Discount Dentistry – A Dentist’s Perspective

  Holding DentalPlans accountable to dental patients

Today, I got into a discussion with an anonymous DentalPlans sales rep who goes by “Dental Hygenie.” We are discussing the morality of deceptive advertising in the discount dentistry market and gullible, vulnerable dental patients. I’m hoping she’ll return to fasten down some loose ends. I’m pretty sure Hygenie is a woman.

“We don’t have our own dentists. We simply provide consumers with a list of dentists that accept dental plans. We are always researching and getting feedback. Thanks for all your questions Darrell, its been fun chatting with you today!”

My reply: I’m sorry you had to rush off, Dental Hygenie. I’ve sincerely enjoyed our conversation today and learned a lot about DentalPlans from you. I hope that the information we shared will help others understand their choice in dentists – including discount dentists promoted by DentalPlans who work for as little as 15% of their normal salary (A 30% discount based on an industry average of 65% overhead means a 5% net, versus a dentist’s full pay of 35% net). To clarify one of your statements, I should point out that you also wrote that DentalPlans dentists offer discounts as high as 60%. I think that quote must have been a typo. Anyone can see that if a dental practice has a 65% overhead, and sells dentistry at a 60% discount, the dentist would make more money by staying home. For example, if one nets a negative 25% on each widget one sells, making more widgets will only dig one deeper in debt. You really didn’t mean to advertise that DentalPlans offers 60% discounts, did you, Dental Hygenie? That would be misleading and probably illegal outside the Internet. Such deception certainly wouldn’t be ethical.

Even a 30% discount simply sounds incredible. As a dentist, I cannot imagine working 7 times faster to make the same amount of money I earn now, and still maintain the quality my patients expect of me. Dentistry is intricate, one-of-a-kind handwork performed to tight tolerances in juicy, wriggly mouths attached to occasionally nervous patients who sometimes show up late, or not at all. Please help me and others understand how dentists can discount their work by 85% and not go bankrupt.

I find another of your statements confusing. It may be a typo as well. You said, “You pay a one time fee starting at $79 for the year and start to receive your discounts almost immediately.” Did you mean to say there is a one time fee or a yearly fee starting at $79?

I’m hoping you will find time to return soon. I have other questions your potential customers would ask if they had a clue where to start. I’d like to discuss more about DentalPlans’ quality control with you. I’m glad to read that DentalPlans’ business partners like Aetna and BCBS scrutinize the dentists they send trusting and vulnerable patients to see. After all, to offer dentistry by the lowest bidders with no quality control would be morally bankrupt.

Whatever your name is, you just have to agree that since most people are clueless about dentistry, they are terribly vulnerable to being ripped off by anonymous salespeople. Let’s you and I make sure it doesn’t happen on Dental Facebook.

D. Kellus Pruitt DDS –