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Anyone heard of scam-artist pediatric dentists?

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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:14 AM
Original message
Anyone heard of scam-artist pediatric dentists?
A few months ago on DU, there was a discussion about a Nightline program about pediatric
dentists using suspect methods in their practices--including using restraints, aggressive
tactics with the kids and also performing unnecessary or costly procedures.

I didn't think much of this post, but I read it with great curiosity because I have three
young daughters who have visited a local dentist in town that I got a totally bad vibe from.

This female dentist scoffed at me accompanying my own children when they got their teeth
cleaned--or even when one needed a filling. I found that odd. My kids were only 3 and 4.

Also, she said my oldest child had 4 cavities and we had them filled. She put large, silver
caps on their teeth (not fillings) and it was extremely expensive. She also said my second
child had two cavities and she capped those with silver as well. These silver caps were all
on baby teeth, so I wondered why she didn't just fill them. Next appointment, she says
that my second child had another cavity that needed to be taken care of.

I decided to rely on my gut feeling and we switched dentists. The new dentist looked at my
children's teeth and everyone got a clean bill of health---including the child that the
previous dentist said had a cavity!!! I said to the new dentist, "Are you sure there aren't
any problems with her teeth. We were told she might have a cavity." The new dentist said
all was well, and we've had subsequent dental visits with no cavities at all.

I'm wondering if anyone else has heard of pediatric dentists ripping off people or using silver
caps when they could have used fillings?

It's bothered me for a year that the previous dentist put silver caps on all of those baby teeth--and
said we had another cavity--when it turned out that there was no cavity.

I'm wondering how prevalent this is, or if there is possibly some other logical explanation for all
of this.
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. Dealing right now with adult scam

In addition to what is there, the last dentist told me I had a cavity that the new dentist made no mention of. The new dentist is just as bad as the old one, but differently so.
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:27 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Wow, this could be the new scam..
Obviously, most dentist are professional and honest, but it sounds like the rip off artists
are out there! Like you mentioned in your post, they're becoming like rip-off mechanics!

This is so sad! I mean, when a dentist tells you that you have a cavity---you believe them!

I agree with you, that these strip-mall, chain dentists might employ more dentists that are likely
to be suspect.

The pediatric dentist that I had a problem with--was only a year out of dental school and she had
her own practice...
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Jeep789 Donating Member (935 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:29 AM
Response to Original message
3. Happened to me about 15 years ago with my son
He was at school and complained his tooth hurt. The school was about 20 miles away from our home dentist so I made an appointment at a children's dentist near the school. They took x-rays and claimed he needed extensive dental work. I thought it was kind of funny because he had never previously even had a cavity but my own fear of dentists kicked in and I just went along with the diagnosis.

They even had some insurance I could buy that when coupled with my own insurance would pay a good share of the cost. They insisted on doing all the work in one visit because kids that age don't like to make multiple visits. They took him in and sent me to a waiting room (which I found odd too).

I told them I needed to see him for a minute and went in. They had him tied to a board. I freaked out and told them to untie him. They acted annoyed but acquiesced (though claiming they would strap him back up if he didn't behave). I should have left at that moment and still kick myself today for not doing so. He came out hours later in tears. He has never had another cavity since.

My son was put through agony by these ass-bites. It was definitely a scam. A few months after our visit the newspaper did a story on raids of children's dentists in the area that were busted for doing unnecessary work on children and ripping off insurance agencies.
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Poll_Blind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:32 AM
Response to Original message
4. Yes, with the silver caps. I thought it was extremely odd. I wasn't the one to take him in but....
...I remember thinking "Caps? On baby teeth?!". My portion was a couple of hundred bucks. I'd love to know where I can read more about this, if you have any further info!

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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:41 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Hopefully, we'll get some good info in this post...
...which is why I asked this question. Others often chime in with their experiences
and expertise--and we can all benefit from that.

Best of luck to all of us! :)
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Jeep789 Donating Member (935 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:42 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Here are some articles
California Dentists Charged in Fraud Scheme

September 23, 2004
A trip to the dentist probably doesn't rank high on anyone's to-do list. Now, imagine if your dentist skimps on appropriate amounts of anesthesia before submitting you to painful procedures.

