I never got to go to the dentist as a child. I saved up for two years to go now that I’m in college, just to see what I’m dealing with. He said my mouth was in horrible shape and I needed something called a full mouth reconstruction. I knew there’d be some problems because I’d never been, but I was surprised with how dire my outlook was, especially since my teeth have never bothered me (except for how they look). The way he described the reconstruction sounded like I’d really benefit and my teeth would be pretty, but the price is way above anything I can afford. My roommate said I should ask about affordable dentists. She said that’s what her parents always used. They have less frills but you still get care. Can I get one of those for the reconstruction I need?

Mindy L.

Dear Mindy,

Dollar sgn hatching out of an egg

How admirable that you’ve made such an effort to see a dentist. I wish more older adults were as conscientious as you are. Before we get into a reconstruction I want to caution you. Something feels off about this to me.

While I’m sure there were some issues, if you’ve experienced no pain at all, I doubt you really even need a full mouth reconstruction. You should have been in massive pain. I’d love to hear more specifics of why he said you needed one. I don’t want to see you taken advantage of by someone disreputable.

I’d like you to get a second opinion from another dentist in the area. Some dentists will even give you a free second opinion.

Getting a Second Opinion for Affordable Dental Care

When you go in, don’t tell them who the first dentist was or what his diagnosis was. Just go in and tell him you’re looking for a second opinion on a diagnosis you received that seems questionable to you. Tell him you’ll be happy to tell them the dentist and diagnosis after they give their unbiased opinion.

If it turns out he misled you, please turn the dentist into the ethics board. Most dentists are honest and it’s the bad apples that make life harder for the rest of us.

However, if it turns out you do need a full-mouth reconstruction, that’s not something you price shop for. It is one of the most technically advanced procedures a dentist can do. You don’t want it to simply go to the lowest bidder. There are other ways of making this more affordable.

Instead, talk about ways of phasing out treatments. If planned correctly, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Get the work done on a schedule of most urgent to least. Also, be clear you want to save as much natural tooth structure as possible.

Fillings before crowns. Crowns before extractions. If you need an extraction, dental implants are the ideal replacement but are pricey. However, it’s worth it to get a temporary cheaper one while you save up the good one, especially as young as you are.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.