Of course, while unnecessary procedures are definitely an issue, there is also such a thing as getting insufficient treatment.

Back in 2012, a Louisiana oral surgeon and 26 dentists were linked to questionable billing practices by a study conducted by US Department of Health & Human Services, Deputy Inspector General for Evaluation and Inspections Suzanne Murin. The anomaly—which was most likely due to procedures that were either not actually performed or unnecessarily done—cost Medicaid a total of $12.4 million in payouts. In response, the department recommended the enhancement of the screening process for Medicaid claims.

Of course, while unnecessary procedures are definitely an issue, there is also such a thing as getting insufficient treatment. This is why Medicaid also has incentives in place to encourage patients to seek treatment and preventive care when necessary. At the end of the day, the goal is to get just the right amount of medical help based on your specific needs.

Second opinions matter

Fast forward to six years later, another case of dentists performing unnecessary dental treatments for money came up. According to a January 2018 PBS report, the DOJ called out national network of dental clinics Kool Smiles for allegedly performing various needless dental procedures on children between 2009 and 2011. Former Kool Smiles office manager Christina Bowne also revealed that the company not only pressured providers to meet financial targets, but also rewarded those that did.

This is why it is always wise to ask for a second (or even a third) opinion when your dentist recommends a procedure, especially if it is a particularly costly one, even if it falls under Medicaid coverage. The last thing you want is for you or your child to go through with the procedure only to later on realize that it was completely unnecessary. As a general rule, when in doubt, just don’t. Wait until you have enough information before making a decision.

Prevention still better than cure

Of course, it is still better to just avoid going to the dentist altogether—except for check ups and cleaning sessions—by taking the necessary steps to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It is not only cheaper, but also so much more convenient. Just be sure to eat foods that promote oral health and always follow your dentist’s advice on how to properly care of your teeth and gums and you should be fine.

All about options

Is surgery the best way to fix your problem or are there cheaper non-invasive solutions available as well? Do you really need to have your tooth pulled out or can it still be saved? These are the kinds of questions you should ask before saying yes to a dental procedure. By keeping yourself well-informed, you can effectively cut back on unnecessary dental expenses. Needless to say, the money you end up saving can then be used on preventive dental care at home.

Vigilance is key

Again, if something about your dentist feels off, then be sure to seek a second opinion and do the necessary research first. If they are too quick to suggest a particularly expensive procedure and are not open to discussing other options, then they are probably more concerned with making money off of you than providing quality care. This, of course, is your cue to get out and look for a better option.