Ways to Deal with a Bad Dentist

Learn the steps to get your issues resolved fairly.

By Insurance Industry Expert & Author
Updated on

The majority of Americans are satisfied with their dentists but, on occasion, a dental service may be performed in a substandard way or treatment was given when it was not justified by the patient's oral health. While many people in this situation feel that they have no means of remedy, the reality is that there are steps to be taken to correct the error and possibly recover money spent on poor dental care.

Step One: Discuss the Issue with Your Dentist

It may seem counterintuitive but the first step in addressing your issue is talking with your dentist about the problem. It's best to write down all the details of the issue before the discussion so you have documentation as well as an opportunity to organize your thoughts into a clear and coherent presentation.

Don't delay the discussion with the dentist. If you find yourself in a position where you want to pursue a professional complaint, you do not want to have waited past the point of acceptable grievance filing.

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The discussion with the dentist may have one of several results such as:

  • An offer to fix the problem
  • An explanation of how the issue does not represent a dental error
  • A return of money spent on the procedure

If the discussion is unsuccessful and you are convinced that you have suffered poor quality dental work, you

Step Two: File a Formal Complaint

Your state dental society has a process for filing a complaint and requesting a peer review. Normally you can find your state's dental society online by searching your state's name plus the phrase "dental association" (e.g. California Dental Association, North Carolina Dental Association).

You can also explore whether your state government's Department of Insurance or state dental board has a process for filing dental complaints.

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Step Three: Decide If You Need to Talk to a Lawyer

If the injury you suffered from a dentist's care caused considerable ongoing problems (e.g. pain, permanent tooth damage, problems eating) or will cost thousands upon thousands to remedy, you should consider hiring a lawyer. However, there is always a chance you will lose a legal action and lawyers can be quite expensive.

Many lawyers will offer to take your case even if they have no experience with this type of litigation. When choosing a lawyer, look for prior experience in medical malpractice cases as well as personal recommendations from people you trust.

Step Four: Change Dentists

It goes without saying that you should not continue patronizing a dentist with whom you've had a problem. If your insurance plan's network only has this dentist locally, consider switching dental plans with a wider network of dental professionals from which to choose. To see options available in your region, go to our home page and compare dental insurance plans. You may benefit also from our guidance on how to pick a dentist.

Need help choosing a plan? Call us at 800-296-3800

Our knowledgeable customer service team will assist you with any questions you may have prior to enrolling in a dental plan. They can guide you through the process of choosing coverage that matches your needs as well as your budget.

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