Are Dentists Greedy Scumbags?

This post is a deeply personal one about my profession, which I very much love, but which is often demonized in the press and in the public, and which is often perceived as nothing more than a bunch of greedy scumbags.  It’s not often that we dentists get to present our side, and while I’ve debated long and hard about whether to post this, or if it should be here or on my office blog www.SmilesbyPayet.com, I’ve decided this is the place.  Fair warning – abusive or denigrating comments will be deleted.  My blog, my rules.

In a recent comment on my article A Toothache Can Kill You, the commentor made some kind of harsh accusations (near the bottom, you’ll have to scroll almost to the end):

…but without 400 bucks…they basically said die….the system sucks…u ppl don’t care….make ur thousands a month while we [starve] to try [and] live..teeth or no teeth…smdh

Ouch………“u ppl don’t care” and “make ur thousands a month while we starve…” Pretty harsh words, aren’t they?  Sadly, a lot of people feel the same way; just read the comments on any news story about dentists these days, most of which are about dentists jailed for, or accused of, unnecessary treatment, defrauding Medicaid, or any number of other things.  We dentists are accused of being greedy, uncaring, unethical, will-do-anything-for-money, torture-loving, scum-of-the-earth low-lifes.  Even a Duke professor, in an NPR interview a couple years ago, made similar accusations.  BUT ARE THESE ACCUSATIONS TRUE?  Are we dentists really like that? 

Most Dentist are Honest and Decent People

Seriously…..I’m not kidding.  It’s not like there is some conspiracy among dentists to rip people off, do bad things to them, hurt them, trick them, or any of that stuff.  Are there some dentists like that?  Sure, of course there are!  But they’re the minority, not even close to a majority.  Unfortunately, the ones you hear about in the news are the bad apples that make the rest of us look bad.

And just to interject a little humor, as well as to demonstrate that we dentists have some frustrations with patients, too, I highly recommend this blog by Lolabees: 10 Reasons Your Dentist Probably Hates You, Too.

I’m PROUD to be a Dentist

And I’m serious about that, too!  Not only that, I truly enjoy what I do, and yes, getting comments like the ones on that post actually hurt my feelings.  That person doesn’t know me or the thousands of my colleagues who went into dentistry because we wanted to HELP people.   Do I deny that I make a good living?  Nope, not in the slightest, but quite frankly, I think I deserve it.  Why?  Because I’ve had to work my butt off to a level that most people can’t begin to comprehend. 

You want to know why I love my job?  Here you go:

  • Every single day, I get to help people live better lives.  Not necessarily in a big life-changing way every day, but we keep people healthy and we get them back to health if they need it.
  • I get to watch people grow up.  I’ve been a dentist for 15 years now, and it’s almost impossible to describe how cool it is to see the little kids that first came to me when they were in 1st grade, now in college.  And the young adults who were single, but now are married and having their first, second, or 3rd child.  Or the adults who had high-school kids, now telling me how those kids have graduated college, gotten married, and are having kids.  Dentists get to KNOW people over DECADES of their lives, and it’s so much fun to watch.  We grow up together.
  • Sometimes I DO get to make a life-changing difference for my patients.  It might be something drastic, like helping to save someone’s life by recognizing oral cancer at an early stage, or using our Periolase dental laser to help them save their teeth/smile and not need dentures, or 10 veneers for a Smile Makeover that transforms their smile from ugly to dazzling, giving them new confidence and improved self-esteem (seeing the tears of joy when they hold up the mirror is unbelievably awesome).
  • Yeah, I get to play with really awesome technology, like digital photography, CAD/CAM, microscopes, and lasers.  Compared to what was possible when I graduated UNC Chapel Hill School of Dentistry in 1998, we live in a Golden Age of dental technology that makes dental work easier, faster, more comfortable, less scary.  And I get to use that stuff every day – it’s COOL!
  • I’m my own boss!  I control my own business, good and bad, and I answer to no one (except my wife, of course) :-).

Why is Dental Work So Expensive?

I discussed a few reasons for why dental work is expensive in my response to that comment, and then was accused of being harsh in response.  And you know, maybe I was – but I was reacting from my gut and emotions, because honestly, those comments hurt my feelings.  I took them personally, because I know they’re not true.

