Can you help me? I wanted to get my teeth fixed. I was specifically interested in my front four teeth which are misaligned, crowded, and discolored. At the appointment, he informed me that doing porcelain veneers on those teeth can fix all of those problems at once. I was thrilled and scheduled the procedure. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. The porcelain veneers are too short and have a gap at the gumline, the teeth still show their misalignment, plus he told me he reshaped the lower teeth, which we never even discussed. In total, including the reshaping, I was billed $9,000 but feel like my smile is worse than ever. I asked him how we could get the results he promised me and now he says that it would take four porcelain crowns. Of course, at an additional charge. I went to see another dentist out of frustration and he told me I could have gotten the promised results with just the porcelain veneers. Is there a way for me to get this fixed or get my money back (hopefully both)?
I hate hearing stories like this. While most dentists are ethical, this one certainly has not behaved in his patient’s best interest. In most cases, you cannot get a refund simply because the smile makeover is not attractive. However, you have a couple of things working in your favor. First, he did a procedure on your lower teeth without your approval or even a discussion. That is unethical. Second, he told you he’d get a result that he did not. Your teeth are still misaligned.
I would approach him and just gently bring up these points and ask for a refund. My suspicion is he will say no. Some dentists worry because refunds go on their record at the National Practitioner Data Bank. You can give him an out on this by telling him that you are willing to keep the request for the refund oral and if he pays you himself, instead of through his insurance company it will not have to go on his record.
If he still doesn’t budge, let him know that you are left with three options. First, you will be leaving an online review letting potential patients know what it was like being “cared for” by him. Second, you will be going to the dental board. Third, if he still won’t resolve the issue, that you will be seeing a lawyer.
For all of this, it is helpful to have another cosmetic dentist on your side. You mentioned the dentist earlier who confirmed you could get the right results with porcelain veneers. While he is correct, I want to make sure he is a skilled enough cosmetic dentist to give you beautiful results.
Not many patients are aware that doing smile makeovers is not taught in dental school. A dentist has to invest in post-doctoral training in order to develop the skills and artistry required to do this well. In your place, I would either look for an AACD accredited dentist or one who is recommended on the mynewsmile.com website. These dentists have been examined and proven for both artistry and technical skill.
This blog is brought to you by La Jolla Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Stephen Doan.