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How to Get a Refund from a Dental Chain for Faulty Dental Work

Posted by haleighmpk

I’ve been visiting a large dental chain in Tucson for my dental checkups and treatment since 2015. I normally visit the chain’s location that is near my place of work, and I had multiple dental fillings placed there last year.

But I recently booked a checkup at a different location that’s closer to where I live, and at that location, the dentist told me I needed to crown a tooth that was filled only four months ago. When I told the dentist that tooth was recently filled at the other practice location, he got really quiet, and that’s when I started to get a little suspicious.

I decided to get a second opinion from a dentist who isn’t part of that dental chain. After she reviewed my X-rays and looked at my teeth, she confirmed that I did need a crown, but she also said that I would need to have almost all of the other fillings redone as well.

I almost don’t know who to believe, anymore. This new dentist does seem trustworthy, but I want to be compensated for all of that poorly done dental work before I go ahead and agree to her treatment plan.

How can I get a refund from the large dental chain that did such a terrible job on my fillings?

Colin from Tucson, AZ

Dear Colin,

We’re really sorry to hear that you’ve had an experience that shook your trust in dental professionals. It is possible that you have been a victim of dental malpractice, but we should warn you that it can be difficult to wrestle a refund out of these corporate dental chains.

Even so, we hope that the advice we can offer in this situation will help you make a confident and informed decision about your treatment.

Step #1: Get A Third Opinion

Here’s the very first thing you should do: seek a third opinion and make sure it’s a blind one.

This is important because what you need most right now is an unbiased assessment of your dental treatment needs. We can’t provide you with that here over the Internet, but we do suggest that you schedule a dental exam and X-rays with an independent dentist who knows nothing of your dental treatment history. In other words, don’t tell this new dentist about the treatment recommended by the other dentists.

This way, you will have one more professional opinion to weigh against the two you already have and this can give you leverage in your case. Additionally, you can be sure that the new treatment recommendations are based on what this new dentist sees in your mouth and on your X-rays, and that the recommendations are not influenced by their knowledge of your treatment history.

Remember to do the following before choosing a new dentist for your third opinion:

  • Request a copy of your dental X-rays and records from the other dentists you’ve seen
  • Choose a dentist who has no connections to the others you’ve visited
  • Do research to ensure that this new dentist has a solid reputation

After seeing this new dentist, make sure you leave with copies of your X-rays and records from that appointment.

Step #2: Enlist the Help of Your Current Dentist

It sounds like you may wish to let your current dentist provide your treatment. If you want to stay with her practice, tell her so and ask for her help in attempting to get a refund from the large dental chain. Let her know that you will be getting a blind third opinion.

Once you have that third (unbiased!) opinion, share the findings with your current dentist. She can then get in touch with the first dental practice which provided you with that faulty dental work and let them know that you have received professional evaluations from two independent dentists and use this as the basis for negotiating your refund.

Step #3: Confront the Dental Practice You Suspect Is at Fault

What if the original practice that provided you with the failed treatment refuses to refund you? Try to engage the practice in negotiations by doing the following.

  1. Threaten to leave a negative review. Let the practice know that you will be sharing a review of your negative experience online.
  2. Tell them you will file a formal complaint with your state dental board.
  3. Inform your dental insurance provider of the incident. If you had a dental benefits plan you used while visiting that original dentist, let them know what happened and ask if they can help support your case.
  4. Attempt to open a malpractice lawsuit against the practice. This is the final and most drastic option left to you, but it may not be worth pursuing unless you can furnish enough proof of significant financial loss and/or suffering. Simply mentioning that you will contact an attorney may be enough to motivate the dental chain to compensate you.

The Challenge of Visiting Dental Chains

Once again, we’re sorry to learn about your negative experience, Colin. It may comfort you to know that independent dentists are a very ethical group, on the whole.

Dentists who work in the corporate setting are also dedicated professionals, but they tend to see such a high volume of patients that it is hard for them to render the personal level of care that each patient deserves. Many of these dentists are under pressure to meet production goals that support the growth of the chain, and some may even be new dentists who have accepted a corporate position to gain some experience.

Such factors can sometimes result in an unfortunate lapse in the high standard of care that most dentists truly want to provide.

A young woman is smiling as she sits in the dental chair because she is visiting a dentist she trusts.
Visiting a dentist who knows you personally can help you to feel confident in the treatment you receive.

By choosing an independent dentist with a stellar reputation and extensive experience, you will work one-on-one with a professional you can trust and develop a long-term relationship with. You will then be able to move ahead with full confidence in the recommended treatment plan.

Having a dentist you can trust becomes all the more important when you are considering major treatment like dental implants or porcelain veneers.

This post is sponsored by Douglas AZ Dentist Dr. Gilberto Tostado.