11 Warning Signs of a Bad Dentist

You visit the dentist to have your oral hygiene maintained, not to have your problems created. We know how frustrating it must be to learn if you have a reputable dentist or not, so we’ve compiled a list of the eleven warning signs of a bad dentist. 

By the end of this read, you’ll be confident enough to make an informed decision on who you pick for your dental care. 

warning signs of a bad dentist
11 warning signs of a bad dentist.

Times have changed, and many health sectors are switching to online platforms. With the rise in telehealth medicine, insurance scams and offices with shady credentials are thriving. You may be surprised to learn how many dental scams are out there these days. 

#1 They Don’t Request Your Record

Any reputable dentist office should request your dental record to serve you best. Dental records are essential for gathering your care history, any treatments you’ve received, and any recommendations made by other dentists. 

If the dentist office you visit doesn’t request this record, you should be cautious of their ability to handle your case adequately. 

#2 They Don’t Perform a Pre-Screening

Your oral health is a part of your overall health, so a reputable dentist will perform a comprehensive dental exam before starting treatment. Even if this isn’t done, a good dentist will do some sort of oral cancer screening to ensure you’re getting an accurate diagnosis. 

If your dentist fails to prescreen you and instead tries to get you in the chair quickly, they could be faulty. Get a second opinion. 

family brushing teeth together
A family that brushes together, avoids stinky tooth decay together

#3 Their Tools Are Unsanitary

You don’t visit the dentist’s office under the impression that you’ll need to inspect their equipment. However, some practices make careless mistakes. 

One warning sign of a bad dentist is where they get their cleaning instruments. The dentist or their assistant should be using fresh gloves and unpackaging new equipment with each patient. With Covid-19, many dentist offices began sanitizing seats and headrests as a part of their sanitation protocol. 

Some tools will simply need to be washed throughout the day, but If you ever have any questions about an instrument’s origin, don’t be afraid to ask!

#4 They Have a Sales-Like Approach 

In many cases, dental work doesn’t need to be extensive nor expensive. Someone with average hygiene doesn’t need loads of dental work, and you should be wary if your dentist tries to tell you otherwise. 

A bad dentist will try to convince you your case is “unique,” or they’ll try to pressure you into a procedure. It seems fraudulent beyond belief, but some dentist offices will convince you of a problem that isn’t there. This would be another situation to get a second opinion. 

oral hygiene career
A dental hygiene career is rewarding and can be fun!

#5 They Have Bad Reviews

As with any new product, it’s essential to read reviews before committing. There’s a famous saying that people only complain when they’re upset, but you can gauge a lot from the reviews, even if they’re all negative. 

What do customers complain about the most? Office presentation? Unprofessional practices? Insurance scams? These are popular warning signs to look for when peeking at reviews. 

#6 Their Practice is Outdated

You may not know what updated equipment looks like in a dentist’s office, but you should take it as a warning sign if the practice is outdated. Does the equipment resemble other offices you’ve been to? 

You can ask anyone in the office what a particular tool does, and they should be able to tell you. Does the office have an official website? This is another excellent way to know if the practice is legit.

#7 Their Prices Are Unusually High

If you find your insurance doesn’t cover most of your procedures, or the prices are higher than practices in your area, it’s time to consider a new dentist. 

For example, a dental sealant may cost anywhere between $30-$70 per tooth. If your dentist’s office tries to charge you well over this threshold, this is a warning sign of a bad dentist.


#8 Your Insurance Doesn’t Cover Their Work At All

Insurance does not WANT to pay – but they will if the treatment makes sense. If they have zero coverage and you would expect to be covered – double-check what is to be done.

It is unusual for an insurance company not to recognize a diagnosis. If your dentist’s office insists you need a procedure you’ve never heard of, request the treatment to be documented in writing and take it to another office for a second opinion.

It also might help to call your insurance company and ask if the treatment goes by another name so they can properly bill you. 

plaque and stain on dirty teeth
If you don’t brush enough, you can end up with plaque and stain on the teeth.

#9 They Require Dozens of X-Rays

X-rays are very important, and there are many procedures that require x-rays. Up to date imaging is essential for quality diagnosis. But if you are having a full series of x-rays every few months over and over again – take pause.

After the x rays, are they going over their findings and explaining to you the reason for the x-ray? If not, they could just be trying to add more work to your insurance bill. Either way, it’s a money scheme, and you should take extra precautions.

#10 They Don’t Encourage Questions

A big warning sign of a bad dentist’s office is how inviting they make the patient feel. Dentist visits can be intimidating for most, and any reputable dentist should be sensitive to this. 

If your office doesn’t encourage you to ask questions or bother showing their work, then it’s time to consider a new dentist. Especially after recommending treatment or procedure, your dentist should immediately follow up with examples or some sort of proof to their diagnosis. 

Even then, if you don’t completely understand, they should be willing to work with you for as long as it takes until you do. If they try to pressure you into a procedure without evidence, take that as a sure warning sign. 

temporary crown trying in
Trying in a temporary crown. Once it is polished I use a temporary cement to glue it in place.

11) Check their registration

Dentists around the world are registered by their governments. In Australia there is a national register called AHPRA, in the US and UK there are state or national boards. You can check your dentist’s records with the authorities to make sure they have approval to practice.

It is worth taking the extra 2 minutes and looking it up!

Wrap Up

We know there can be a lot of misinformation out there about bad dentist offices. That’s why we want to provide you with accurate information. 

If you’re ever unsure about your dentist, it’s best to get a second opinion rather than trusting any old company. Your health matters. Take control of it by doing diligent research before accepting treatment from a new dentist. 

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