That's just one of the things California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is alleging in criminal complaints against 20 dentists throughout the state. He's charging them with defrauding the state Medi-Cal System of $4.5 million, health benefits and workers' compensation fraud, conspiracy, grand theft, child abuse, elder abuse, assault and intentional infliction of great bodily injury.

"These dentists put at risk the health and well-being of hundreds of children and adults by performing slipshod dental services that were unnecessary and ignoring health problems that needed tending," Lockyer said.

The complaint charges Modesto dentist Kyon Maung Teo, who owns Hatch Dental clinics in Ceres, Stockton and Modesto, with being the mastermind of a scam involving dentists from throughout the state. The complaint alleges Teo placed ads on the back of missing-children flyers and in PennySaver and DollarSaver publications offering gifts or rebates to Medi-Cal beneficiaries and "new patients" who sought services at Hatch Dental.


The scams

Worthless treatment. Dishonest dentists perform useless surgery on perfectly healthy patients to hike their own insurance billings. The dentists remove healthy teeth, do root canals that arent needed, and drill for cavities that dont exist. Sometimes childrens teeth are even drilled without painkiller. Often the surgery is botched: Shoddy crowns or fillings fall out. Patients have found surgical debris embedded in their gums. Patients also become painfully infected and disfigured, and need more surgery to correct the treatments.

Inflated billings. Dishonest dentists do minor procedures such as routine tooth cleanings, but bill your insurance plan for costlier treatments such as phantom root canals or cavity fillings.

Phantom treatment. Dentists bill insurers for treatments they never perform. They send the insurer forged bills for fake treatment, medicine and supplies they never used. They may bill the policies of current patients, or invent patients theyve never even met.

Unlicensed dentists and employees. Sometimes dentists illegally treat patients despite losing their licenses for previous infractions. Some dentists also have hygienists, assistants or other staff perform treatments even though they arent licensed or qualified. The dentists then bill insurers as if the dentists performed the treatment themselves. And you could receive shoddy treatment.

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SoCalDemGrrl Donating Member (786 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:33 AM
Response to Original message
5. Had the same problem a few years ago
I took my 17 year old daughter for a check up and the dentist claimed she had 11 cavities and pressured me to have them filled immediately. I called my hubby and we decided to wait and get a 2nd opinion.

The next day we called our old pediatric dentist who referred us to his own private dentist (a USC dental school professor) and after reviewing the X-rays said she had ZERO cavities.

That's right - - - -ZERO!!! They wanted to drill 11 holes in my lovely daughter's permanent teeth just to make a few bucks!!!

We reported this dentist to the California Dental Board but to this day he is still practicing in the same office.

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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:44 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. That is horrible!!
It's horrible that they would have drilled into 11 of her teeth, when she had no cavities!!

Wow. That's mind blowing.

Did you ever confront the first dentist who said she had 11 cavities?

Did your second-opinion doctor have anything to say about the first dentist's "misdiagnosis"?

I can't believe that dentist is still practicing? Wonder how they wiggled out of that one?

It pays to get a second opinion, doesn't it?
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:56 AM
Response to Reply #5
11. Glad you reported the dentist.
There's so many like this, and unfortunately no one would know--unless good people (like you) take the time to file reports. If someone asks the California Dental Board, they would share there's a negative report filed on them.

I've seen it all (sadly). :(
Dentists that only wanted to give toothbrushes and mouthwash to patients w/a specific insurance coverage (which is blatantly cheap--they get toothbrushes and mouthwash by the truckload for free). To dentitsts that demand unlicensed employees to do tasks they are not legally allowed to do (i.e. prophies, cleanings, placing temps, etc.). The public doesn't know any better (in terms of who is allowed to do what)--so many dentists are never reported.

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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:43 AM
Response to Original message
8. Unfortunately there's scammers in every field...
Edited on Sun Jul-05-09 12:49 AM by bliss_eternal
...dentistry is no different. I trained to work in the field, and found too many unscrupulous, unethical dentists out there (total turn off). Also, just didn't like the field/work. But there are also ethical, caring professionals in the field--that care about your oral health, and that of your children.

