New service puts overcharging dentists on notice

Seniors no longer need to put up with expensive dental work, thanks to a new website.

New service puts overcharging dentists on notice

Australians are increasingly avoiding visiting dental clinics, putting not only their oral health, but their overall health in jeopardy, according to dentist Dr David Hills.

The owner of two Gold Coast dental practices, Dr Hills is “alarmed” by the trend and is on a mission to help remove the barriers to seeking cost-effective and transparent dental services.

On Monday, to coincide with the start of Dental Health Week, his brainchild, iNEEDadentist.com, will go live. The online portal will allow people to compare services and prices of dentists in their area and grow a trusted community of practitioners.

Users will be able to view 3D virtual tours of dental clinics, check reviews, identify dental clinics that are child-friendly, have onsite X-ray facilities, offer weekend appointments, have free wifi, or even Netflix to watch while treatment is performed.

“We’re facing a dental dilemma that’s impacting both our quality of life and our economy,” Dr Hills said. “Almost 31.7 per cent of Australians avoid visiting a dentist due to cost.

“And 30 per cent of Australians with private dental cover haven’t visited their dentist in the last year – even though nearly all private health policies provide rebates for preventative dental care. We need to address what is stopping them.”

Dr Hill said iNEED uses an intuitive interface to connect patients with dental clinics that meet their needs – their preferred location, the service they’re after (which will prompt a guide of what that service should cost), links with health insurance providers and specialisations in procedures such as implants, whitening and same-day crowns.

Removing yet another pain-point for patients, the advertisement-free site enables comparisons and bookings to be made around the clock and, in a nod to Australians’ concerns over the privacy of their data, the portal will not share anyone’s personal information.

It will, however, encourage users to rate their experiences for display on the site.

In a bonus for low-income patients, the portal has partnered with zipMoney to offer interest-free payment plans for dental work at participating practices.

While the portal is available around the nation, until it builds up its registry of affiliated dental clinics, there will be some suburbs in which only a limited number, if any, are suggested.

There are other dental comparison sites, but their scopes are more limited. My Tooth Fairy, for example, offers only comparisons in metropolitan Melbourne, and smile.com.au charges an annual fee of $79 before users can select a dentist from its 2000 “approved” practices. The Australian Dental Association also has a registry of members you can search, however, it does not contain details of services/amenities or offer quotes for comparison's sake.

Dental Health Week is conducted from 6 August to 12 August by the Australian Dental Association. The theme this year is “Watch your Mouth”. One of the campaign’s key messages will be that people ought to cut down the number of snacks they have in between meals. Grazing prevents a build up of enamel-protecting saliva in the mouth, increasing the risk of cavities.

Do you have any tips for healthy teeth? How long have you been visiting the same dentist? What was the best/worst dental experience you ever had?

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    COMMENTS

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    Dave R
    3rd Aug 2018
    10:19am
    I am pretty sure Australian dentists have the highest fees in the world. We have a place in the Philippines and get dental work done when visiting there. Cost is about 10% of what you pay here and the materials and professionalism is the same.
    mogo51
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:36am
    Could not agree more. live in Philippines and the cost is nowhere near Oz costs which are way past professional robbery. Right up there with lawyers and medical specialists. Recently had a clean/polish for P500 ($13au). The last one u had in Oz 15 years ago was $180???
    Rosret
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:11pm
    Sydney Endodentist quoted $2800 for a root canal on a tooth already crowned. I am sure he spent a lot of time studying at Uni but by golly that's big money.
    Its not a heart op with a medical team of highly trained professionals.
    jackie
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:13pm
    I can’t see the sense in getting huge holes drilled to remove dental decay and then have the hole filled with a resi that will last up to 3 years. The dental decay may not go further or it may take up to 20 years to get worse. Hang on to your natural teeth no matter what, falsies are never the same.
    Anonymous
    3rd Aug 2018
    10:25pm
    things have changed Mogo51, recently had clean/polish 2 xrays at a pacific smiles clinic cost about $340. I think that it outrageous for 20 minutes work.
    Waiting to retire at 70
    3rd Aug 2018
    10:35am
    I checked it and didn't find it helpful in terms of costs.

    It identified 2 dentists near me - fine.

    It said the average for the procedure I inquired about was $250 to $450. That's NOT an average. That's a "range". And with a range of 80% between the lowest figure and the upper most figure, it tells me only one thing. It is a nonsense site. You'll only get details of those who pay this site to advertise on and who ends up paying for that? Hmmm.

    I went here:
    https://www.ada.org.au/Find-a-Dentist
    Found 7 local dentists. Went to my Health insurer, asked them what they contributed for this procedure and they told me from their records what claims have been made for similar services from those 7 dentists, whom I rang and confirmed their current pricing for the service.

