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Shopping for dental prices.
Old 04-22-2009, 02:55 AM   #1
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Shopping for dental prices.

Years ago I damaged one of my front teeth. A couple of years ago my dentist sent to me to specialist to have root reconstruction done. After the surgery the specialist said that it was unlikely the tooth could be saved.
My dentist said lets not be in hurry to replace it.

Today my dentist said that day is coming sooner rather than later and recommended I get either a bridge or a dental implant sometime this year. I knew these things were expensive but the $4,000 to $7,000 price tag was still sticker shock.

I like the dentist, and went to him after my wonderful former dentist retired, at the recommendation of my girlfriend. He seems like a good guy, but not as good as old dentist. Frankly the most notable thing about the place is the spectacular views from the office (not overly important when someone is peering into your month) and the girls in the office are very nice, and very cute. I really have no way of judging his competence or his prices. He is certainly more expensive than my old dentist. Although comparable perhaps a bit cheaper to the young guy who took over my old dentists practice and whom I didn't like.

Now if we were just talking cleanings twice a year, and a filling or two it wouldn't be worth it to switch dentist. For this type of money, it is worth doing a bit of shopping. Obviously, quality matters in addition to price, but I am lost how to judge either.

Does anybody have any suggestions how to go about this.
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:27 AM   #2
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Clif, my situation is very similar to yours, dentist retired, referred me to expensive one with nice employees, spectacular view, etc. The exception is that I have no doubt he's as good as they get and am willing to pay thru the nose for my dental health.

My best suggestion is to avoid using those referral groups advertised on TV, you know, 1-800-etc. The dentist pays x number of dollars to be a member dentist; as far as I can tell really good dentists do not use those services. Beyond that, I don't know, maybe ask your retired dentist, if you can find him. Like I said, I believe my current dentist is top-of-the-line and sites like Yelp.com confirm that.
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Old 04-22-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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I know we talked about dental implants in a thread about a year ago, you might do a search. There are various types of specialists doing dental implants(oral surgeons, etc) and some do a better job than others. Obviously, this isn't as simple as just going to the dentist and getting a tooth filled.

Other ideas:
1) Because it is not strictly a dental procedure, some health insurance plans will cover part of the work. For example, TRICARE covers part of the surgery costs, but not other costs for these implants. Every little bit helps with a bill this big, so it might be worth checking with whoever provides your health insurance.
Finding a dentist: I'm in the same boat as you are. There's a local dentists that some of our friends use (not LBYM'ers). Beautiful office, lots of girls chattering in the admin areas, high ceilings, etc. I've been there before, they did good work, but I always feel like I'm paying for a lot of this overhead. There are discount dental plans available on the web ( http://www.dentalplans.com ), but none are people that our friends know/recommend, and they tend to be in the neighborhoods also populated by the plasma center and pawn shops.
Angie's List now covers medical professionals, you might find a recommendation there.
If you are a cash customer, let the dentist know this. Sometimes they offer discounts to be free of the paperwork that comes with billing insurance providers.

Good luck!
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Old 04-22-2009, 01:22 PM   #4
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Shop for competence. My experience is that specialists often have high end offices. My highly competent periodontist told me that he was in an expensive building with a view because that is what most patients expect.

The price range you were quoted is ballpark for implants. My wife had 5 implants ~10 years ago and the tab was around $20k. She also needed to have her jawbone fortified with marrow extracted from her hip. This procedure was covered by our medical insurance as it was performed by an orthepedic surgeon.

Is there a local dental school? I would call and ask them for referral or ask for the name of the faculty member who teaches this specialty. Also check the web site for the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) -- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS)
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Old 04-22-2009, 03:12 PM   #5
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First, if you want to "call around" and check other dentists in the area, just get the procedure codes for your particular "job" and then ask what it would cost at other dental offices. I've done this for such things as fillings, crowns and root canals. Often a big difference from dentist to dentist. This all came up when my dental insurance got "radical" on me and forced me into a "network".

Amazingly, when I moved to Hawaii from the midwest, my costs have actually gone down. Turns out old dentist was very high priced as my dental insurance pointed out to me. So, shop around. You may be surprised. Oh, FWIW the girls in my dentists office here are much cuter than they were at the mainland dentist!
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Old 04-22-2009, 03:42 PM   #6
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I find all the comments about the cute girls in the front office to be beside the point. You are shopping for a professional service, who cares what the girls in the front office look like?! Jeez!

