If you have dental health problems that require major/minor dental work, you may benefit from a 2nd opinion. Here’s where to turn — and what to ask.
If your dentist informs you that you need to have a lot of dental work but you’re not sure or if it’s even necessary. What should you do?
If you feel like you want a second opinion about a dental health concern, it probably means you should get one. You’re never wrong in seeking a second opinion.
There is no easy answer about which dental procedures shouldn’t be done without a second opinion, but it isn’t necessary to have multiple dentists look at every little cavity or other minor dental health problem. Most dentists won’t charge for a 2nd opinion or a consult.
When to Get a Second Opinion
You should consider having second dental health professional weigh in on your dental health concerns if:
- Your dentist has diagnosed a major problem, such as oral cancer.
- You have had dental work that is not fixing your problem.
- You are unsure if the recommended treatment is necessary, or you’re concerned about the costs.
- You feel that your dentist is not qualified to treat your dental health problem.
- You don’t have good rapport with your current dentist.
The Benefits of Getting a Second Opinion for Dental Work
All dentists have unique backgrounds, because they were trained differently or because they have seen different sets of dental health problems in their practice. Multiple perspectives can help you make an informed decision about treatment.
Another reason you may want to seek a second opinion is if you need to see a specialist. Some dentists specialize in certain conditions or aspects of dental health and seeing a specialist in addition to your general dentist may be a wise decision— the specialist will have more experience in diagnosing and treating problems like yours.
Where to Go and What You Should Ask
There are several ways you can find another dentist to assess your problem:
- Ask your primary dentist. If you have a good relationship with your current dentist, ask him/her for a referral to another dentist for a second opinion. We’ve had referrals from other dentists whom patients feel they can turn to for a second opinion.”
- Ask loved ones. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your current dentist about your concerns, ask friends or family to recommend a dentist.
- A local or national dental society may be able to provide a referral for a second opinion consultation.
Once you find a second dentist, consider asking these questions:
- Do you agree with the diagnosis my dentist has made?
- What treatment options do I have for my problem?
- How much will each option cost me?
- How will each treatment option improve my dental health?
- What will happen if the problem is not treated?
- What are the risks of each treatment option?
- How long will the treatment benefits last? Will I need future treatments?
- Do they have a portfolio on similar work they have done on their own patients?
Weighing Your Dental Treatment Options
Keep in mind the different perspectives of your care providers as you weigh your options. Your current dentist has the advantage of familiarity with your dental health history, while a new dentist may have the advantage of a fresh outlook. If the second opinion is different than the first opinion, get a third opinion.
The most important thing is to avoid making any major decisions about your dental health until you are comfortable with the care and information you have received.