    Going to a paid site only means you'll be paying the site provider part of the cost your dentist charges. Nah, I'll always try the professional associations first.
    KSS
    3rd Aug 2018
    2:10pm
    A bit harsh Waiting, the site will provide greater comparative value once it is more established and higher numbers of dentists join in. At the very least people can check costs and decide what they want to do. I don't think this will lead to lower prices though. Unless dental products come down in price (and that includes the equipment dentists use eg the chair, drills, xray machines as well as consumables and individual prosthesis) there will be no relief for the patients.
    Olga Galacho
    3rd Aug 2018
    2:25pm
    Hi Waiting to retire: Olga, here. I will include the ADA finder in the copy. Thanks for pointing it out, cheers
    Seenitall
    3rd Aug 2018
    8:29pm
    I have just had a crown done at my regular dentist in regional Victoria and was charged $1,600. The iNEEDadentist.com site gives a price range of $1,500 to $3,000 for a crown so I was either charged at the budget end of the scale or, much more likely, an average price for the work. I would be interested to hear from other people who have had crowns done recently as my dentist has said I will need another tooth crowned in the near future.
    Razor
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:13am
    Have not been to an Aussie dentist for 15 years. I have all my dental work done in Bali at 1/3 the cost. Great results and the clinic I use there is as good as anything I have seen at home.
    jackie
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:15pm
    All overseas dentists are cheaper and better than what are here.
    Rosret
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:38pm
    Are they Jackie?
    I know its much cheaper to have dental work in China. I wondered how the things that cost the most and require return visits like crowns and root canals would work out? Anything less and its easier to cough up and get them fixed in Australia.
    jackie
    5th Aug 2018
    11:42am
    Rosret...Thailand is fine and many around the world go there for heart surgery too. Of course this would be more difficult in a communist country. A nice 12 week holiday in Thailand would give you plenty of time for return visits and the beauty of it all the place is practically on our doorstep.
    Bev
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:14am
    Love someone to tell me the names of dentists they have used overseas where they have had a really pleasant experience, so I can research and decide where I should head for cheaper dental work. Bev
    Razor
    3rd Aug 2018
    1:41pm
    Bev, I have my work done by Dr Hilda in Singaraja Bali. Trained in Germany and a true professional. Had 3 crowns done a year ago for 1200 aus dollars, I think the cost in Ozz us around 1500 each.
    Anonymous
    3rd Aug 2018
    10:22pm
    Bev some years ago I lived in Bangkok for 4 years and went to 2 places to have my teeth done including root canals (of course have to be there for a while for those). St Louis Hospital and BNB (Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital) both have dental sections. St Louis was cheaper, dentists speak English, most if not all at reputable hospitals are trained overseas. There are many other dental clinics but I have no experience with those. Check out the ones I mentioned on line and at least get some idea.
    Anne
    8th Aug 2018
    10:44am
    Bev: my son and I went to the Bangkok International Dental Centre a few years ago. He had his wisdoms out and I got a bridge over my front uppers. Was very cheap and they did a great job. Plus we had a nice holiday...
    sunnyOz
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:16am
    Not just dentists......Had a small crack in my partial plate, barely seeable, less than 10mm in length. Went to the same guy I always use. Said he could not work out how the crack had appeared. Cost to repair? $225. Rebate - $66.50. Left plate at 11.00am. Returned to pick up - 12.15.
    casey
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:46am
    Super glue would have fixed it for $2-00
    johninmelb
    3rd Aug 2018
    2:11pm
    I very much doubt super glue is a medically approved substance you would want to put in your mouth.
    Ferny
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:23am
    Cost is, sadly, not the only consideration. If you choose your dentist only on the basis of what they charge, you may very well not make a good choice. Quality of the service is paramount, but actually hard to judge usually and then there’s also the risk of overservicing. Be aware that it’s sometimes hard to tell whether a particular procedure is really needed.

    Note that some folk are happy to spend $1000s on holidays but complain about a few $100s spent on what might be a life saving procedure.

    AND if you really feel you can’t afford to go the dentist as regularly as you should, at least try to practise the best dental care at home with a good electric tooth brush and daily flossing. Not hard to do and not expensive.
    mogo51
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:38am
    You must be a dentist or do their advertising!!!
    Rosret
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:16pm
    Ferny - I miss out on holidays because of the cost of dentistry.
    I know it is important to pay for the best but the cost IS staggering and I just wonder how people who are not so fortunate manage.
    What do the poor people do when the pain sets in?

