out that the patient does not need a veneer at all, but some resin bonding. The quote becomes meaningless.
Unfortunately, dentistry does not lend itself to getting a proper price quote. Dentistry is not a commodity, meaning that the dental care you get from one office is not the same as what you will get from another. So, when you are quoted a low fee for a crown, for example, and another office quotes a fee almost twice that of the first office, don’t think that the lower fee quoted by the one office will be the same restoration as the higher fee office. I am not saying that you should automatically assume that a higher fee means better quality either. It is a complex formula to find the right place for your care. But one thing is for sure: There are no true bargains in dentistry. In order for dentistry to be done well, the office must spend hours on continuing education. The materials must be the very best. The staff must be in tune with each other and, most importantly, with the patient (it wouldn’t hurt to have them in tune with the doctor too!).
Recently a friend that moved to Florida called to say she had been quoted a fee for a crown. The fee was really low. I mean REALLY low. I am thinking, “Ok, it’s Florida.” But no, the fee was for a “base metal” crown. What is a base metal? Tin? Base metal crowns are very outdated, not the best for you and may actually have hazards associated with them, such as allergic reactions to these ‘base metals.’ How is the consumer, the patient, to know what it is they are getting?
We have already established that cost is not a good way to find a dentist. Pay an unrealistically low fee now and you will certainly pay later. Poorly done dental work may not become obvious for quite a while. So what questions to ask? How has the dentist stayed current with the latest in dental care? What organizations is the dentist a member? How responsive is the staff and doctor to your questions? What alternatives in treatment are being offered so that you are not ‘locked in’ to one plan? Remember that if you are a hammer, all you see are nails.
Insurance is worthless in the world of modern, cosmetic dentistry. All dental insurance plans have an annual maximum amount that is usually anywhere from $1000 to $1500. This does not cover very much in the world of dentistry. In fact, the little known secret is that dental insurance is only good for covering the occasional cleaning. Getting comprehensive quality dental care may actually mean that the patient will have to finance the care to get multiple teeth treated. Planning is an important part of this and this is another way a dental office can help. Planning a long term solution to a number of dental problems is essential to help the patient get the care that is needed.
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