Myths About Fraudulent Dentists

Dental team working with a patient.

There is a lot of negativity surrounding dentistry. A general disdain for dentists is pretty prevalent in society.


For instance, the popular website, BuzzFeed has a gif filled article titled, “21 Things Everyone Who Hates the Dentist Will Understand.”  It goes through a list of dental bashing. Hating people in surgical masks, getting anxious from the smell of latex gloves, and skepticism that you don’t actually need your wisdom teeth out – these are just a few of the topics BuzzFeed covers.


People’s hatred for dentistry isn’t secretive. There’s even a domain called “,” dedicated to blogging about dental fear. Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of the hatred that’s associated with dentists. We’re going to talk about why people hate the dentists, the existence of fraudulent dentistry, and how to tell if your dentist might be taking advantage of you.


Why People Don’t Trust Dentists


According to webMD, about 5-8% of Americans skip going to the dentist out of fear. It’s understandable that you’d be scared of the dentist. For most people, getting medical work done can feel like a vulnerable situation. Sometimes fear of the dentist is caused by mood disorders like anxiety, substance abuse, or PTSD.


Other times, a lot of these fears stem from not trusting your dentist. One user on the popular social site “,” commented that he’d “trust a car mechanic more than a dentist.” (Since car mechanics are notorious for making you pay for unnecessary work.) You can tell how deep rooted society’s hatred for dentists goes by the recommended searches in Google:


"Dentists are doctors. Dentists are evil. Dentists are rip offs. Dentist are not real doctors."


Unless you are clearly feeling pain in your mouth, dentistry can seem like a subjective medicine. A lot of people are scared that dentists are going to scam them by performing unnecessary treatments, like filling micro-cavities, X-rays, or cosmetic money making schemes. There are also those people who don’t think that dentists are doctors at all, maintaining beliefs that cavities can heal themselves and gum disease is a sham.


W.H. Auden puts the work of a dentist perfectly by saying, “A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist; he is either, like the surgeon, a craftsman, or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist.” For a cosmetic dentist, he is very much a craftsman and an artist, which can make people feel uneasy.


The majority of the time, cosmetic dentistry is an art to perfect a patient’s smile. Sometimes cosmetic dentistry isn’t imperative, unless it saves you from further tooth loss and gum disease, which can feel like you’re getting shammed into a money making scheme.


Not to mention, a lot of the time cavities can fly under the radar, making it seem out of the blue when you go in for a check-up, and your dentist finds three cavities. This can also happen when you go to a more conservative dentist, who wants to fill small cavities, versus a dentist who doesn’t fill small cavities.


Going to the dentist isn’t a fun experience for most people. After all, the bright light of a dental chair might feel like a Hollywood interrogation room, as your dentist asks you about the last time you flossed. There are a lot of unpleasant experiences at the dentist, like needles, cavity fillings, small spaces, loud noises, physical pain, and large doctor’s bills. However, we will admit that an abscessed tooth and tooth loss is a lot more unpleasant than a trip to the dentist’s office every 6 months.


Unlike most doctor’s visits, dental visits can feel incredibly aggressive. Gum cleanings and plaque removal can get painful, especially if your dentist or hygienist isn’t gracefully handling your mouth. The invasive nature of dentistry can make you feel disrespected during dental treatments. At the same time, this might be the dentist doing the work, which doesn’t mean that all dentists will make you feel like he’s prodding around in your mouth.


Is Fraudulent Dentistry Common?


Like any other industry, there are always exceptions to the rule. There is a small number of dentists out there, who milk the system and take advantage of other people for money. As we mentioned earlier, the subjective nature of dentistry makes it more susceptible to deception than other medical professions. However, you’re no more susceptible to fraud from a dentist as you are from say an acupuncturist or chiropractor.


Another thing that makes dentistry more vulnerable to fraud is the way that dental insurance works. Dental insurance pays for around $2000 a year; whereas, with regular medical insurance you pay the deductible out of pocket, and insurance pays for the rest. This means that dental insurance is more lucrative for a dentist.


The average dentist is going to be an honest person.  Dentists spend years going to school to become a credentialed medical provider, and even more time building a successful practice. It’s just not rational for dentists to build a dishonest brand for themselves.


Not to mention, the level of education that goes into dentistry requires a certain level of passion. Dentists care about the work they do on your mouth. They want your smile to look good, and they want your mouth to be healthy. After all, your smile is a reflection of the dentist’s hard work and education. A dentist would make much more money by bringing new patients in, than if they were losing recommendations by nickel and diming people and providing unnecessary treatments.


Even though the majority of dentists are legitimate, the insecurity of knowing they could be scamming you might deter you from going to the dentist. But as the proverb goes, “don’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.” There are ways you can find trustworthy providers, who will help you get a healthy life.

How to Tell If Your Dentist is a Scammer

While these aren’t hard and fast rules, there are some ways that can help you figure out if your dental office is a fraud. Here are some signs that your dentist is more concerned with loosening your purse strings than healing your dental health:


  • Pushy with procedures. If your dentist tells you that you need a treatment immediately, without explaining why, then chances are he’s trying to rip you off. If your dentist is overly vague with his explanations about the treatment, and why you need it, then tell him you’re going to wait until you get a second opinion.
  • A lot of work out of nowhere. If you go to the dentist regularly and never had a cavity, and then a new dentist tells you that you have 12 cavities, chances are that he’s trying to make you get unnecessary cavities filled.
  • Huge discounts. If your dentist offers you a deal that sounds too good to be true, then chances are that it isn’t true. When dentists are desperate for patients, because they haven’t built a trustworthy practice, they’re trying to find any reason to get you in a chair to get work you don’t need. To do this, they might offer free cleanings, discounted checkups, or discounted X-Rays.
  • Practices with too much advertisement. Dentists that over advertise with huge discounts should automatically make your ears prick up. Some advertisements and websites are normal, but offices that over advertise are just trying to get you in the office for quick cleanings before telling you that you need cavities filled. With that being said, you should avoid franchise and big-box dental practices. These franchises encourage dentists to upsell for brand profits.
  • Use a dentist who has his name on the door. When a dentist has his name on the door, it means that he personally owns the clinic, and his name is on the line. If he’s not personally invested in the practice, then he won’t be as invested in your dental health.
  • Read all of the reviews. Before going to a dentist, make sure that you do some research on Google. Read as many reviews as possible and see what people are saying about the way he provides dental care. Don’t be afraid to check price points and shop around. Ask friends and coworkers for reputable dentists and make sure that they’re licensed to perform the treatments they recommend. It’s not unheard of for unlicensed dentists to weasel their way into unlawful practices.
  • Go with your gut. If a dentist makes you feel uneasy or pressures you into getting treatments done, then don’t be afraid to walk away. When it comes to making sure your teeth are healthy, it’s imperative that you listen to your instincts. If a dentists’ office seems impersonal, or if she doesn’t have her credentials hanging up in the cleaning room, then you should do a little more research.


If you feel like you’re getting stiffed by a dental provider, another thing to keep in mind is that you have the right to decline any dental treatment. If you feel like it will be awkward to see him after declining his treatment, then go to another dentist. Ultimately, the right dental procedure from a reputable dentist can be a life-changing experience, but it’s important to do your due diligence when looking for qualified dentists.


Like any industry, dentists who are passionate about their work and spend a lot of time continuing their education will genuinely care about your dental health. If you get bad feelings about a dentist, because he recommends a lot of treatments, this doesn’t mean that he’s a fraud.