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Second Opinions & Why They Can Be Worth It

1 Jun

My Situation

Many years ago my mother began going to this dentist a couple of blocks from our house and subsequently, I began going to the same dentist. Aside from having horribly crooked teeth, I only had one cavity or so as a kid. One.

Imagine my surprise when this dentist told me I had eight cavities.

I could not believe I had eight cavities but I was young and naive at the time. I allowed him to drill holes and fill them. I wouldn’t have thought that a dentist was trying to rip me off but then I really started to think about it—I could only see two cavities and they were smaller. How did I get eight all of a sudden?

Now, I believe that he lied. I believe that I only had two cavities and that he was willing to drill holes into my teeth to fill his pockets. I just got back from the dentist and I have no cavities. Isn’t it interesting that I take care of my teeth the exact same way that I did five or six years ago and I have yet to acquire another cavity?

It irks me to see the x-rays in my current dentist’s office and to see all of the fillings that my mom paid for out-of-pocket. She paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars for me to have my teeth filled and now, in retrospect, I think he was completely full of it. It hurts because my parents are low-income and it wasn’t just extra money. He also was a big proponent of getting my wisdom teeth pulled; in fact, he pulled one and was supposed to pull a second one. Then he gave me a referral to an oral surgeon so that I could get the other wisdom teeth removed since they were impacted. My current dentist flat out told me that he saw no real reason for me to get them removed. In fact, at first he said he didn’t recommend it because he doesn’t believe in removing wisdom teeth for the sake of removing them and would only suggest someone remove them if they were infected, pressing on a nerve or causing some type of pain. When I told him I was worried that they would make my teeth crooked again and that sometimes my jaw hurts when they try to push forward, he told me that it was really up to me whether or not I wanted to have it done but he didn’t think it was necessary. Additionally, he told me that I still had leftover glue on my teeth from braces that had been taken off five or more years ago! Annoyingly, this is after a cleaning at my previous dentist’s office. Why hadn’t they seen it and/or removed it?

Considering all of the information, I know in my heart of hearts that the old dentist was a liar.

My Friend’s Situation

My friend told me about a time she went to a dentist. She had never had a cavity in her life and went in there for a routine check-up and a cleaning. The dentist told her she had twenty-four cavities. Yes, you read that correctly—twenty-four cavities. Being that she had never had a cavity before, she was incredibly suspicious and made another appointment with a second dentist. She told her dentist what the first dentist had said. Shocked, he looked at her and said, “You have zero cavities. None.” She could not believe a dentist was willing to drill twenty-four holes into her mouth for what would have been very lengthy and expensive dental work.

How a Second Opinion Can Be Worth It

Although my post is about dental work, the anecdotes here can really be applied to anything. You can think about this in the context of any situation—roof repairs, electronic repairs, medical procedures—anything that might cost you a substantial amount of money. Keep in mind that second opinions can be useful for the following reasons:

  1. You Can Save Money – If I had gotten a second opinion, I probably would have saved hundreds of dollars, if not over a thousand dollars, in dental work.
  2. You Can Save Time – Can you imagine how much time my friend would have spent at the dentist to drill and fill twenty-four cavities? Getting that second opinion, which didn’t take a lot of time, saved her a lot of future dental work.
  3. You Can Save Yourself from Aggravation & Unnecessary Work – Now I am aggravated when I think about my teeth. I am disturbed that someone is willing to perform work on my teeth that is not necessary. What annoys me even more is that my mom went there for a significant amount of dental work and now I question how much of it was actually necessary.

Have you ever had an instance in which you wished you had gotten a second opinion? How about a time when you got a second opinion and heard a completely different answer?