5 things your dentist isn't telling you - MoneySense

5 things your dentist isn’t telling you

Some dental procedures are necessary to maintain overall health while others are nothing but a veiled up-sell. Know the difference.


1. Some teeth aren’t worth saving. Dentists are trained to save teeth, but it can be cheaper to pull a problem tooth, says Dr. Michael Zuk, dentist and author of How to Save Big Money at the Dentist. You could spend all sorts of time and money, not to mention discomfort, and still end up losing the tooth. Dr. Robert Sutherland, president of the Canadian Dental Association, agrees. The more costly, invasive and risky the procedure, the more you want to ask questions.

2. Careful what you put in your mouth. Tooth veneers—a thin material cemented to the front of a tooth—can give you that Hollywood smile, but they’re a lifelong commitment. Veneers only last about 10 years, and you have to replace them when they get old or damaged. That’s why young people should steer clear of them, says Zuk. Durability is an important consideration for fillings—gold and silver last the longest.

3. Ask for a Canadian lab. Dentists can save money by having your crown or dentures made overseas, but you may want ask your dentist to use a local lab, says Sutherland. They have to meet certain training and cleanliness requirements, plus they can ensure the materials they use pass Canadian standards.

4. We can charge what we want. Most dentists charge according to a fee guide that is updated annually by the Canadian Dental Association. Insurance companies use it to determine how much they’ll reimburse you, but they don’t always use the one from the current year, says Sutherland. It’s not uncommon for your dentist to charge more than what’s covered by your benefits.

5. You can ask for your files. Seeking a second opinion or leaving for a new dentist? Take your files with you. You can request to have your X-rays and history forwarded to another dentist. Some dentists may charge a small administrative fee, but it’ll save you the trouble and cost of getting this work redone.