Patients question overly expensive dental visits

What you need to know before you book your next dental exam

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Local 10 News heard from many viewers in recent weeks about bills related to dental visits.  Some have expressed concerns about larger than expected bills after booking their appointment. So the "Call Christina" team made some inquires and here's some answers to common questions about dental visits.

"A lot of patients are stressed enough to come to the dentist, so when they are finished and leave with a surprised bill, that puts a bad taste in their mouth," said Dr. Joseph Orlando.

The key is to know exactly what the procedure will cost before you book the appointment.

"I think it's incumbent upon dental offices to let a person know exactly what the costs are," said Dr. Bill D'Aiuto, first vice president of the Florida Dental Association.

Don't be afraid to ask.  If you don't get that information up front before the procedure, ask for it and get it in writing. If you have insurance, find out what your plan covers. It's called an estimation of benefits, and you will know what the out-of-pocket expenses will be.

Local 10 News tracked down rates for common dental procedures in South Florida to give patients an idea of what they might pay. Basic cleanings will range between $60 to $200. The cheapest crown was $500 and the most expensive was more than $1,200.  

Fillings for cavities might range in cost from $80 to $300. Prices for procedures will range depending on the material used. For example, the cost can increase by hundreds of dollars if porcelain is needed instead of composite resin.

"There is a great deal of care, skill and judgement put forth by the dental professional in order to recommend a proper material to suit the problem," said Dr. D'Aiuto.

If you are over-treated, the cost of dental care can be high so don't be afraid to negotiate. Dentists should not make it uncomfortable for you to discuss costs, and they should be willing to work out payment plans or alternative treatments if the costs exceed your means.

Here are additional tips to restrain dental costs:

- Request written treatment plans and estimates in advance

- Get a second opinion

- Ask about specials and discounts

- Make sure you understand the benefits and limitations of your dental insurance

Additional Resources:

Estimate your healthcare costs

Dental checklist

Follow Christina Vazquez on Twitter @CallChristinaTV

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10