So why IS dentistry so expensive?  Quite a few reasons, actually, most of which the public has no idea about, so here are a few statistics:

  • Dental school today typically costs between $250-400,000.  Can you imagine?  Most people never even buy a home that costs $400,000, but that’s how much DEBT most new dentists have today, before they even start working.  They have to finance that debt like a mortgage, over THIRTY YEARS!  How would YOU like to be paying for your schooling 30 years after you finished?
  • Building a dental office can cost $200-750,000. It can be done a bit cheaper, but not by much.  And the cheaper you go to build it, more often you have more maintenance problems, etc.  And BTW – this doesn’t even count if you actually buy or build the building.
  • Dentists Actually Get Paid Last.  Let’s say your dentist charges you $800 for a crown.  I sure hope you don’t think the dentist actually gets all that money – not even close!  What comes first?
    • Rent
    • Employee payroll
    • Supplies and materials needed to take care of you
    • Lab bills for crowns, bridges, partials, etc.
    • Taxes (unemployment, Social Security, etc etc etc)
    • Utilities
    • Equipment loans, etc.
    • Last of all……the dentist.  If we don’t make enough money to pay all the other stuff, just like any other business, we go out of business.

You know a comment that I always think is so funny?  It’s this one:

“Hey Doc, can you give me a discount?  I’m on a fixed income.”

HA!  Do you have any idea how much I sometimes wish for a “fixed income?”  Why?  Because my income can be different every month, depending on how busy we are.  Great month = great paycheck.  Lousy month = lousy paycheck.   And it can change from one month to the next.

Is Your Dentist Up-To-Date or Behind-the-Times?

In this photo, I'm using about $80,000 worth of technology. You want cheap dentistry? Then you can't have a dentist with modern technology.

In this photo, I’m using about $80,000 worth of technology. You want cheap dentistry? Then you can’t have a dentist with modern technology.

Here again, most people have no idea how much it costs a dentist to stay current on both techniques and technology.  Technology in dentistry has exploded in recent years, with awesome benefits to patients – more convenient, faster, more comfortable, fewer visits, etc.  However, it’s a lot of work to stay up-to-date; here are some ballpark numbers for you to chew on:

  • A single digital x-ray sensor can cost $5-12,000.  Did you know you’re holding $5,000 in your mouth when we take your x-rays?  Bet you didn’t?  And they only last a couple years, too.
  • Same-day crown systems, like our CEREC, cost $90-140,000
  • dental microscope costs $18-30,000
  • Dental lasers cost between $2,500 (minimal abilities) – $90,000 (can do a lot)

Oh yeah, and that’s just the cost of the technology itself; it doesn’t include all the advanced training, plane tickets, hotels, meals, etc. that you have to keep up with every year.  Most quality Continuing Education classes tend to run $1500-5,000 for 3 days, plus all the travel costs.  REALLY advanced classes may cost $15,000!!!!  And we don’t have some corporation paying that for us – it comes directly out of our pay.  I wonder how many of the people making harsh comments like the one above have to pay $10-30,000 of their own money every year to stay current on their job.  But somehow they think it’s OK to judge us as low-life scum?  Yeah…..that hurts.

Dentistry is a GREAT Career that Requires a Lot of Hard Work

With all the negativity about my profession, and the huge costs associated with becoming a dentist, then staying current with the dramatic changes, one might think that dentistry is a lousy job choice.  However, I beg to differ.

For all the reasons that I listed above, I truly love my profession and am proud to be a dentist.  It’s exciting to be involved in cutting-edge technologies; it’s exciting to transform someone’s life for the better; it’s great to know people over multiple decades and get to know them; and so much more.  Plus, while it is challenging to run a small business, I love being self-employed.  There is a real freedom to having control of your own destiny, rather than working like a drudge in a cubicle for some company that never rewards you as you should be for what you do.  And yes – if you work hard and take great care of people, you will make a very good living – far better than average.

