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What to bear in mind when visiting the dentist?
Here are some tips, tricks and information for patients who are currently undergoing dental treatment or intend to have treatment with dentures or implants.
When visiting the dentist, many people are generally overwhelmed because they do not understand the technical jargon, because you are handed a cost estimate ( treatment and cost plan ) without explanation or because you cannot judge whether there are cheaper or even better alternatives to the planned dental prosthesis. A second dentist's opinion is generally helpful here, and is also recommended by the statutory health insurance funds. Since these health insurance companies only pay a fixed allowance and they don't care whether you choose an implant or a bridge, this is a very good decision-making aid.
A dentist who does not do implants but has a CEREC machine for computer-made crowns in his practice will try to sell you a crown that will give him maximum return. Here, he will not think of offering you that crown from a cheaper large laboratory or even a cheaper dental crown made abroad as he will not earn anything from it.
Further, a crown with a stainless steel base and ceramic veneer is far cheaper than an all-ceramic crown. A crown made of gold is far too expensive due to the high price of gold. In addition, only gold alloys are used which, with 2% - 75% gold content, must be hard enough to be used in the mouth. Many patients also have allergies to metal compounds such as palladium, mercury compounds, cobalt and chromium. Here it is important to arrange an allergy test before expensive dentures are fitted.
Especially in the case of private services, the dentist must enter into an agreement with the patient in advance. The patient must sign that he or she wants these additional private or hedgehog services. The decisive factor here is which billing factor the dentist chooses. It can be 1.8 times the rate, but also 10 times the rate. The bill will be correspondingly high. Hedgehog services, such as acupuncture, but also additional medical or technical services, can cost a lot of money. It is often questionable whether these additional costs bring any added value to the patient at all. A price comparison is particularly worthwhile for implants and dental prostheses. Often the planned bone augmentation or sinus lift is not even necessary. If a more modern technique or a different implant system is chosen, it may well be 2/3 cheaper.
An example for patients whose mandibular dentures fit poorly and rock. A denture with four mini implants made by 3M MDI may cost EUR 2,500 in one practice, but up to EUR 7,000 one street over. It is difficult to justify this.
A crown from a CEREC machine of a dentist can cost 350.-EUR and is billed for 850.-EUR in another district with many private patients. Mind you, from the same technical unit, with the same material and the same software.
Technical CAD/CAM solutions are increasingly taking over the work of dental technicians and dental laboratories. This should actually mean falling prices due to automation and amortisation of these machines. The opposite is the case. 3D printers are taking over the work of dental technicians, intraoral scanners are replacing expensive impression materials, high-performance milling machines are producing up to 40 individual crowns made of different materials with one milling job.
A price comparison is worthwhile in any case, because such a milling machine can be operated much cheaper in a low-wage country. However, it should be clarified in advance how long the warranty period is and where the court of jurisdiction is located, because as a patient you certainly do not want to fly to China in case of a complaint. The legal guarantee in Germany is 24 months. However, some laboratories offer extended guarantees of up to five years.
The place of manufacture must be noted on the laboratory's invoice, so please ask, so that an expensive crown does not later turn out to be a cheap Chinese product, as happened countless times a few years ago in the Globudent scandal. The dentist is obliged to provide you with a declaration of conformity according to the German Medical Devices Act together with his invoice. It must show all materials and moulded parts.
This helps immensely in case of side effects and allergies.
As you can see, with the right information you can save money without sacrificing quality. A second dentist's opinion or a detailed cost comparison helps in many cases. You should also talk to a commercial laboratory, have the proposed dental prosthesis explained to you, e.g. a prosthesis on implants, and have a master dental technician explain the advantages and disadvantages. It is also very easy to compare prices in a commercial dental laboratory. Simply compare the offer of the other laboratory or dentist. Competition stimulates business!
One last tip: You can also talk about discounts or negotiate price advantages in a dental laboratory and dental practice. Restraint or even fear of the dentist are out of place here. Also compare professional teeth cleaning, which costs between 55.- EUR and 180.- EUR, and save on preventive care as well. For new patients, such a dental cleaning is often cheaper or even free of charge to convince them of the practice's services. Friendliness and waiting times are additional arguments for choosing a dentist you can trust.
See reviews and recommendations on the internet from other patients who have already been treated there. It will help you!
So if you don't compare prices or find out about a wide variety of care, you are putting yourself in the hands of a contractor. Incidentally, this also applies to supplementary insurance for dentures or implants. Ask about waiting periods, preliminary medical examinations and scope of benefits. Otherwise, you may pay for supplementary dental insurance and receive little or no benefit from these insurers in the event of an emergency.
But never compare apples with oranges. A steel crown is always cheaper than a gold or ceramic crown. A dental prosthesis from China is always cheaper than a solution from a German master laboratory and a lousy dental cleaning (PZR) in a quarter of an hour is always cheaper than an hour of intensive dental care by a well-trained professional.