I haven’t been to the dentist for about three years because of unemployment. I’m still unemployed, but just felt like it’d been too much time and I needed to at least get a cleaning. I specifically looked for an affordable dentist. Yet, when I went there I felt like they nickled and dimed me for everything. Not only did they do the more expensive “deep cleaning” but they charged me for a fluoride treatment, and dental sealants. They’ve also asked me to come back in two weeks. How can I possibly do that after being out so much money today? Is this what I can expect from “affordable” dentists?

Luisa M.

Dear Luisa,

First, it’s impressive that you’re making such an effort to get dental care when you’ve been struggling with unemployment for so long. It shows you care about your oral hygiene. The deep cleaning can be typical, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while. The fluoride treatment is useful, but optional. It helps kill bacteria. However, they should have asked.

One thing that puzzles me is the dental sealants. Those are usually placed on children. And, it is something they should definitely have asked about before placing them. In fact, generally an office goes through any procedure to make sure you understand the charges and agree to them before you start. I’d contest the sealants and fluoride because they didn’t ask.

In future, I’d suggest you still look for affordable dentists, but ahead of time discuss what their payment policy is. Also, be clear with them that you want to approve any extras along with their costs before hand. Be aware that many dentists will let you pay out any necessary expenses to get the treatment you deserve.

The upside to getting the dental sealants is you won’t have to worry about cavities getting into the grooves of your molars.

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