Are Dentists Really All Rich?

money-signOh my – not even close!  Many dentists actually struggle to make any more money than the average Joe Plumber, and I’m not kidding.  For the first 10 years that I owned my own practice, I never made over $68,000.  Admittedly, that was because I was absolutely lousy at budgeting, employee management, accounting, and a whole host of other reasons.  And there are a lot more dentists like that, trust me!  The debt load can be crushing (you just imagine paying $3,000 every month in student loans for 20 years, why don’t you?), and we don’t learn business, leadership, management, or accounting in dental school – we have to learn that all on our own afterwards.

No, I’m not going to tell you how much I make now, as that’s personal and none of your business.  We do make a very good living, and I’ll leave it at that.  But I do it by helping people, not taking advantage of them, and I never will.  I have a conscience, ethics, and morals , and I want to sleep well at night, knowing that every day, I did my best to make people better in big and small ways.  And for that, I’ve earned every penny honestly.

Plain and simple – the huge majority of dentists are good, honest, hard-working people who do what they do, because they love to help people.  I want my daughters to know that I’m proud to be one!  They can stand proud and tall, too, because they can trust that I will always do my best to be ethical, honest, and moral, and that every day, their Dad goes to work with the goal of making, and keeping people healthy.

  • As practicing dentist for 25 years, great article!!!

    • Charles Payet

      Thank you, Norman! I just passed 15 years in this great profession and love it more all the time. Hopefully I’ll still have the same passion in another 10-20 years. 🙂

  • Fantastic article which I am glad you decided to post 🙂 It is true that patients think we are rolling in money and every penny they pay goes in our back pocket. What many patients forget is that the laboratory and technician also get paid for creating the Crown or other prosthetics. We have a fantastic job that we studied very hard for and I also think it is one of the few jobs that gives real job satisfaction. It seriously does change lives by giving most patients a huge confidence boost. Thanks for posting! If it can reach even a few patients and has a small indent into the mindset of how our profession is viewed it was well worth your effort!

  • Sean

    Well Said!!

  • Steffany Mohan

    Thanks, Chip! I’m 17 years in and I love it, but I never dreamed I would work so hard to build and maintain a business and keep current with continuing Ed. I loved this article so much and it’s exactly how I feel! Thanks for posting!

  • InTruDeR

    If you’re not in the U.S., then some of the things listed in the article are bull*. Dentistry is so expensive, because the state makes it so expensive. Good oral medicine can be practiced at a high level with fewer money.

    • Amen, Brother!

    • Charles Payet

      Thank you for your comment; can you you provide some examples of how other countries “make” dentistry expensive? I’m not sure I understand what you mean, as in, do they do it intentionally for some reason, or is there some underlying cause beyond the state’s control, just as it’s often beyond our control in capitalistic USA?

      • InTruDeR

        No, I can’t provide you with such other examples. I can only draw a comparison plane between your world and mine. If you don’t believe what I wrote below, let’s compare prices (us or the dental technician’s).
        No one forces you to have a radiology device in the praxis, or a laser/microscope/CEREC system/etc. I don’t know what are the demands (from the Health Departments/other authorities in this sense) one must meet in the U.S. to open a dental office, but other countries out there don’t ask you this. There are radiology centers where people can provide dentists with the rx. Analogy for the CEREC system-dental technicians duality.
        Second… the dental school. Well… I paid for it… $20 (the admission exam tax). I gotta be honest though… foreign students were indeed paying 4000 bucks/year + rent + food + all the rest of the moving away stuff. But nowhere near your $250 000 sum. (ok so maybe the books were a bit expensive, but having so many PDF files on the internet, really made things easy…)
        Then -> Building the dental office ? Seriously… what type of materials do you need ? Platinum !? I rented myself 50 square meters of space for 150 euros and redecorated with about… ummmm… 1000 euros. Tops ! Then I got the chair, autoclave, water distiller, pouch sealer, etc. (including dental instruments and materials) for say… around 6000 euros. The papers, Health department registration, finances, everything…. say another 500. We draw a line and calculate about 8000 euros. Round that up to $10000. Again, nowhere near $200000 (the minimum you said).
        True enough we get paid last, but I for one say the financial profit’s ok ! Sure I hate it when they complain we dentists are expensive… Why ? Because booze isn’t. Like… EVER ! If you understand what I’m subtily saying. I don’t know why the state does this. It may be in tight correlation with the minimum salary or something like that.
        The rest you said is fine, I guess.

