Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Aspen Dental - where 4/4 of our patients suffer from periodontal disease


Thank goodness I made my annual check-up and cleaning appointment at my local Aspen Dental clinic and not just at a regular dentists office!

How else would I have known, that I, too, needed a Stage One Deep (not deep, deep) Cleaning Management Plan to cope with my stage of previously undiagnosed periodontal disease?!

I found my way to Aspen Dental from the list of providers my dental insurance plan works with. Evidently Aspen Dental is a hot one for them as I scrolled through page after page of names of dentists associated with the numerous Aspen Dental clinics around us.

OK, that made me a little leery. It already sounded like a quickie lube chain,but I figured all I need is a cleaning to get the tartar scrapped off my teeth, so, it should be alright. Right?

Aspen Dental Woburn sits in a strip mall off the interstate. The interior seemed clinicy enough. I had plenty of time to soak it in as I sat waiting for 45 minutes in the waiting room. Plenty of time to peruse the notice on their new oral cancer screening program which they hope will one day be as common as mammograms, pap smears or PSAs. I agree, early detection of cancers is important, but when the screening is a "TM" and presented on a sheet with statistics obviously intended to frightened you, I begin to wonder.

Finally, in for my X-rays because you see, Aspen Dental requires that you first make an initial appointment for X-rays and a evaluation to determine what level of cleaning you need before you can come in for the actual cleaning. OK, so, my dentist in Coppell did this, too. There I also thought it was a colossal waste of my time and a chance for them to double-bill the insurance, but I supposed this is just the way it works nowadays.

But, these were to be no ordinarily wing-bite X-rays. The technicians announced I will be having 18 x-rays! She claimed it was the normal "FMX" that everyone has every 3 - 5 years (so infrequent due to the large amount of X-raying required!). Its needed to review the health of not just the teeth, but roots as well. OK, fine, let's do it.

Then 15 mins later, I'm being led down the hall past the cubicles of dentist chairs to an empty one for me. In the cube, a wall poster of the stages of periodontal disease. Flyers of periodontal disease. A laminated USA Today story linking periodontal disease and heart disease. A brochure of Arestin (TM) antibiotic used to treat periodontal disease. A sample Rota-dent toothbrush and brochure. Hmmmmm, you think they're trying to tell me something? I suspected periodontal disease must be their speciality.

So, unsurprisingly, the dentist suggests I need a special "Deep, not deep, deep where we have to numb you all up" cleaning for my early stage periodontal disease. I make her explain in detail, point out on the X-rays exactly where this disease is. She fumbles a bit with mentioning the antibiotics and how I probably don't need it, but you never know until they begin to clean. The traditional part about cavities, etc, was quickly dispensed with.

From the dental cube, I'm taking to the "Appointments and Payment Planning" station. I see the lady filling out paper work with number like $800, $500 and $300..... and I'm beginning to get angry. I feel as if I've been set up all along and now comes the closer.

The $800 is the total cost of the Treatment Program Recommended by the Dentist. $500 is what my insurance would cover, leaving me to pay $300 out of pocket. That's outrageous I have to exclaim! Are they crazy, I think? I just want my teeth cleaned.

I'm fed up with it all and make the lady go through it line by line. Oh, what's this - a $150 toothbrush. "Yes, its recommended". I don't want it. "But, its what we suggest." I don't want it. "We recommend an electric toothbrush." I have one, I don't want it. Oh, and the $30 mouthwash - I don't want it. And, the $20, special paste - I don't want it. And the antibiotic which is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women - I don't want it.

And, then the follow up visit in 3-months with more over-priced mouthwash and special paste. Don't want it.

I refuse to sign the form outlining the program and related costs and my obligations to pay them.

I was just steaming as I left this schister scam clinic. My poor husband had to listen to me rant about it for the entire 20 minute drive home -- and many more times that day. And, now you had to suffer through my re-hash of it all. I could barely sleep last night thinking of all the dirty tricks they pulled.

I thought dentistry was an honorable profession! Its scams like this that drive up health care costs for everyone and mess up an already fragile system! Its schisters like this that take people for fools and steal their hard-earned money!!!

And, I'm not the only one to clue into this:
Boston Yelp
Aspen Dental scores single star in reviews
Complaints Board #1
Complaints Board #2


enTRpy said...

Thanks so much for posting about your experience at Aspen. I too got a similar diagnosis. The detailed treatment plan would cost me over $1000 out of pocket for so many things that seem to be unnecessary (including their overpriced toothbrush). Thankfully I didn't go ahead with their treatment plan and I'm certainly planning on getting a second opinion.

Pam said...

Aspen dental is a rip off place! On many occassions the staff treated me badly. It seems to me everytime I come back for my routine visit, I was always told I have more problems with my teeth. Often times the cost is out of pocket. I do really feel that they try to make extra money. During one of my visits, they wanted to close the office early. Although I was supposed to have a dental examination, they did not do it and said to wait until next time. The office staff did not explain anything to me. They also want me to pay before my appointment. When I questioned them about it, I was told that is their new policy. A few months later, I visited the office again and was told I did not make any appointments like I was supposed to. I said, "last time the office wanted to close early, no one told me about any follow up that I need to do." Anyway, I can write forever about my bad experiences and unprofessional attitude with Aspen Dental. Overall, they have been charging me a lot of out of pocket money. I just came to U. S when I first visited Aspen Dental and I feel as a health care provider, they should be trusted. However, Aspen Dental is a rip off. I suggest they close their doors for good and not take advantage of charging people for service not needed or covered by insurance, and for not communicating with patients in a courteous and effective manner. Aspen dental is the fast food dump of dentistry.

Anonymous said...

Most of my friends refer me to Aspen Dental. They found that Aspen give better dental service. But last time, I found out on that link their are people share their feedbacks about Aspen Dental.