    PS Are you sure about the electric toothbrushes. They clean beautifully but I do wonder if they are wearing down the enamel and/or exposing the gum.
    johninmelb
    3rd Aug 2018
    2:14pm
    I've been using an electric toothbrush for the last 30 years at least. No problems whatsoever. Even the dental hygienist at my clinic says how good my teeth are from using the electric brush. Makes her job easier, no so much scale etc. to clean off.
    jackie
    5th Aug 2018
    11:46am
    johninmelb...It was a dentist trained in Canada that recommended me an electric toothbrush over 40 years ago and I have never had any problems....They are the best invention.
    PlanB
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:37am
    YES they do change like wounded bulls -- but always good to go to a dentist that you know well or have been recommended to
    HarrysOpinion
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:40am
    A bloke told his grandson who is a motor mechanic, " if you ever find out the customer is a dentist, tell the dentist that," there will be a car cleaning fee of $150 before he starts any service repair work". If the dentists says, "But my car is already clean" ...respond, "So are my teeth that I cleaned myself before seeing any dentist but they charge me $150-$250 for the mandatory teeth cleaning procedure " !!! So charge them a mandatory car cleaning fee just like the dentists do !!
    Cookie1
    19th Oct 2019
    4:06am
    Urghhhh - I won't judge you for this statement because this just demonstrates what a bad job the dental industry is doing in educating the general public. PS: you can't clean your own teeth professionally yourself. You cant treat gum infection completely yourself - the majority of adults have gum disease or precursors to it, you need it professionally cleaned and disinfected or you'll end up potentially losing more teeth-which is actually more costly and expensive - much more than 15-250! This isn't your fault that you dont know that. Dental Industry has to step up.
    tisme
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:56am
    talk about gold fingered.. I went for a check up and was told I needed 3000.00 worth of work, I dont have that kind of money. yet if I lose my teeth other issues eg tmj will be made worse. I have waited 3 years so far on the public list
    jackie
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:17pm
    You will be waiting forever. Good dental hygiene and diet are the best treatment
    Rosret
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:44pm
    Jackie - we are the no fluoride generation. When we were children a glass of coke with a baby tooth would dissolve it overnight.

    You are right in everything you say however I think the horse has bolted on the baby boomer generation and its time to pay up regardless of good diet and cleaning our teeth.
    HarrysOpinion
    3rd Aug 2018
    4:05pm
    Wish I drank alcohol spirits instead of Coke. At least the alcohol would have prevented tooth decay. Too late now.

    Beware: If you are a gagger then upper dentures might not be suitable.
    Rosret
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:05pm
    Dentists! My mouth is worth a small fortune!
    You can go to a cheap dentist and pay $250 then two months later you can go back to Mr Reliable and pay $2000 to really get it fixed.
    So now I bypass the cheap guy and save $250.
    I was thinking maybe it would serve me better to drop out of private medical with extras cover and just save that money for the dentist.
    jackie
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:18pm
    A cheap holiday to Thailand could solve that.
    Rosret
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:45pm
    That sounds like a really good idea.
    Charlie
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:10pm
    These days I get age pensioners free dental, but spent 10 years on disability pension when I was entitled to it, but didn't get it. This is because the decay had to be so bad the tooth was lost to extraction, before I received any service.

    A private dentist would see $1500 of essential work. A government dentist would see none.

    By now, fillings should be on medicare. The age pension or health fund services should cover people for full caps without extra costs.

    When I got my first filling as a child, I never though progress in dentistry would be so slow. With the xrays and mercury fillings I've had, it is little wonder I have nerve diseases that no doctor can understand.
    johninmelb
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:11pm
    Would agree with those who have said that you don't choose a dentist solely based on cost. Like doctors, hairdressers etc, you have to find someone you are comfortable with, someone who will give you the care you need and you are happy with.

    My dentist charges over the odds. Always has done. Why do I go there? Because he looks after me. I used to be terrified of dentists. With this guy, I can walk into the room, sit down and be completely at ease. He explains everything to me as he is working, there are no surprises, and it is mostly painless. He also works with me and my budget, and finds cost effective ways to solve problems where possible. All his staff are excellent as well. When I have had major work done, such as extractions etc., they will call me later in the day to make sure I got home safely, and that I am ok. They will call again next morning to ensure I had no problems during the night. Yes, I pay for that, but I am paying for excellent care and reassurance. Hard to put a price on that. And not only that, when I have an emergency, they will find time and fit me in no matter what.

