When I moved to the U.S. at some point, like everyone else who moves to a new place, I had to find a dentist. But this wasn’t so easy as I thought…
My dentists abroad in Europe never used an x-ray, expect one single time to locate and extract my wisdom teeth.
Let me highlight this once again: my dentists in Europe never even mentioned the word “x-ray” to me! So naturally, the last thing I expected were two dozen x-rays to fix a simple filling.
I request a simple teeth cleaning job and I’m thrown out. They sing the same song “no reasonable dentist in this country will see you without x-rays”. Well the good news is these dentists are wrong, but this issue is upsetting anyways.
So what’s going on here? My way or the highway? What is this Nazi-like attitude?
Meet the New Antisocial Industry: Dentists
In my quest to find a “reasonable” dentist here in the Baltimore, Washington D.C. area, I visited over a handful dentists here, one worse than the other.
After visiting some forums online I noticed I’m not the only one who noticed something is wrong here:
- you check in, even just for teeth cleaning, and they insist on taking x-rays. Not just one, a dozen and more!
- they send you straight back home if you refuse, even if you had a little tooth pain, for example from under a filling. I never needed x-rays to replace fillings in Europe, but here everything is different.
- they insist on regular x-rays for no reason…”just in case”. No thank you!
- and this one is the biggest one: they x-ray you after the procedure is finished, something I found out is called “defensive medicine”, just in case you are a weirdo and want to take legal action against them.
- when you refuse to take more x-rays at any stage, including even during treatment, guess what: they send you home. With a hole in your tooth that they drilled and left open. They don’t care. “My way or the highway”!
- they don’t even look at your mouth anymore, just x-rays. They might look into mouth for 30 secs and then talk for half an hour looking at x-rays. That tells me one thing: they need to sell the need for x-rays, and they are no longer skilled dentists who can just look at the tooth and see what’s going on. Again I’m talking about simple fillings, not serious root canal infections and the like.
- Now you may think “I better take my x-rays with me when I switch dentists”. Well, they already thought about that, too. They will tell you “these x-rays aren’t made of good quality, we have to take new ones” as soon as you walk in the door… Hey and that’s a great way to prevent you from switching from dentist to dentists, huh!
- I took the exact same x-rays to four dentists and received four different treatment plans with little overlap. Where one dentist said the tooth is OK, the other expected a “deep filling”. You see, dentists became fortune readers. Their fortune turns out to be your “supposedly” bad tooth with imaginary cavities!
- if you want to keep your dentist, buckle up: go twice a year and get your “full” dose of radiation. Just in case there is a bad cavity!
- Imagine your three year old getting x-rayed yearly for no justifiable medical reason.
Hence, I objected: “How come in Europe they do it without x-rays? Are they all unreasonable dentists over there? Should we send them back to school so they turn out like you?”
The best answer I got was “it sounds like a different school of thought over there”. Yes indeed. Here it appears we have the Dental Board of Little Adolfs…
Well it also appears x-rays bring in a lot of money, too, what a coincidence! I paid $450 for a simple cleaning and the “mandatory x-rays”.
Welcome to Dr. Adolf’s dentistry!
So this is how unreasonable it gets: they x-ray you when they are done so that they are able to “prove” they did a sufficiently good job, in case you come back with a lawyer.
And you pay for this in dollars as well as with an increase in your risk of developing cancer, such as thyroid cancer, see Dental X-Ray Cancer Risks, List of Scientific Studies. Yes, the radiation dose today sooo low. That’s why we now take two dozen x-rays rather than just one to do the job. Then they compare dental x-rays to background radiation, which is probably the most illogical reasoning coming from a dentist mouth ever.
You want a simple tooth cleaning? Yeah you could get this done for less than $100 elsewhere, without x-rays, but here they insist you need x-rays first. The whole mouth plus individual x-rays of each single corner, like 16 x-rays in total. For no reason. Well for $450 in my case 🙂 They want you to be “part of their practice”, not just coming for a random cleaning…. Interesting. It’s like joining a church.
Well and their attitude has a good reason: s/he needs to make some money and after all if you do happen to get cancer, who cares? Your problem! Yeah, you could have a rat under one of your teeth, wouldn’t you want to know?
Imagine if all those thyroid cancer patients had an accurate way to prove it was their dentists who gave them cancer, how many dentists would still x-ray you?
How to Find a Reasonable Dentist Who Works Without X-Rays
First of all there are empathetic and great dentists out there who work without x-rays. Do not believe this B.S. that “no one” will help you. And no, they never miss a cavity either. When you are properly trained you know how to look at teeth, not just x-rays.
OK this is how I found dentists who are reasonable, empathetic, skilled, open-minded, experienced, and actually talk to patients and treat them in a way they want to be treated…..without x-rays:
- Go to bing and look for holistic dentists in your area. And perhaps visit http://holisticdental.org
- Do not call them or visit them. It’s a gigantic waste of time and you will find all this unreasonable rejection to be disappointing. Some of these holistic dentists are “fake”. They will give you the same crap the do in person about “x-rays are so safe today” and “the radiation dose is so low”. Yes, in the past the dose was higher and they took one x-ray. Now it’s lower, they take 20 x-rays for a simple filling and another 10 x-rays three months later “for check-ups”. There is a pile of scientific data out there to question the safety of dental x-rays and they neither know anything about it, nor care about your health anyways. A dentist who doesn’t back off when you tell them you don’t want something, isn’t working on your behalf. And again we’re not talking about life-threatening conditions that warrant x-rays, we’re talking about a simple teeth cleaning job or replacing a small filling.