        • Charles Payet

          Wow – looks like there are some major differences between where you’re located and here in the USA. May I ask what part of the Eurozone you’re in?
          $150-200,000 really is about the minimum debt that most dental students here have on graduation; some of the private schools leave them mired with up to $400,000 in debt.

          Building a dental office here is clearly a lot more. My office space is 2,000 sq. ft., or about 185 sq. meters, and cost just under $200,000 to build back in 2010. That did include some new equipment, but I also brought some old equipment from my first office, plus all the instruments, etc.

          BTW – don’t get me wrong – I think profit is great, too. I’m not embarrassed to make a very good living – that was the point of going to school for so long and working so hard. But we do a fair amount of discounted and even free dentistry, too, although we don’t advertise it. We just do it when we see the right person in need.

          I just get tired of seeing our noble profession demonized in the press so much, and wanted to point out a few things that most of the public doesn’t know.

          • InTruDeR

            Yes… Well ! To start off my comment, I’m working for the time being in Romania, Eastern Europe. The formation and business opening are only expensive in the eyes of local population. Perhaps the answer to the question “why ?” is the economic situation of each country. I must say… I had A LOT of foreign students as promotion colleagues, the fairest explaination being the high cost of studies.

            However, you being american and all (it’s a kind of a mentality thing) wouldn’t like using “Made in China” products, most likely. That raises the total price of aquiring the dental office by maybe 50% (?). Sure, they’re not great, but they do their job. Thing is, one can do a root canal treatment with both the Mani H-Files and the Dentsply Sensaeus series or ProTapers.
            The outcome can be the same. Sorry, but this job’s really about knowledge and good hands, rather than equipment.
            I don’t think I need to mention, I’m just drooling when I think of working with one of Sirona’s 20-30000 euros dental chairs… or doing crowns in single visits with CEREC 3D. However !!! All’s well until we end up at Jaipur dentistry level… (if you don’t get it, you can search YouTube for it)

            Discounts ? Sure. For each 31 extracted teeth, I will do the 32nd for free (if it happenes to be a mono-root) :-))))
            Now. For serious… We all can do a discount here and there (or even a free small part of the bigger treatment plan), every now and then. I always make the “leasing” suggestion. You said it yourself, we deserve a better living because school was tough and clubs/beach parties weren’t really an option for us, all those 6 life-draining years.
            When they say to me “ummm that’s a bit expensive, can we fix only the front teeth ?”, my blood pressure jumps to the moon and back and I ask them if beer and ciggarettes and fancy nails and hair stylists aren’t expensive. They either look down and think with shame or get pissed off and tell me they’re taking their business elsewhere. Just love it when I truth-stab them. It’s really OK… Cause in 20 years, I’m gonna be left with patients who do their regular 6 month check-up and give a damn about their mouth. Them giving a damn, motivates me to give a damn. So it’s a win-win situation for all of us.

            Idk what to say about press. Here things are good on that issue. They appreciate us dentists. It’s the “gen pop” that’s criticizing us. In the end I think it all breaks down to the economy. They wouldn’t see us as blood sucking leeches if the state would offer something more. One could make a small loan for say… a kombi-prosthesis or 2 implants, anything that would increase their quality of life. But they don’t. Heck… As of 2013 they stopped covering the whole dentistry part from health insurance. Now we’ve got really long horns !

            Long story, bro’. Can’t wait for your reply ! Later.

  • So glad you wrote this article. It is a sincere and accurate depiction of our profession. I’ve been sharing it with my social media networks, hoping it will help debunk the negative stereotype we dentists have endured for too long.

    • Charles Payet

      Howard, I very much appreciate your sharing it. It is something that really doesn’t get out there much – the “rest of the story.” I don’t expect that many people will agree with it except our colleagues, but if it gets a few people thinking differently, then it will have done some good, and that’s all I can ask.

