How to Find a Dentist and Avoid Getting Ripped Off

If you are looking for a dentist, make sure that they are trustworthy, excellent, and makes their patients their top priority. But in this world, in every ten good dentists, you will find at least one unethical dental practitioner who provides their patient's products and services that are unnecessary and in it just for the money. 

For example, at least once in your life, you encounter dentists that will tell you, you needed fillings, but turns out to be unnecessary. There are also dentists that require you to buy dental products like toothpaste and toothbrush that you don't need. These kinds of frauds are regular occurrences in the dental world. 

According to experts it still happens, but there are no precise figures how widespread this dental fraud is. If you compare it to the overall statistics, trustworthy dentists still outnumber fraudulent dental practitioners. The majority of dentists are ethical and honest. But you can't avoid fly-by-night dentists that destroy dentistry's good name.

The main reason why there are still fraudulent dental practitioners in the United States is the lack of oversight in practice, compared to other branches of medicine. For clinics that operate in small places, there is usually no agency that looks into their malpractices. It is very easy to take advantage of people, especially if they know they can get away with it. 

(To know more about dental oversight in the United States, visit 

Another reason is the subjectivity in every dental diagnosis. Two dentists can disagree about whether a tooth decay will require extraction or just a tooth filling. Dentistry, in general, falls into a continuum of dental philosophies, from conservative to aggressive practice in their treatment.
Some fraudulent practitioners abuse this uncertainty to earn more money. Because of this, we ask dental practitioners, including people from the American Dental Association for advice how to find the best, trustworthy, and honest dentists and avoid unnecessary risk.

Avoid dentists that offer or advertise deals

Almost all experts suggest that the best way to find a good dentist is not to believe in advertisements or deals, but to ask recommendations from friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers, in short, ask people close to you for referrals. If you don’t have anyone close to you to ask, the next best thing to do is to ask your local dental society or the nearest hospital.

The one thing you need to avoid is to go to a dental practitioner that you found in the newspaper advertisement, especially dentists that offer free services like tooth cleaning and tooth whitening.

For example, if you are in North Carolina area and you are looking for the best Durham dentist, and you found an advertisement stating that for every tooth filling, the dentist is offering “free” cleaning, chances are, they are using free services to hide the fact that they are doing subpar dental services.

It is one way to attract more clients because they know they can’t compete with other dentists that are doing a better job than them. Most, if not all, competent dental practitioners don’t spend money on advertising their services. Instead, they let their services do the talking. Most corporate-owned dental clinic is also doing this thing.

They promote free dental services, on the other hand, they will also tell their clients that they need a thousand dollars’ worth of dental work. It’s like giving candy to a child using your left hand and taking the candy away using your right hand.

Be wary about new dentists that prescribes a lot of dental treatment

One of the most common patterns of fraudulent dental practitioners is telling new patients they needed a lot of dental work, even if it is unnecessary. Some of it is too rare; patients don’t even hear about it before the clinic visit. For example, you visited a new dentist for a simple dental cleaning, after inspection, the dentist suddenly tells you that you need 15 to 16 tooth fillings and a tooth jacket in your molar tooth.

You have to be wary about this kind of dentist. Chances are, they want to sweet talk you into availing their services even if it is unnecessary at the moment. Of course, you are visiting the dentist for a reason. The advice does not necessarily apply. But in some cases, dentists that do unethical practices will maximize the treatment or service they are giving to the patient.

Related to this practice of fraudulent dental practitioners is the “pressure trap.” Dentists will try to pressure their patients into getting expensive procedures, without proper consultation, telling them it is a medical emergency. They will not tell you the details about that medical need, but they are very specific about how urgent the matter is.

(Click here to know more about the most basic dental procedures that are usually performed in the dental clinic.)

If they recommend specific procedures, ask for further tests like X-ray, and get a second opinion

Most, if not all honest dental practitioners will gladly show and explain to you the result of the X-rays on your teeth, to show evidence that you needed the services or the procedure that they recommend. X-ray results and other lab tests conducted are legal, the patient’s property.

Dentists can charge for them, but the patient has the rights to ask for the result, and the dentist is obliged to interpret for them. Not all dental problems can be seen in the X-ray, but many of them should be apparent. Blemishes or dark spots can be a cavity in your teeth.

In general, the dentist should be willing to show and explain everything you need to know about the procedures they are recommending to their patients. But regardless of the X-ray result, if you are skeptical of their prescribed treatment, you can always ask for a second opinion.