    I have been going to this clinic for 50 years now, and have only seen 3 different dentists in that time. Everyone of them has been excellent. The current one just bought out his partner, so he will be there for quite some time, saving me the worry of having to find someone else. I keep going there even though I no longer live in the area. Even when I lived in Queensland for a time, I scheduled the times I came back to Melbourne to visit friends and family around my dental check-ups.
    KB
    3rd Aug 2018
    12:41pm
    Not all dentists are bad. Some do offer discounts particularly if you are a pensioner. Never go to one. Had too many bad experiences .Concepts sound good of being able to review dentists
    The pom
    3rd Aug 2018
    2:38pm
    Some time ago I was going to a dentist on a regular basis, until he told me that my teeth needed special attention, and he referred me to another dentist. My visit to the referred dentist was half an hour while he picked away at my teeth and then told me I needed a series of appointments. I decided to try another dentist who did a quick deposit removal, examined my teeth and made an appointment for 6 months time, charging a very reasonable fee. I stayed with him until he retired, and my teeth are still pretty good well into my 80's
    Life experience
    3rd Aug 2018
    3:00pm
    Can’t believe that HBF is not listed on the site. It’s one of the most popular in WA.
    And I had a look and the costs for a clean quoted AVE. 230 AUD - MAX. 450 AUD)
    ROOT CANAL TREATMENT (AVE. 1,500 AUD - MAX. 3,000 AUD) That does not help much at all. Massive difference between the low and high price. Very expensive prices quoted on the site. Dental products cost a lot but the mark up by dentists is excessive. It needs to be controlled. Where people can add the prices they paid for a procedure for people to compare with their experience. And make informed choices.
    I know with surgeons and Anaesthetists , some charge a lot and some don’t and because they are expensive does not mean they are better. I d say it would be the same with dentists. Some are greedy and some are fair.
    Life experience
    3rd Aug 2018
    3:00pm
    Can’t believe that HBF is not listed on the site. It’s one of the most popular in WA.
    And I had a look and the costs for a clean quoted AVE. 230 AUD - MAX. 450 AUD)
    ROOT CANAL TREATMENT (AVE. 1,500 AUD - MAX. 3,000 AUD) That does not help much at all. Massive difference between the low and high price. Very expensive prices quoted on the site. Dental products cost a lot but the mark up by dentists is excessive. It needs to be controlled. Where people can add the prices they paid for a procedure for people to compare with their experience. And make informed choices.
    I know with surgeons and Anaesthetists , some charge a lot and some don’t and because they are expensive does not mean they are better. I d say it would be the same with dentists. Some are greedy and some are fair.
    Ausdigga
    3rd Aug 2018
    3:15pm
    The trouble with going to the dentist is when you get there , there is a DENTIST waiting for YOU. ????????

    3rd Aug 2018
    5:33pm
    Put dental costs under Medicare. Simple. And it would save money, because bad teeth lead to other health problems.
    Greg
    3rd Aug 2018
    5:45pm
    Mother-in-law went to a local dentist, she's 80 plus and he wanted to pull out 7 teeth and install dentures - $7000. Family talked her into getting a second opinion, second dentist no way wanted to pull the teeth (due to health issues), repaired for a few hundred dollars.
    ph
    3rd Aug 2018
    7:31pm
    What I don't get is how dental treatment has never been part of medicare. And I love how they wait until your in the chair, have the syringe in their hand, and then tell you the cost. That's perfect, wait until we're in a vulnerable position then tell us the cost. Talk about stand over tactics.
    johninmelb
    3rd Aug 2018
    8:16pm
    You need to change dentists then. Mine does not do that. We always discuss what needs to be done, how it can be done, what is urgent, what can be deferred, what it is going to cost, and how I am going to pay for it - long before I agree and then make the appointment to start the actual treatment.
    OnlyDaughter
    3rd Aug 2018
    10:42pm
    I worked at a major Australian University for decades. There were many overseas students especially in dentistry, as there still are. Australian universities need overseas paying students because of the cut backs in government funding for domestic students. I know of three overseas dentistry students in one year of the BDSc course that failed a major exam. They went to the then Head of School and complained and the HOS then went to the lecturer and asked him to pass these 3 students. He quite rightly refused to do so, but as a compromise he offered the three failed students a re-sit of the exam which the HOS accepted. On the day of the new exam, only 2 of the 3 previously failed overseas students bothered to turn up and they both resat the exam but only 1 of them passed. The Head of School ignored everything that had gone before, and then passed all three overseas students. The lecturer was incensed and resigned but not before telling the then President of the ADA who told me. Soft marking of Australian students never happened and unfortunately this was not an isolated incident involving overseas students. I have seen students graduate who could hardly string 6 English words together, so your guess is as good as mine as to how they understood lectures and who they got to ghost their assignments and exams.
    Yes, the cost of dental treatment in Australia is beyond unreasonable and this is the key reason why people don't visit their dentist, but the alternative, to go overseas and take pot luck with the abilities of an overseas dentist is not something I would risk.
    GeorgeM
    3rd Aug 2018
    11:22pm
    We badly need independent websites which compare prices AND patient's reviews / assessments for all Medical services. Govt should give this priority rather than MHR.

    Professional association websites are cover-ups which never indicate which providers you should avoid, and don't allow price comparisons or provide patient's feedback reviews.
    tex
    8th Aug 2018
    2:04pm
    We should all join the dentist,union one out all out.


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