Choose a low cost smile? the case of Ornella

Nowadays we often talk about low-cost centers and low-cost dental care that are apparently able to guarantee excellent results, making the patient save a lot of money. Two birds with one stone!

In the reality, these centres invest a lot in advertising and marketing actions to attract customers by highlighting prices. These are chains of dentists made up of very different realities: cooperatives, corporations, franchises and so on, which have in common a sign, a website, a toll-free number to book an appointment and a flexibility of schedules and days often much broader than traditional studies.

By turning to these centres, can patients really feel safe? And what is the quality and professionalism they can offer?

Today I will report on Ornella’s case study and her experience in low-cost dental facilities.

Ornella is a 60-year-old lady who relied on low-cost centers, ending up visiting 13 of them, belonging to the 11 most popular chains. First of all she went to a team of private specialists to get a treatment plan and an estimate. The most evident problem of Ornella was the lack of 4 teeth in the upper right arch, but the team of specialists pointed out that the entire mouth needed treatment and that the treatment plan would have to be more complete in order to have an optimal and lasting result. In particular, it was absolutely necessary to intervene to fix several damages of her entire oral cavity: cavities, untreated bridges, poor hygiene and so on.

Ornella decided to try the low-cost clinics and that’s exactely what happened to her during the several visits to these centers:

  • Ornella was almost always welcomed by a dental assistant or commercial who carried out the anamnesis and never left her, even during the visit with the dentist. On the contrary, during the visit with the team of specialists, the patient spoke about the treatment plan exclusively with the doctors and not with the dental assistant!
  • The quote, unlike what usually happens in specialized private practices, was calculated and delivered by the assistant and not by the dentist.
  • The dentist almost always presented himself orally and Ornella rarely saw the names of dentists working in the center. In other cases, only the name of the director of the clinic was shown.
  • In 6 cases out of 13 the estimate was signed directly by the commercial assistant, while in other cases only the name of the director appeared on it. Within the quotation document they placed more emphasis on the commercial sign than the dentist. As a matter of fact, there was no certainty of being always followed by the same professional, which is a very important aspect of the treatment..
  • In 8 cases out of 10 the visit was not accurate: the dentist, after looking at the OPT, checked the mobility of the teeth with his hands without ever using either a mirror or a probe, tools that guarantee a complete visit and that allow to identify any precancerous lesions.
  • Almost all the treatment plans proposed by the clinics focused on restoring missing teeth with implants and crowns, without however considering the rehabilitation of the patient’s oral health. They proposed the most immediate, fast and simple solution.

Has Ornella received adequate care and obtained effective savings?

The prerequisite for any type of operation is the restoration of the health of the gums and a greater care in hygiene; the treatment plan must therefore foresee the care of the mouth in its entirety, it cannot be limited only to the care of missing teeth as instead it was proposed to Ornella in low cost centres. 

The treatment plan proposed by all the centres seems to be cheaper and less invasive than the one recommended by the team of private specialists who initially visited Ornella; the reasons are obvious: a lack of professionalism and quality.

The success of dental implants is in fact strongly linked to oral hygiene and oral health; they are factors that couldn’t exist separately. 

Ultimately, therefore, low-cost centers such as Dentalcoop, Vitaldent, Amico Dentista do not have much lower prices than a traditional dental practice.

For an implant the price varies from € 500 to € 1350 and, considering that at low-cost clinics the lowest rate is almost never applied, the final price is not much lower than the one paid in private studios which are usually between € 600 and € 2300.

What is the right price for professionalism?