Safety at the Dental Office Just Got a Lot More Complicated

Mad Cow Concerns over Root Canal Tools

Dentists in the UK and across the globe were shaken recently when Britain’s Minister of Health announced its official recommendation that root canal tools not be reused. The concern is vCJD – also known as “mad cow disease” – which is transmitted via prions in the brain. Though a case has never been documented, endodontic work could leave patients vulnerable to infection with the deadly disease. Contaminated tools can never be cleaned, as prions are resistant to heat and disinfectants. In response to the new recommendations, at least one dental supplier has significantly lowered the prices of its single-use endodontic tools.

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Root Canal Cost: $1,000 per Molar

cost of root canal therapyThis survey found the average root canal fee is $740 for a front tooth and $1,000 for a molar, with three out of four dentists saying they perform posterior root canals.

“Root canals are the most predictable and profitable procedure in dentistry,” said one. “Dentists who do not do endodontics lose on the average $90,000.”

Cost of root canal therapyRoot canal therapy costs somewhat more from endodontists than from general dentists, especially on posterior teeth. Of course, an endodontist is will perform a difficult root canal, while a general dentist might refer out that endodontic procedure.

How much a root canal costs depends on where you live; dentists in the Pacific states reported charging the most.

In fact, a simple root canal on a front tooth may cost more in the Pacific than a more difficult molar root canal in many other areas, including the Northeast.root canal fees

Here are some dentist comment about root canals:

  • “I’ve been a DDS full time for 25 years and I have not done a root canal in over 14 years… I have never been happier than since I was told by a dental consultant: what would you rather do on a Saturday morning, play golf or do a root canal?” (Utah dentist)
  • “More GPs should do their own endo.” (Florida dentist)
  • “Root canal therapy is a big money maker. It’s a great way to beef up the bottom line.” (California dentist)
  • “Root canals are the most predictable and profitable procedure in dentistry. Dentists who do not do endo lose on the average $90,000.” (Virginia dentist)
  • “Your fee should represent what it would cost to replace the tooth if it were lost.” (Maryland dentist)
  • “Natural teeth are better than fake ones (dentures or implants).” (West Virginia endodontist)

Read more: How Much Root Canals Cost from Dentists and Endodontists

Root Canal Dentist Uses Paper Clips in Surgery

Root canals with paper clipsA Massachusetts dentist accused of using paper clips in root canal procedures has been indicted on 13 charges.

The dentist pinched pennies by using pieces of paper clips instead of stainless steel posts – though that didn’t stop him from billing Medicaid for the more expensive materials he didn’t bother to use.

The charges against him include assault and battery, larceny, submitting false Medicaid claims (using other doctors’ provider numbers), and illegally prescribing drugs (Hydrocodone, Combunox and Percocet).

Between 2003 and 2005, he is estimated to have submitted at least $130,000 in fraudulent Medicaid bills. But it’s his use of office supplies in root canal therapy that’s garnered the most attention. (This root canal treatment is definitely not endodontist-approved!) In fact, some of his root canal patients still have paper clips in their mouths.

Read more about how NOT to cure root canal pain: Charge: Paper clips used in root canals

Dentist Referrals: Dental Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry & Braces

Dentist Referrals: Dental Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry & BracesDentists tend to restore dental implants but refer out dental implant surgery, this survey found.

The average dentist often refers out braces, sedation dentistry, and root canals, while keeping cosmetic dentistry, and denture patients.

Related Story: Dentists: What procedures do you refer out?

When it comes to pediatric dentistry and gum disease, dentists refer some patients out and treat others in house.

Related Story: How Dentists Refer Wisdom Teeth Cases to Oral Surgeons

Overall, the average dentist refers out less than 20% of patients.

Related Story: Root Canal Referrals: Dentists vs. Endodontists

Here are some dentist comments on referring patients:

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Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root Canals

Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root CanalsPaper clips for dental patient root canals and Hydrocone for the dental staff — does this sound like a normal dental practice to you?

It doesn’t to Maryland Superior Court Judge Richard Moses, who is scheduled to sentence former dentist Michael Clair on one count of tampering with evidence, one count of witness intimidation, two counts of assault and battery, three counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, three counts of larceny, and five counts of Medicaid fraud.

Sounds like the legal system is having a good time working Dr. Clair over. But was it deserved . . . absolutely!

Dr. Michael Clair fraudulently billed Medicaid for $130,000 between August 2003 and June 2005. At that time he was licensed to practice dentistry, but had been prohibited from doing work on Medicaid patients. Investigators allege Clair performed the work and then had other dentists in the practice submit bills to Medicaid.

The investigation also charged that Clair twice used paper clips rather than the more expensive stainless steel posts to strengthen teeth given a root canal. Investigators also charged Clair with prescribing Hydrocodone, Combunox and Percocet to staff members, who in turn gave some of the medicine back to him.

Clair has admitted guilty to all the charges.

Read more: Fall River dentist who used paper clips pleads guilty before trial

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