  • Chip, great article. Just being a dentist is difficult enough, but to run a business and be a dentist at the same time is unbelievable. Most people just don’t understand the kind of risk you guys take. Mark Frias, RDH

  • Taxes and fees eat up half the money if you include your personal taxes Add in insurance and it is well over 50%. A dollar comes in and you pay your employees. from that total they take out social security and taxes. that adds up to over a third the money you gave them. Then you have to match the amount of all your employees paid in social security. For yourself you pay double of what your employees pay for social security and medicaid. Real estate taxes are huge for commercial buildings. Affordable care act tax on equipment cost me another 2 grand plus this year. In MN 2 cents of that dollar comes off the top. we pay sales tax on supplies. there are license fees, and fees for having x ray machines. So more than half is gone. Now you get to pay your expenses described above. Employee benefits, retirement plans for them too! Finally you get to pay yourself about 20 to 25 cents. From that money you pay taxes to fed state and local govt. Then add sales tax for all the things you buy and your personal real estate taxes, auto license fees, You have about a dime of that dollar left to feed, clothe and house your family, pay of school loans and fund your retirement.

    Chip, in other countries the tax and fee burdons are not there. Mandates like Hippa and Osha and the costs associated with them are not there. Malpractice payouts add to the cost in our country. How much of the dollar actually goes to healthcare?

    • Larry shaw

      These costs are the same for any other non dental business, …. Difference, not every business charges hundreds, excuse me, thousands of $$$ for procedures. We are not all the “elete” that dentists have seemingly randomly become….. I did not say “scumbags”! Grrrrr!

      • No Larry, the costs are NOT the same as for any other non-dental business. On average, it only costs $15-30 per sq. ft. to build out a normal office space in Charlotte; for a dental office, it’s $95-150 per sq. ft. For a 2,000 sq. ft. space, that means it costs $100-200,000 more just to build the space.
        Non-dental businesses don’t have to pay $5,000 for a small x-ray sensor that has to be replaced every 2-4 years.
        Non-dental businesses don’t have owners accumulate $300,000 in school debt before ever starting.
        Non-dental businesses don’t have to pay $4-20,000 for just 1 patient chair.
        Non-dental businesses don’t have to get inspections and approvals from federal and state regulatory agencies for x-ray units, solid waste disposal setups, employee safety plans, etc etc etc

        Sorry – that’s a really lousy comparison.

        How much we charge depends on so many factors that you completely don’t understand.

  • Perfect article!!! Coming up on my 20 year Anniversary in dentistry and loving it !!!

  • Chip, wonderful straight-up honesty. It would be great to have some non dentists share what they might have thought about dentists and how this article might have changed their thinking.

    I’m older than you and remember when those with the title, “Doctor,” were “respected” for simply having earned their title. It was a time when everyone expected doctors to be financially successful, in fact, nobody wanted to be seen by a doctor that was a financial failure. Today, with the anonymity of the internet and other societal changes, respect seems too often in shorter supply.

    There are bad apples in every walk of life, even at the highest levels of success. We read about them daily. Some of our harshest critics might themselves be suspect. But, who amongst us all places limits on their own success, while placing limits on others? Pretty short list.

    Chip, I hope your comments are well read and received in the heartfelt manner you intended. Sometimes, we all become a little too cynical, a little too jaded by the constant barrage of bad apples the media presents. We need to return to a place where everyone deserves respect, at least until proven otherwise. Chip, you have mine!

  • Robert Trimble DMD

    I really resonated to the idea of seeing patients over and again for years and generations. I practiced for 180, no, forty years. I kept up with all the technology at first, but realized that not everybody could afford it. I now do more basic dentistry. People who make $20,000 a year can’t afford a $800 crown with an RCT. There are ways to help them without charging them $20,000 for the case. Sometimes, not making something cheaper to them is self serving. As in, “I only do the latest technology.” If you don’t come up with an alternative, you have not helped them at all.

    • Charles Payet

      Robert, I appreciate your perspective, and you’re right. Just so you know, I RARELY do $20,000 cases. Like 1 every couple years. We used to do a lot of big cosmetic cases before the depression, but since then, we’re a very “bread’n’butter” practice. We’re not the cheapest, but definitely not the most expensive either. I’m proud of the quality and the options that we offer; no matter what I do, cheap or expensive, I do my absolute best on every one.
      At the same time, there are real advantages to technology for patients, and unfortunately, those technologies ain’t cheap.