- Write an email template where you describe what kind of dentist and service you are looking for and specifically mention that you do not want x-rays, unless there is a serious health issue that has been identified by the dentist and that clearly requires x-ray images. After all you are not unreasonable yourself. X-rays are very useful when you have a known/visible condition, such as a root abscess or the like, or severe symptoms. My post is obviously about people who have little troubles with their teeth and are yet bombarded with unnecessary radiation.
- Send at least 100 emails (simply swap out the email address and first line “dear dr. Doolittle”). You get the email addresses from the holistic dental website or the dentist’s websites. The “success rate” for me was around 2%, response rate 5%, so you need a lot of emails. By the way this process is called “reverse marketing”, where the customer markets him/herself to the provider, not the other way around, that would appear the usual route. See how bad this market has become, we have to market ourselves to them in order to get our teeth treated!
- Watch the silence 😉 and the first emails come in.
- Hint: when you get emails with the usual “no reasonable dentists in this country will do this”, do not bother answering. Remember Ali G: “Talk to the hand because the head ain’t listening…” Be prepared they will email you this stuff so be cool and ignore, don’t get upset, there are too many Adolf dentists out there unfortunately. It’s an entire army, not just a couple, and they work with collective forces against you until you budge because of your tooth pain.
- Finally, sometimes weeks later, you’ll receive the email response from the ideal dentist. I mean the reasonable good dentist who is on your side.
- Pay them cash and ditch the dental insurance. If you think about it, a lot of this exploitation started with dental insurance.
- Thank them for being human, unlike the rest who only believes in dollars and B.S. coming from the A.D.A.
Here is an example email response I received from a reasonable, awesome, experienced, and empathetic dentist:
Yes I totally understand and will be happy to work with you and your family! I will guide all of you on how to take care of your teeth with natural and organic materials and your safety, health and beliefs are our priority. Looking forward to meeting you!
Pls call us to set up appt.
Jackpot! We found the dentist we wanted without going through disappointing, time-wasting, upsetting, and expensive office visits!
How come people go to Starbucks and get upset when they order a super complex late with 12 ingredients and something is “missing”, but at the dentist office we are supposed to shut up, get pushed around, get treatments we don’t need and don’t want, pay for it, and be treated like in a concentration camp. No thank you! And they can quote their corrupt ADA “guidelines” I don’t care.
A lot of dentists out there need a reality check: Hey open the yellow book, there are hundreds of dentists out there in every major city. No one needs you! Either you listen and serve like everyone else does, or you get replaced. No one needs an Adolf in his/her life and definitely not an Adolf dentist! No one wants higher cancer risks in exchange for x-rays showing your teeth are OK.
I sincerely hope this post will encourage you to keep looking for a good dentist who treats you with respect!
Update Nov 2017
I receive emails at least once a week with calls for help! I still recommend doing what I wrote above:
A. Leave your current dentist. There is no point wasting your energy and time. It’s like trying to make a donkey dance.
B. Go to the Holistic Dental Association’s website and look for the member directory
C. Start emailing and tell them what you want
D. Wait and you will likely get a positive answer, eventually.
E. Consider ditching your dental insurance. It’s financing these and many more scams.
Karl Marx would have summarized the action plan like this: Dental Patients of the World….UNITE!. I don’t like the term patient. We are cash customers and not necessarily ill ;-). My slogan would be: “Dentist Customers of the world….UNITE!”
Also I found an interesting article in Reader’s Digest, available here: https://www.dentistat.com/ReaderDigestArticle.pdf
Update Nov 2021
Many moons passed since I wrote this article and I still receive frequent emails with questions. This topic is hotter than ever and there is no improvement in sight.
The first question I want to address is whether there is an email template you could use. Below is the email I used with great success:
I have a question before setting up an appointment and found your contact details on the Holistic Dental Association's website.
As crazy as it may sound, I recently moved to the US and have trouble finding a "compatible dentist".
Abroad no one ever asked me for an x-ray, except when I had to take out my wisdom teeth, which I gladly accepted.
I have religious objections against x-rays and would only consent to them if an emergency requires them.
I understand the common procedures here are different and I'm happy to sign a waiver form and work without insurance.
My general health and that of my teeth is relatively good. At this point all I need (and my wife and children) is a visual inspection. We are well aware of the fact that visual inspections may miss issues and are fine with that idea, and lived with this type of "risk" our whole life.
Would that be OK with the doctor?
Feel free to use it!
The second question I receive frequently is which dentist I recommend? I recommend this dentist, they work in Bowie, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and Annapolis, MD. My family has been going there since 2015 and we’re very happy. I recommend them because of many reasons, please click on the link to see the details.
Beware of “Fake” Holistic Dentists
Another theme I noticed from my interactions with my readers and others who happen to talk to me about dentists (a favorite conversational topic (^_^)) is that there are a number of fake holistic dentists out there, so watch out. They use the label “holistic” and then still coerce you to take semiyearly x-rays and ‘pump’ chemicals into you like there is no tomorrow. I guess the meaning of ‘holistic’ is kind of loose and not precisely defined. It would make sense to check them out for a ‘cleaning’, and test the waters first before going for major dental work.
You could also test their reaction to gauge where they stand and how open-minded they really are. Simply tell them you don’t use fluoride, not in your water, not in your toothpaste, (even if it’s not true) and watch their body language and reaction. If you receive a look like “you are the dumbest s**t walking on earth”, as I did in several offices, you’ll know who and what you are dealing with…
Share Your Story: How Are you Being Treated at the Dentist Office?
Please use the comment section below to share your story, ideas, comments, how you feel about dental x-rays, and how you are being treated by dentists.