It's helpful to try to feel out the dentist and office BEFORE allowing them to do any work. Ask questions when talking with the office manager by phone. Once in office, ask more questions of the dentist until YOU are comfortable. Don't allow anyone to do any work until YOU are comfortable.

There's also nothing wrong with waiting to have work done. Just because a dentist SAYS you need work, doesn't mean you do (unfortunately). So sometimes when trying someone new, it's good to get a second opinion (or listen to your gut).

I've found the best way to find a dentist is word of mouth--through friends, family, etc. that you trust. Or if you know of another dental professional that you like/trust--ask them. We found one of our dentists by asking our oral surgeon who he refers to.

Hope this helps!

bliss :)

On edit--p.s. Our dental office allowed me to accompany my adult husband (who was VERY dental phobic at that time)into the exam room, his first visit and any time after that. So I'm a bit blown away that the office wouldn't allow that. :shrug:

Some offices are small and simply don't have the space for anyone besides the patient. But usually a pedodontist office and staff would make allowances and understand that children of a certain age, may need a parent nearby to feel more comfortable.

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Rhiannon12866 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 12:44 AM
Response to Original message
10. Yes. My mother ran across one.
When we were kids, my whole family always went to the same dentist. He was about an hour south of where we were living then, but my parents had seen him since he started his practice, when they lived close by. My mother started taking my brother to see a dentist who was closer, since he seemed to have more dental problems, while she still took me to see the original dentist. Everytime he went there, my brother had cavities and needed fillings.

But one time, when I was leaving for summer camp, she took me to see the local dentist, wanted to get me in in a hurry. I didn't have cavities very often, but this guy told my mother that I had nine! My mother flipped out and took me back to the regular dentist. He told her that I had one...

So she took my brother back to our long-time dentist and he told my mother that the local dentist was probably filling worn spots, which might turn into cavities or they might not... I'm the lucky one. My brother has a whole mouth full of silver. My mother never patronized that dentist again and has told that story to everyone she knows. BTW, he's still in practice, shares a building with my hair guy... x(
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kickysnana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 01:12 AM
Response to Original message
12. Stainless caps are bad, bad bad...
You would have noticed if the kids teeth needed that much work. There have always these dentists around.

It is good idea to get recommendations from friends Condolences to you and your little ones for being a victim of one of them.

It is a very good idea to be in the room with your children and if the dentist protests, find a new dentist. Kids get confused when you abandon them to adults that hurt them and dental procedures hurt. You can't take the pain away but some of the fear.

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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 01:12 AM
Response to Original message
13. There's only one way for a dentist to have to face professional discipline
That's if s/he replaces dental amalgam with ceramic, on the theory that amalgam is toxic.

At that point, all hell is loosed on the dentist.

But let a dentist scam his or her way through a community's children and peel off a million bucks in the process, and -- crickets.

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Wakingupnow Donating Member (21 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-05-09 10:45 AM
Response to Original message
14. Always two sides to any story....
For years I've been reading DU posts, shaking my head both "yes" and "no" but this is my first post, because, as a dentist in practice for 40 years, I simply have to add to this dialogue. After three years in college and four years of dental school, I did a pediatric dentistry graduate program for an additional two years. I took this preventive dentistry thing very seriously and spent time teaching parents how to do their at-home cleaning with their children, believing that when you or your child has a professional cleaning, the film of plaque on the teeth is mostly gone for 24 hours and that's all! Having a cavity filled DOESN'T STOP THE DECAY! It simply repairs the damage caused by the dental infection ("dental caries") that created the hole(s) in the first case. Home care and diet will determine if new decay will occur, and we want our patients to have a drastic reduction in the need for additional fillings if we all work together toward that goal. Most dentists have a tendency to do what they've been taught and continue to do this for their full career. Most people don't look to change that much, and so "silver caps" (actually stainless steel crowns) are taught and also mercury amalgam(so called "silver" fillings) for children--and adults for that matter.And recurrent decay and re-filling becomes necessary to preserve teeth that a couple of generations back would have been pulled.

