Did my dental hygenist really say THAT?


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A few days ago, I went to my dentist's office for a regular teeth-cleaning, and what happened was truly unbelievable. My regular hygienist had left to take a job elsewhere, so obviously, I was assigned a replacement.

She seemed pleasant enough, and after introductions and some friendly banter, she looked into my mouth and started checking my teeth and gums. After checking only two or three teeth, she started talking about how I was a logical candidate for a "deep cleaning" procedure, and after checking about 2 or 3 teeth in each quadrant of my mouth, she did indeed suggest that I be scheduled for a "deep cleaning."

But here's what really got me … She recommended that she NOT do a regular teeth-cleaning now, instead waiting until returning later for a "deep cleaning." And further ...

The reason she provided for NOT cleaning my teeth now was that my teeth and gums were probably not bad enough to ensure that insurance would pay for part of the procedure, and if she cleaned the teeth now, the situation wouldn't be bad enough to warrant insurance coverage. In essence, she was saying that we needed to wait and let the condition worsen to make sure that insurance coverage would apply. Now, how ridiculous is that?

It would be like a cardiologist recommending letting the heart get weaker before undergoing certain heart tests, or a urologist recommending waiting until a patient's high PSA reading got even higher before proceeding further.

I'm already in the process of looking for another dentist, even though I've seen my current one for nearly two decades.


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A couple more comments ...

I just made an appointment to have another dentist provide a "second opinion."

And perhaps all dentists do, but I posted several months ago regarding my dentist's policy with regard to insurance, and it would seem that he caters to insurance companies more than he does his patients.

For instance, the procedure discussed in my thread-opening post costs $1,627 (which I'm fully prepared to pay, if the procedure is actually necessary). HOWEVER, as I stated in that earlier post, I feel it's better to not even have dental insurance because it's too costly and the insurance only pays no more than half of the cost of such things, so my wife and I recently canceled our dental insurance.

So is it just "coincidence" that the first time I go to the dentist after canceling insurance, they just "happen" to find something wrong that will cost me a large sum of money? Keep in mind that if I still had insurance, the insurance company would probably only pay about $1,100, and the dentist would accept that payment without objection. But because I don't have insurance, I would be billed the full $1,627 amount, even though I'm willing to pay cash in full -- and in which case, the dentist's office wouldn't have to deal with filling out insurance forms, waiting for payment, etc.


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If you go regularly, I'd ask why your regular hygienist wasn't able to prevent this condition. Was she not doing her job adequately?

Now, if you've not been to a dentist for years, that's a different story. But sounds like you're pretty regular. Did you discuss with the dentist, who would (or should) know your dental history at his establishment better than the new hygienist? I imagine so, but just a thought in case it slipped your mind at the time.


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Dear 9andaWiggle:

First of all, I've been going regularly to the same dentist -- at least 3 times a year for teeth cleaning -- since 2001.

Secondly, the previous hygienist a year ago noticed some minor bleeding of the gums when doing the teeth cleaning, but both her and the dentist simply said to make sure I brushed and flossed regularly. On the next visit (about 8 months ago), both of them said my teeth and gums looked better, and in essence, they said "keep us the good work."

Then, the last time with the former hygienist (several months ago), she said that there was again some minor bleeding, and she did mention something about making sure to maintain good dental regimen to avoid the possibility of needing a "deep cleaning" -- a procedure that my wife DID require a year or so ago. So if anything, I increased the number of brushings, flossing and the use of mouthwash every day, so I expected a good report last week … but the rest of the story is contained in my previous posts.

[By the way, although I'm 78 years old, I still have all but three of my original teeth, with one dental implant (about 3 years ago) and two "bridges" (at least 15 years ago)].