  • JERRY GETZ

    Well. Whatever the reason, it’s just too expensive for ANY person of average means to afford.

    • Charles Payet

      May I ask why you say that, Jerry? Without intending any offense, is that your personal experience, or of people you know?

      The reason I ask is simply this: my patient base is almost entirely made up of patients who are, I think, “of average means,” as you say. I’m not a “dentist to the stars,” or anyone famous. Only one of my patients in 15 years has gone on to fame and fortune, but most are your every-day, solid, respectable, hard-working people. We have patients from the poorest sections of town, and the richest, and everywhere between.

      In my personal experience, a lot has to do with how you value your teeth vs other things (not meaning you personally, but “you” as a general group). People who value keeping their teeth find a way, and people who don’t — don’t. It’s a lot about priorities.

      Regardless, I thank you for commenting and being part of the discussion.

  • For any person of average means who does not brush twice a day with an electric toothbrush and floss once a day, do not smoke, and have annual checkups bare minimum, I will say dental care may well be too expensive. Sometimes saving up for extractions and dentures is what is called for. That is what my parents did and dentures served them well. They both lived well into their sixties, half their lives without teeth.

  • Dr Patrick Wang

    Great article Sir..Greetings from India..Dr Patrick Wang

  • Naema mohammed

    Beautiful article ,,,,,
    I really find it funny when a lady buy a luxury bag costs 1500$ ,while she consider a crown with the same cost expensive ,although the crown will last longer & make her oral health better!!
    I think it’s a matter of priorities !

    Naema mohammed
    GP dentist
    Abudhabi
    UAE

    • Jason Zimmer

      Your from one of the richest places on earth. Anyone who pays $1500 for a purse is beyond retarded. Just because some people are dumb enough to pay a lot for nothing out of vanity and stupidity does not make if fair for you to charge extreme prices for your help. Furthermore, Very few people in the real world can blow $1500 on almost anything even if it’s something they might need. If you have never been lower class or even middle class in some cases you really do not know what really doing without is. Just because you mainly deal with the wealthy because only they can afford it does not mean that the vast majority of people are not far from it.

      • Jason, unfortunately you’re mixing up a bunch of different things in your response that are really unrelated. Also, it’s your opinion about what things are worth; not everyone agrees.

        However, what someone pays for luxury goods has nothing to do with what we charge. Much of what we charge is determined by our costs. Clearly, you ignored about everything that I wrote on that particular subject.

        As for the wealthy? Oh hell no….I treat everyone from poor to middle-class to wealthy. I provide TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars in free dental work every single year. Please don’t make absurd assumptions when you know nothing about the people whom I treat as patients.

        Also, what makes you think I have no idea how hard financial difficulty can be? For the first 10 years of my practice, I hovered on the brink of bankruptcy the entire time. You have no idea what it’s like having to carry $500,000 in debt and barely take home enough to cover all my living expenses. I grew up in the middle-class. Graduated dental school with $90,000 in school debt – it will finally be paid off in 2016 – EIGHTEEN YEARS after I graduated. Screw you and your assumptions. You’re exactly the person who needed to read this article, and you still don’t get it.

  • If dentistry is such a lucrative profession, then why don’t they do it?

    If it’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel with a bazooka, everyone should be doing it. No?

  • Catherine Edwards

    A very inspiring and well written article! As a new grad this year I am looking forward to many enjoyable years practicing.

    • Catherine, if you ever need help or advice, please don’t hesitate to ask, or come find me on DentalTown. Dentistry is an awesome profession that allows us to BOTH serve people in need AND make a very good living. It takes hard work and dedication, and I promise you know a lot less than you think you do. 🙂 LOL The longer I practice, the less I feel I know, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be – you’ll always be learning just how much more is out there.

  • Hosaki

    Instead of bitching about a profession which takes years to practice and is expensive to maintain and keep up to date.. maybe complain about some quack “doctor” trying to sell you distilled water with miracle cures for hundreds of dollars or some unproven health supplement from some weird exotic plant.

    • Ain’t that the truth, Hosaki!?!?!? I mean, how much do those “quack docs” sell that water for? Especially the water that “remembers” stuff, whatever that’s called. Stupidity sells, unfortunately. I just wish they’d buy this bridge in Brooklyn that I have for cheap instead, they’d get a MUCH better deal on it.

