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Is It Time For Me To Break Up With My Dentist?

leave your dentist

Maybe you’re a newer patient, or maybe you’ve been seeing the same dentist your entire life, but you can’t shake the feeling that something doesn’t quite seem right when you go in every six months for your teeth cleaning. If something feels off, it probably is. Should you start looking for another practice? It can be a difficult decision to make, but keep your eyes open to these warning signs.

Dirty Office

Dental practices should keep a very clean facility. While not everything needs to be brand new, you shouldn’t see much dirt, grime, or dust around the facility. After all, this is a medical building! The staff should also be clean, well groomed, and professional in their appearance.

Empty Schedules

Just like an empty restaurant is often a sign of something awry, so is an empty dental office. If the dentist can get you in at any time on any day, you might want to wonder what other people know that you do not. With the exception of a brand new office or practice, good dental offices are reasonably busy.

Large Discounts

Practices that offer large discounts are often inflating the prices of their service. Fees in the practice should be a reflection of what it costs the practice to provide the service. If fees are fair to begin with, there shouldn’t be much room for the dentist to offer a heavy discount.

Willingness To “Cheat” The Insurance Companies

Some patients will ask their dentist to bill the insurance company next year because this year’s insurance has already been used, or to bill the insurance company a larger amount than what was done so that more of the cost would be covered by insurance. If the dentist complies, they are committing insurance fraud.

Willingness To Waive Insurance Copays For Patients

While this may seem like a win for you, it’s actually insurance fraud. Insurance companies have co-pays to encourage patients to have less work done and not to take on treatment they don’t need. Side stepping the contact with the insurance company to win more patients is illegal and definitely a red flag.

Staff Turnover

Staff turnover, especially in dentists and hygienists, is often a sign that they do not want to be affiliated with the practice. Some turnover is normal; life happens! Dental professionals usually have high standards, so if you see quite a few long term professionals in the office, that’s a great sign that you’ve found a high quality place.

Unhappy Staff

While everyone has their off days, the staff should appear to be enjoying their job, taking care of patients, and doing their work. A positive work environment and happy staff lead to everyone working harder and providing the highest quality of dental care to their patients. We don’t know about you, but we want our dentist to love being a dentist!

Nothing Changes

Dentistry is a rapidly evolving health care profession and is vastly different today than it was 10 years ago. If your dental practice is doing everything exactly the same as they were 10 years ago, they are not staying current with their training and patient care.

Emergency Availability

Dentists should be available to their patients, especially patients they are actively treating, should a dental emergency arise. Hospital emergency rooms simply are not experienced or equipped to handle dental emergencies. If you can’t reach your dentist during an off hour for an emergency, that’s a red flag. Responsible dentists will arrange for a colleague to care for his or her patients during an emergency if they are away for personal time. A dentist should never leave their patients hanging or have an answering machine directing you to the emergency room if you have an unexpected problem.

Always Running Behind Schedule

A well run dental office usually runs on time. If timeliness is a major problem every time you have an appointment, it’s likely a reflection on the overall organization of the office and the quality of care you expect to receive.

Fillings Falling Out

Contrary to what some patients believe, it is not normal for fillings to fall out. There is the occasional rare event, but well-done fillings and crowns do not fall out on a regular basis. Well-done dentistry looks good and lasts a long time.

Staff And Their Children Get Their Dental Work Somewhere Else

The staff know and see what is done for patients.  If they don’t want their care delivered in that office, neither do you.

Sound Familiar?

Some of these concerns are more dire than others, but if you’re seeing numerous problems that never seem to change, it’s time to consider switching dentists.
The good news it that switching dentists is easy. All you have to do is find a family dentist you like, make a phone call, and you’re all set.