Now, the "attributes" and smock neckline of the dental hygienist--THAT's worth shopping around for, and what we really care about!
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Old 04-22-2009, 04:19 PM   #7
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The price of dental work has gone out of sight. Right before my dental insurance was to expire 12-31-08, I had three crowns and a bad tooth surgically removed. My total tab was $450 and insurance picked up the rest. Now I'm without dental insurance except for annual check up, x-rays and cleaning. Better than nothing. I figured that if my teath went really bad in the future, I'd just have them all jerked out and go to dentures. I guy I know without insurance just had this done two months ago. Total tab--$!0K. Can you believe that?
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Dental Destinations: Hungary & Costa Rica
Old 04-22-2009, 04:25 PM   #8
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Dental Destinations: Hungary & Costa Rica

Both Hungary & Costa Rica have developed a reputation for good dental services. I have read that you can get excellent care, from an English speaking dentist. The costs, including travel, are lower than the US.

I don't think it is a good option for implants because this process can take multiple visits over a an extended period of time.
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Old 04-22-2009, 04:54 PM   #9
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Mexico, Almogordos Mexico, near Yuma, AZ. Many patients from Phoenix go there for dentistry.

You take a hotel in Yuma, go down to the border about 20 miles, you get a recommendation first, see the dentist, he will give you an estimate, and a time to do the work.

Things work quicker there, you stay at the hotel, see the local sites, travel to San Diego if you like between office sessions and chances are you will be just as satisfied with the work as with a Yank dentist. I've met many people over there that make the day trip from Phoenix to have it done and they are all happy campers.

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Old 04-22-2009, 05:49 PM   #10
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I understand that a number of Australians go to Thailand for dental work, including implants. Isn't it a hop, skip and a jump for you?
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:02 PM   #11
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Thanks for the suggestions. Yelp was an obvious source of good info, that I had forgotten about. I also found the Oral Surgeons link to very informative.

Should I be considered that my previous Oral surgeon doesn't come up in when I search for surgeons in my area.
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
I understand that a number of Australians go to Thailand for dental work, including implants. Isn't it a hop, skip and a jump for you?
I bit more than hop...

On the other hand, my one experience with dental care in Thailand was wonderful.

I arrived in Thailand with a toothache. We were going to leave in a couple of days to go to Bali where dentist would be in short supply. I asked at the hotel, got a recommendation. We into to see the lady. She quickly identified the problem as gum infection, gave me the same advice about my wisdom teeth as my old dentist. It was a no different than a visit to a dentist in the US, except for the bill. $10 including the price of the antibiotics!. So Thailand is absolutely option.
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:34 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jug View Post
Mexico, Almogordos Mexico, near Yuma, AZ. Many patients from Phoenix go there for dentistry.

You take a hotel in Yuma, go down to the border about 20 miles, you get a recommendation first, see the dentist, he will give you an estimate, and a time to do the work.

Things work quicker there, you stay at the hotel, see the local sites, travel to San Diego if you like between office sessions and chances are you will be just as satisfied with the work as with a Yank dentist. I've met many people over there that make the day trip from Phoenix to have it done and they are all happy campers.

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A few years ago I read an article by journalist who went to Mexico for dental work. His experience was a nightmare. He went to Mexico because he couldn't afford Costa Rican dental prices.
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Old 04-22-2009, 07:36 PM   #14
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Should I be considered that my previous Oral surgeon doesn't come up in when I search for surgeons in my area.
If an oral surgeon can't make a "good list" then perhaps it's awaiting the determination of pending litigation?

We've been very happy with pediatric dentist Dr. Uchida and orthodontist Dr. Shiraki. Both have referred their patients to a number of oral surgeons and would give us referrals-- I'd be happy to give them a call if you want. Both of them immediately gave us a 20% cash discount when they learned that they wouldn't have to deal with insurance bureaucracies, and I bet that oral surgeons feel the same way.

Dr. Uchida went out on his own about eight years ago and supports 18 or 19 of the most gorgeous women I've ever seen outside a beauty pageant. (We have the holiday cards to prove it.) Dr. Shiraki somehow manages to survive with only two or three very nice assistants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
I bit more than hop...
On the other hand, my one experience with dental care in Thailand was wonderful.
Same here. In fact you might want to talk with Billy & Akaisha or even go straight to Bumrungrad-- before the weather gets much warmer!
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