Here’s Why I Left My Dentist

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Kiera Butler manages to punch one of my buttons today in a piece about the growing problem of “creative diagnosis” in dentistry:

Upselling in dentistry isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s having a moment….A generation ago, newly hatched dentists would join established practices as modestly paid associates, with the promise of eventually becoming partners. But these days, with dentists retiring later, there’s less turnover in private practice. Instead, more and more young dentists are taking jobs with chains, many of which set revenue quotas for practitioners.

Some years ago, my local dentist was purchased by a chain operation. For a while, nothing seemed to change. But then things did. Was it the recession? Was the chain doing poorly and needed more revenue? Did they hire a new CEO? I’ll never know. What I do know is that over time I got more and more skeptical that their recommendations were based purely on best practices. Suddenly I needed lots of fillings replaced. I needed special antibiotic treatments that my insurance didn’t cover. I should be coming in every three months, not every six months. And sitting in the waiting room, I frequently overheard conversations that sounded more like they came from a stall in a Turkish bazaar than from a medical office in Southern California.

So I finally left and switched to a dentist recommended by a friend. No more antibiotics. My gums seemed to have been miraculously cured. Coming in twice a year was just fine.

Was my old dentist really pushing treatments that I didn’t need? I’ll never know with certainty. But it sure felt like it, and I simply lost confidence in them. It felt like the place was being run by the finance department, not by a bunch of doctors. Caveat emptor.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate