I’m worried this “affordable dentist” is going to kill my sister. My sister needed to replace a tooth. She’s a single mom and barely gets by financially. I wanted to help her, but she’s determined to do things on her own. I was relieved she decided on a dental implant instead of a removable partial denture. I knew enough to know she needed to preserve her bone structure, especially as young as she is. But, it turns out she just went to the dentist who charged the least. Since then, she’s had nothing but trouble. It’s been infected…twice. Now the post has broken, taking a chunk of bone with it. In order to get this repaired, she’s going to need expensive grafting. How could this happen?

Cassie H.

Cassie,

There’s a difference between cheap and affordable. Obviously, your sister got cheap. While a dentist can do everything right and a dental implant still fail, this sounds like the dentist cut some corners with the materials he used in order to keep his profits up while having lower prices to draw patients in. There’s nothing that can be done now to help your sister’s situation. She will need that bone grafting, but the infection will need to be dealt with first. In fact, if it’s affecting her bone and spreads it could be life threatening. Make sure she takes this seriously.

If she’s determined to see this through without help there’s not much you can do, but there are some helpful things you can suggest. The first would be another dentist. There are affordable dentists who don’t cut corners. Often they’ll offer some type of in-house dental plan, or they take payments for treatments through a service like Care Credit. This will get your sister the care she needs while allowing her to pay it out without accruing a ton of interest costs.

Another thing is preventative care. I don’t know why she lost a tooth so young. It could have been an accident, which isn’t necessarily preventable or it could have been because she avoided treatment because of costs. If it’s the latter, there are dentists who will work with patients in difficult financial situations, like your sister. Also, some cities have dental or hygiene schools in the area that give discount services. The care is good because they’re examined by a student and the teacher. They’ll do her x-rays, exam, and cleaning at a hygiene school. If there’s anything more serious they’ll send her to a clinic.

If she goes regularly, there’s much less of a chance of her needing such a serious procedure. When things are caught early they can be treated without invasive care.

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