  • Jason Zimmer

    You are insane! You wish you was on a fixed income? you should be, then you would know what it is really like. I am disabled i get the maximum amount which is $733 a month. You try paying rent and car insurance and power and water and trash and for gas for the car and a bunch of doctors co pays,medicine co pays and all the other stuff just to exist. When that’s your total income even five bucks here or there hurts. i never get to go out to eat or see a movie or anything like that. I simply survive from one month to the next. Sadly there are many people who have to struggle like me. Furthermore, i would nearly sell my soul for 68 grand a year and so would a lot of other people. You have very clearly made a strong case that most dentist are greedy scumbags that have no idea how the poor suffer and most likely will never care because you are deluded into thinking the poor who live on about half what it would take to even live at poverty level is better than starting off at 70 grand a year!

    • And you know what, Jason? I happen to be a liberal Democrat who has no problem paying taxes in order to subsidize programs that help cover people in your situation. Honestly, I think our country treats people in your situation horribly and almost inhumanely. You are absolutely correct – $733/month is ridiculously low. I agree with you. Our system needs to change, and yes, I do what I can to make that happen. But that still doesn’t make all of your assumptions right either.

      • Will Spra

        Well I like you and agree with you about most dentists not being greedy. I see dentists as being extremely hardworking. As far as being a liberal democrat,well shame on you for being a smart person thinking government is good at fixing or solving anything at all. Sure lots of lazy less fortunate will criticize you for being selfish and rich, but as you know they are dumb and WRONG.
        Yes I am poor, not real poor, but I did not make wise choices like you did about career when young, I did military, and yes I regret that. I am rich in happiness though as I raise 3 wonderful children, so they can do better than I. Thank you for your service, as a dentist just this week made my life better. That is much better service than killing poor people of other nations or dropping bombs on them. I am neither Republican nor Democratic, I am Libertarian. Peace.

      • Nom Nom

        You type all this while you have a browser open to surf tropical island destinations and indoor swimming pool costs amirite? While the average joe tries to survive month to month.

        • Hey Nom Nom, if you think it’s so easy, why don’t you do it yourself? Then you can have those browser windows open for tropical island destinations, too. It’ll only take an undergrad science degree, 4 years of dental school and $400,000 in debt to become a dentist, then another $500,000 in debt to open a practice, then you can learn to do HR work, marketing, accounting, leadership and management, patient education and communication, etc. all by yourself in order to actually make it profitable, pay off the banks, and eventually make a good living.

          Piece of cake, right? I mean, it only took me 18 years after graduating to make good. I’m finally paying my last student loan off this year, 18 years after finishing dental school. I finally paid off the construction loan for my current location this year, 6 years after building it, only to take another $120,000 loan for new equipment, new computers, additional space so I can provide better care for my patients.

          Do I deserve some rewards? Hell yes I do – isn’t that what capitalism is about? Study your ass off for 20 years, then work your ass off for 10-20 years, and finally you get to enjoy the good life. I make no apologies for driving a luxury car or taking luxury vacations; I guarantee that you’d do the same if you were in my shoes, and don’t pretend you wouldn’t, because you and I both know that you’d be lying.

  • Nowadays most dentists refuse to do normal cleanings and instead insist on “deep cleaning” scams. What’s your take on this? Do you offer the option of a normal cleaning?

    • Greg, I’m curious how you came up with “most dentists?” While I know of a few dentists who “push” people into deep cleanings more than they should, they are an incredible minority. In fact, several studies show that not enough dentists are properly diagnosing periodontal disease and that a huge percentage of the population is getting “normal” cleanings when they shouldn’t.

      We use a data tracking program for our practice that allows us to see the percentage of regular vs. deep cleanings on a monthly basis, and in our practice, the deep cleanings only average about 10-15% of the patients, so yes, we absolutely offer routine cleanings.

      Just curious how you came up with “most” though, as every study I’ve ever seen shows that dentists are UNDERdiagnosing gum disease, not over diagnosing it.

