It’s been over a year since I’ve written a column for the Weekly Villager. Thankfully our practice has become very busy and I have not had time to write. But, I just can’t stand by idly and not comment on recent events that have befallen the dental community.

An event occurred last week that that is outrageous, sad and unfortunate. ALLCARE DENTAL AND DENTURES, INC. closed its doors on its unsuspecting and trusting patients.  How can a dental care organization that is entrusted by the public to provide dental services be allowed to accept money when they know that those services are not going to be completed?  Did they just figure out that, “By gosh, we’re surprised that we don’t have money today…let’s close?”

Really, there’s no point in beating a dead horse, so to speak. They closed, people were left high and dry and it’s time to figure out what to do next and how to protect themselves so this does not happen again. This is true not only in selecting a dentist but extends to all walks of life. Whether you are buying a new mattress, piece of jewelry or having a roof installed on your house it is imperative that you DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND ASK QUESTIONS…LOTS OF QUESTIONS.

Since having been a dentist in both private practice and in the insurance industry for over 26 years I’m going to limit my views, opinions and suggestions to this field that I know best.

The old axiom, if it is too good to be true then it generally is, with a new coat of “dental paint” could sound like this: if every dentist I call charges somewhere in the vicinity of $1000 for a single denture how is it that this dental organization can do it for $350?

Explanations for such a difference in price can be chalked up to: the use of grossly inferior materials (resulting in more frequent repairs and replacement), dentists with limited clinical experience, using a dental laboratory that lacks adequately trained professionals, and an insufficient amount of time spent with the patient by the dentist to observe and record accurate information that needs to be conveyed to the dental lab for proper denture construction.

I just finished Googling” topics that are relevant to the ALLCARE closing and I’m appalled that ALLCARE is transferring their records to other dental organizations and offices. PEOPLE, WAKE UP!! ALLCARE EXECUTIVES ARE TELLING THE PATIENTS THEY JUST SWINDLED WHERE TO GO TO GET THEM OFF THEIR BACKS!  REALLY?. They must think their former patients are the village idiots to go along with such a laughable and ridiculous scheme. The patients are true victims, hard working, trusting and in need of dental help.   I would think LONG AND HARD before going to a dentist recommended by ALLCARE. Period.

Before going to another dentist, do some homework. Call the Ohio State Dental Board and ask them if there have been any actions taken against the dentist you anticipate seeing.

When you visit the dentist for the first time here are some questions and topics that I believe may help you:

1. What is the name of the dentist/owner?  Does he/she actually practice at the location you are considering going to?  Is the owner an out-of-town/out-of-state corporation?   It seems logical that resolving a problem with an owner who is local is easier than if he/she is out of town.

2. Tell me something about the dental lab that you use to make my denture. Dental labs should be in the USA only and never out of the country.  A reputable dental office should be able to tell you the name of the lab, where they are located and how long they have been in business. As a rule of thumb a dental lab and/or the lab technician should be in business for a minimum of 5 to 10 years.

3.  How many visits do you require to make my denture?  Generally, it takes University Dental, Inc.  five appointments to make a complete (full) or partial removable denture. When you’re consulting with a dentist he/she should explain the steps it takes to make the denture in understandable language. Also, there should be ample opportunity to ask questions. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE BEING TOLD. Don’t just nod in agreement if you truly don’t understand.  You should also be provided with a summary of the fabrication steps so that you can review the information out of the office.

4. Ask the dentist if the price of the denture(s) includes adjustments and for how long after the denture has been seated.  This information should be in writing. In my office we give every denture consult patient an information sheet that I wrote. Also, ask what is NOT included in the price of the denture.

The take-home message here is basically caveat emptor, which means let the buyer beware. Ask questions, listen carefully and follow your gut. My office is always available to answer general questions over the phone.

Dr. Richard Behrman and Dr. Thomas Pesarchick are co-founders of University Dental of Garrettsville, Inc. Please contact Dr. Behrman at 330-527-3368 with any questions.