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Aspen Dental / unneeded procedures / hidden charges

1 Brooklyn, OH, United States Review updated:

The following takes place after just one visit to Aspen Dental:

After using the same dentist for 15+ years, I had a change in insurance and was forced to find a different dentist. Despite all of the complaints I had read about Aspen Dental, I chose to go through a new patient visit and have x-rays taken. After waiting for 30 minutes past my scheduled appointment time I was finally called in for my x-rays. Following the x-rays I was directed back towards the area where the dental chairs were (which all had tv's attached to them...expensive?). I sat there and watched CSPAN for another 25-30 minutes before the dentist came over to talk with me. After glancing at my x-rays she told me that she already saw a few cavities. She finally came over to examine my mouth. She mumbled something about more cavities and gingivitis, never giving me a good explanation of what she saw. Now, I had waited 1 year after my last cleaning (and I had regularly gone for cleanings every 6 months for the past 15 years or so), so I thought maybe it was possible that I had a cavity or two. She told me I had 8! And she told me that there are two more that I need to keep an eye on because they could become cavities. I was shocked. I'm not going to say I brush after every meal or floss every day, but I take pretty good care of my teeth. I thought there was no way I had 8 cavities. But I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I sat down to talk to the "financial advisor" about the treatment I would need. Still shocked from learning I had 8 cavities I listened to the financial advisor tell me that a cleaning, some flouride treatment, and the filling of all 8 of my cavities would cost me $725 AFTER INSURANCE. What??!! Since I was recently laid off, there was no way I could fork over that kind of money upfront, so he convinced me to apply for a CareCredit account where I could make payments over 18 months to pay for the treatment. I scheduled my next appointments (the cleaning and the fillings) and left fairly upset.

I didn't get very far before a little something called cognitive dissonance kicked in. I felt like I was being ripped off. After confiding in some friends they felt the same way. I went back to Aspen to speak with the financial advisor and go over the charges line by line. According to my calculations, 8 cavities should run me $400 after insurance. What was the other $325? In the line items, there was a toothbrush that they were going to 'give' me for $135 (not covered by insurance); A full mouth debridement for my 'periodontal disease' $50; some mouthwash for $24; irrigation (?) for $35; some toothpaste for $24; and the list goes on. Most of those items were not covered by insurance.

I ended up calling my old dentist (who I trust a great deal) and asking him if he could check out my mouth and see if I really do have 8 cavities and gingivitis. He agreed to a limited consultation. I went to him a few days later and told him where they thought the cavities were. After a close examination (of 15 minutes or so - which was longer than the lady at Aspen looked at my teeth for) he told me that I have 1 cavity. ONE. Maybe two. NOT EIGHT! I was pretty mad. I told him about how they said I had gingivitis and they suggested that I have a debridement done. His demeanor went from disbelief to anger. He knew they were ripping me off. He explained how someone would need a debridement if they had hunks of tartar and what he called "calculus" on their teeth and bleeding gums etc. I have none of that. In fact, he took pictures of my teeth to show how I didn't have any problems like that. Then he showed me pictures of someone who did need debridement...yuck. As I said, he was upset that a dental office would be doing that to patients and charging them so much for it. He told me not to worry about paying for my consultation. I thought that was very nice of him.

I cancelled my appointments at Aspen Dental. I found out a week later that when they opened that line of credit so that I could pay for the future services, they already charged me the $725. They didn't do anything to me yet! I called and had them reverse it, told them I wouldn't be coming back and explained why. I wasn't mean. If the lady on the phone was willing to listen I would tell her the truth. She told me to be aware that different dentists have different opinions. Then she explained to me that when she came to Aspen Dental for a check-up, they told her she had periodontal disease too with 3 and 4 mm pockets (just like me) and her old dentist missed it because he was old and didn't keep up on his continuing education. I don't know how she could give me advice on dental work since she is a financial advisor...plus she works there! I'm sure she's paid to say they are the best.

I'm just still really frustrated with Aspen. I highly advise you to stay away from this chain. It's not worth the headache. Good luck to you in your search for a good dentist. As for me, I'm working on changing my insurance so that I can go back to my original dentist.

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Comments

  • As
      11th of Jun, 2009
    0 Votes

    last year I had a tooth extraction at Aspen Dental.
    My regulr dentist referred me to dental surgeon not covered by my insurance, so I went to Aspen Dental since it was close and covered by my insurance. Biggest mistake ever.
    Before any of the work was done, Aspen Dental required an upfront payment of what the indicated would be my portion of the bill, $353.40.
    The extraction was normal, received a few novocain shots, tooth was taken out, and I drove home. A few weeks later, I recieved an explanation of benefits from my insurance company, and come to find out I was billed for IV Sedation, and Analgesia Nitrous Oxide (I didn't receive either, and I don't think I could have driven home if I did). After a series of complaints with Aspen Dental, Mastercard, and my insurance company, I finally received a Mastercard refund of $303.40, and a payment summary sheet with all of the charges and the refunds from Aspen Dental Mgmt Inc
    So in addition to trying to provide you with additional services that you don't need, they also may try to charge you for additional services that you didn't get.

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