      • I based that on both personal experience and anecdotal information gathered from others whom I’ve asked to recommend a dentist to me. Maybe this is just a Florida problem. I did have a good dentist in NJ but she has since vanished 🙁

        • Well, if multiple dentists have recommended a deep cleaning, or periodontal therapy, to you…….one good possibility is that you actually have gum disease. And if that’s the case, then doing a “regular” cleaning is actually medically unethical because it doesn’t treat the disease. Also, there’s no actual cure for gum disease because of how difficult the bacteria are to kill, so if you don’t really stay on top of it, it will absolutely come back and be worse than before. Just something to consider; obviously it’s impossible for me to diagnose you over the internet, so I won’t even try. But rather than assuming it’s a “scam,” maybe you really have a problem, and maybe those others do, too.

          • Actually, it was only one dentist who told me such. Friends and associates of mine were the ones who cited multiple dentists saying the same to them. Like I said, maybe this is just a Florida problem. What I do know for certain is that my insurance company sure doesn’t approve of that procedure 😉

  • Karen Rosamond

    I appreciate your explanation of the practice of dentistry. I recently visited a dentist and the hygienist recommended using a Waterpik. This device alleviated multiple dental issues I’ve had after the very first use. No more bleeding gums, inter alia. I’m disappointed that in all my years of visiting dentists, not one (and I’ve seen dentists in California, Louisiana, and Ohio) has ever recommended a Waterpik. I could have saved lots of money and dental issues/pain, not to mention a few teeth, if a dentist had bothered to recommend this additional step to clean my mouth to remove particles bacteria attach to in order to form cavities that often lead to other dental problems. Since the Waterpik has been around since 1962, I can’t imagine why it was never mentioned to me. Flossing, brushing and mouthwash, etc. do a good job, but I doubt any device does as good a job in rinsing away debris between teeth. My oral hygiene routine now consists of flossing, the Waterpik, brushing and an antibacterial or flouride mouthwash. I don’t want to think that dentists have not suggested it to me as it might negatively impact their earnings, but I can think of no other reason. The failure to do so has caused me to view dentists in a more negative light than I had before.

    • TRUE111

      I completely agree, Karen. My wife and I just started using the Waterpik in the last 6 months… makes a huge difference. It removes debris that brushing and flossing can’t/don’t, even on the lower pressure settings (we use it on 2). Would have been nice to know about this 30 years ago. Heck, even 5 years ago. No doubt I wouldn’t be dealing with issue I’m dealing with now. I too see no reason not to recommend this inexpensive, extremely effective device.

  • Nom Nom

    Why do you guys always push for root canals (700$ + crown 1500$) which would take up my entire insurance for a year instead of maybe doing a couple of fillings???? Even if fillings only last 10 years that’s leaving me room to take care of bigger problems. I think all dentists are scum.

    • Let me put the question right back on you, Nom Nom: why do patients always wait until cavities are bad and need root canals and crowns because teeth are infected and badly broken instead of getting regular check-ups and fixing problems when they’re small. I think all patients like that are stupid.

      There……..see how easy it is for me to flip the situation? I mean….I’m not the one making people wait until a tooth breaks half off or the cavity gets into the nerve and causes an abscess, am I? No…..I’m just the guy who fixes the problems caused by people who wait too long. It’s not my fault when a tooth is so decayed that the only way to save it is a root canal and crown. It’s not my fault that the only way to predictably keep a tooth from breaking apart after a root canal is to do a crown in most cases – it’s simple physics. Force, vectors, material strength, adhesive strength, patient behaviors…….all this stuff that you apparently understand without knowing a thing about dentistry. Maybe, just maybe, if you genuinely asked why we recommend those things with an open mind, instead of assuming you know the answers, you could learn something. But no…..you assume that we’re all scum in advance and don’t want to actually listen to experts, do you? Nope, obviously not.

      • Nom Nom

        Actually no, it’s not simple physics, I was told by 3 different dentists I needed a root canal, finally found a dentist willing to do a filling, that tooth is still fine 10 YEARS LATER, with just a filling. Why push root canal when a filling would do the job just fine in most cases. Do you understand why I have trouble trusting you guys now? To answer your question why people wait that long, well not everyone has dentist salaries… believe it or not most people aren’t idiots and know what they need to do, they just can’t afford it.