I'm not defending things that dentists do that focus more on making money than serving the dental health needs of their patients, but I am wanting to shed light on the "whys" that some things happen. The dental insurance game has pushed this tendency for these kinds of things to happen. In 1975 when dental insurance plans came on the scene, people with these plans could receive up to $1000 worth of benefits in a calendar year REGARDLESS OF NEED but only for services that were included in the plan --ONCE APPROVED--and other services were excluded --REGARDLESS OF NEED. When the premium was $10-15/month for a family plan, it was easy to perk up an insurance benefit and people could receive some serious dental services. Today, those premiums have tripled or quadrupled, but the benefit cap for some plans is still $1000. That will "buy" about one third as many services as it would 30 years ago.

Re: being "clients" of a DMO or insurance program. Dentists become employed contrators of the plan and enter into a contractural arrangement with the plan to agree to provide services based on what is called a "usual/customary" fee for certain services. What is supposed to be an "average fee" can be different in the same community between various plans, many of which are with the same insurance carrier! So what's different between dental plans and medical plans? A lot. In our practice we work for our patients--not for a third party company that is in business to make profits. I believe it is better to focus on assessing current dental health factors, informing our patients (or their parents) of those findings and what treatments can be done to raise the level of health--if they choose-- and what investment in time, energy and money it will take to provide those services. Since I am not a "participating provider" patients are ultimately responsible for all fees. We jump through the appropriate hoops to help our patients maximize their benefits. If the plan will reimburse non-participating dentists directly, we can agree, once receiving a "pre-determination of benefits", to have that portion of fees paid directly to our office. Otherwise the patient pays the fee in full, insurance claims are submitted electronically the day of service, and the patient receives their benefit usually within 1-2 weeks.

We even stopped calling these plans "dental insurance" preferring as a more accurate term "pre-paid partial reimbursement." There are pluses and minuses to this approach. With this present economy, many people are dependent on any benefits to do any treatment, and they may have to choose an "in-network" office instead of coming to us. We have financing options available with 3rd party financing programs(for health care only) or credit cards.

It's important to point out that my dental office is like a small hospital with a physical facility, equipment, a staff and supplies. Fees have to support all of these costs of creating and maintaining the facility and provide appropriate compensation for the doctor. Compare this to the hospital in the medical system. When I was 5 years old, I had a tonsillectomy, was in a private room for one night, and all fees, including the doctor's fee ($50), totalled less than $100! (my father gave me my actual hospital bill which was paid IN FULL by the family health plan). What would that cost today?

Excuse my rambling, but there are thousands of dentists who are working from a service-focused direction with the best interests of their patients at the top of the list of priorities. We provide services that not only help people keep their teeth but enjoy attractive looking smiles and do it with comfort. I plan to do another reply that will address some of the other complaints of pediatric dental scamming. We do have an economy where we can choose those who provide our dental services. There are people who drive some distance to come to our practice because of the way we provide dental care. There are other people, just minutes from our office, who are focused entirely on getting the cheapest services and will go somewhere where these abuses occur. Sometimes it takes having an unsatisfactory experience that creates the awareness to look for something better. The best transaction (whether it is for a filling or a cap or an oil change for that matter) is one where the customer/client/patient receives value that exceeds the dollar cost of the product/service and the provider/seller/manufacturer receives appropriate compensation. IMHO that is the goal we could all aspire to achieve.
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Jeep789 Donating Member (935 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-06-09 06:08 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. I think we all realize that there are good dentists out there
and are quite happy when we find them. There are also numerous bad dentists out there that prey on children and adults. Rooting the bad ones out can only help the good ones.
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PCIntern Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-06-09 06:38 AM
Response to Reply #14
17. Gret to see your wonderful post...
looking forward to more commentary from you!!!

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PCIntern Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-06-09 06:20 AM
Response to Original message
16. Stainless steel crowns for primary teeth
are fine.

you may or may not have been scammed and I'm in no position to say. Three or more surface fillings on primary teeth generally don't work well.

I was trained by one of the great pediatric dentists in the world, Dr. Frans Currier, and one thing which is difficult to visualize is caries on primary teeth. That being said, you should show the films to another dentist and ask her or him what gives here.

Good luck.
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