How much is my dentist upselling me on dental implant restorations?
December 12, 2013 9:27 PM   Subscribe

A few months ago my dentist quoted me $6,000 for two front lateral incisor implant restorations as well as new abutments (she claims that the old abutments aren't very good.) So we're talking $6,000 for just the porcelain crowns and new abutments, as I had the surgery to put the posts in years ago. I haven't gotten a second opinion yet. Part of the problem is that I let them do the casts and make me a temporary flipper, thinking the implant restorations would only cost a grand or two, then she hit me with this estimate. I am in this fix due to a botched restoration with an extremely shady dentist about a decade ago. I would like to hear what people have been quoted for similar procedures (the restoration/crown part of the process, in the SF Bay Area) and if anyone can recommend a truly sterling dentist.

The original surgeon who placed my implant posts was a dental professor at the top of his field, but my dysfunctional parents got into an argument with him and switched me to the shady dentist, who told us he charged about $800 for "normal" restorations and more than a grand for "deluxe restorations" made of porcelain. We went with one restoration instead of the two I needed due to my parents' finances. It now turns out that my "deluxe, porcelain crown" is plastic, and when it came loose at the time he refused to fix it, making up excuses like "I don't want to put too much stress on the bone." My current dentist and oral surgeon called bullshit on that one. I haven't been able to track him down unfortunately and hit him with the malpractice suit, or at least the scathing Yelp review, he so richly deserves (lucky me, he also didn't wear gloves. I swear.) The low-quality restoration has caused some bone and gum damage, but the underlying implant is still fairly solid.

The dentist who made the quote also charges me quite a bit for cleanings that she says I need every 3 months - I didn't think too much about it until I read other people complaining about this very practice on AskMeFi. I haven't been back since my last cleaning and now the thought that this dentist might also be upselling me on all these procedures, not to mention the previous bad experiences with a straight-up used car salesman of a dentist, have made me extremely anxious about pursuing the next steps. $6000 for two crowns sounds steep to me, more like the cost of the entire implant process including surgery. I've been getting by with the flipper but that is getting extremely old.
posted by ziggly to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Feel free to get another quote. You can probably just call around and ask other dentists without an appointment. I'm not a dentist, but to get my botched implant abutment and crown redone I was quoted $1600 for one molar. (Same thing where the implant itself is stable.) However I don't know the market your in, or how much front teeth crowns cost. You can also ask this dentist for a "treatment plan" which is a price quote with line by line prices for each part of the procedure. (Oh and not to mention what brand or type of abutments you need - they vary by the type of implant and thus prices can vary.)
posted by Crystalinne at 9:43 PM on December 12, 2013

Shop around. Some dentists are just assholes about taking advantage of people. Get a second and third opinion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 PM on December 12, 2013

For your second opinion, try Cory Stacpoole on Sutter. He's an old-school conservative dentist who's very kind and has never tried to upsell me. When I first moved to the Bay Area I had some bad experiences with upselling dentists who wanted to overcharge me for unnecessary work. Cory's basically the opposite -- he reminds me of the dentists I went to as a kid, who were cost-conscious and patient-focused. I trust him.
posted by Susan PG at 11:24 PM on December 12, 2013

I haven't been able to track him down unfortunately and hit him with the malpractice suit, or at least the scathing Yelp review, he so richly deserves (lucky me, he also didn't wear gloves. I swear.)

Angie's List apparently has a separate premium section for reviews of doctors and dentists. You might consider getting your parents to pay for it.

Get a couple of estimates because its a lot of money, but it also seems like you're not crazy about your current dentist and even if the estimate is dead-on you might find someone you feel tighter with. Plus, you might find a good review from someone on Angie's List. (I use AL for contractors and it's surprisingly great.)

6K doesn't sound totally insane to me, but it does sound high. You should ask for a written quote if you can get one (what materials, etc.) because if someone comes at you with '6k??? That's ridiculous!! I'll do it for 2k!!!' And walk out of there with two incisors made of chewing gum.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:06 AM on December 13, 2013

I sent you a memail
posted by parmanparman at 5:24 AM on December 13, 2013

I recently had two front crowns put in. It was $2k for the crowns. I'm in DC, which is probably comparable cost of living to SF.

My situation was different, as I had broken the teeth and needed root canals which were done by an endodontist and were another $2k. But after that, the teeth were built back up into posts, onto which crowns were affixed. The crowns are entirely porcelain and are way prettier than I thought they'd be. $6k seems high to me for just the crowns. I'd get another quote.
posted by fontophilic at 5:46 AM on December 13, 2013

I'd definitely get another quote. Keep in-mind, though, that the spread of financial services like CareCredit have open the taps for dentists to run their prices up.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:16 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

My family has an extensive history of bad teeth and was lucky to find an extremely competent, honest, and appropriately conservative dentist for a major series of dental procedures. If you are willing to trek to San Leandro, go to Bruce Stephenson.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:36 AM on December 13, 2013

I can recommend Dennis Shinbori, DDS in Japantown. He was my dentist for years and he was amazing!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:24 PM on December 13, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you thank you thank you for the recommendations! I really appreciate them. I've begun calling and the first quote I got was about 25% less, and I will continue to research. Thanks again.
posted by ziggly at 9:19 PM on December 18, 2013

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