Dental Second Opinions
by Las Vegas Dentist James Polley DDS
Has your dentist recommended an invasive, expensive, or irreversible dental treatment? They’re probably right, but it’s best to get a second opinion before committing to any major dental procedure. It’s also best to seek a second opinion if your recommended treatment isn’t giving you the results you want, or if you feel your dentist neglected important symptoms in making their recommendation. Don’t worry about offending your dentist. They are a medical professional and understand that getting a second opinion is a routine part of medical practice.
The Value of a Second Opinion
Many people think the only time you need a second opinion is if you doubt the diagnosis. A second opinion has value even if it doesn’t change your diagnosis because:
- Confirming your diagnosis and seconding the treatment plan can increase your commitment to a treatment, which can improve results.
- Your doctor may explain the condition or treatment option differently or give you more information that can help you understand the condition or treatment.
- Sometimes doctors will confirm a diagnosis but offer a different treatment plan.
Even if your second dentist just confirms everything your first dentist said, a second opinion is worth it. You will have a better understanding of the treatment and can commit to it more fully.
When to Get a Second Opinion
The short answer is that you should get a second opinion any time you are considering a major dental procedure. Some examples include:
- Dental implants
- Porcelain veneers
- Root canal
- Neuromuscular dentistry or TMJ treatment
Some dentists are overly enthusiastic about some types of treatment options. They may recommend dental implants when a root canal might be better for you. Other times they may recommend treatment options with dubious value.
How to Get a Good Second Opinion
Finding a dentist to give you a second opinion can be a challenge. If you have a good relationship with your dentist, you can ask them for recommendations. Also ask friends and family if they have a dentist they like, especially if they had similar problems treated. If you don’t get recommendations, search for a dentist online.
Before getting a second opinion from a dentist, make sure:
- The second dentist has at least comparable training and experience to the first dentist in the area you’re considering
- The second dentist has attended different schools than the first dentist
- The second dentist gets good reviews from patients
Once you have found a good dentist to give your second opinion, make sure they give you a quality recommendation by:
- Bringing up important information that the first dentist mentioned but the second didn’t
- Asking about long-term effects
- Asking the second dentist why the diagnosis or recommendation is different
It’s not unreasonable to go back to your first dentist and talk about what the second dentist said.
Which Dentist Should You Work with?
If two dentists disagree, you have to decide which one you will work with. To make the decision:
- Compare before and after pictures and testimonials from each dentist
- Talk to patients of both dentists
- Make sure both treatment plans are complete as stated and don’t have additional costs or steps not listed
- Decide which dentist gives you more confidence that you will get quality results
- Never make a decision based on price alone. Your oral health is too important to risk by trying to save money, and often the less expensive procedure today will cost more overall.
If you aren’t sure you can work with either dentist, consider getting a third opinion. Your health is worth taking the time to make sure a procedure will be done right.