Save on dental care, procedures you might not need

Yes, regular visits to the dentist are important for oral health, but the visit can be stressful, and quite expensive — especially if it’s for something other than a cleaning and a checkup.

The last thing you want to hear while sitting in the dentist’s chair is that you’ll need a filling, a crown, or a root canal. But do you always need every procedure that’s recommended?

“There’s a lot of gray area in dentistry, and there’s not always one right answer for a given problem. Some dentists may pressure their patients to get more expensive treatments. That’s why it can be wise to get a second opinion,” said Catherine Roberts with Consumer Reports.

RELATED: Doctors performed tens of thousands of unnecessary procedures in 2020, report finds

In fact, only 27 percent of people have ever gotten a second opinion on a recommended dental treatment or procedure, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey.

Consumer Reports sought the advice of dentists to find out what you should do if you’re told you need a common procedure.

CONSUMER REPORTS: Read this before your next trip to the dentist

Take a routine procedure like a filling. Replacing or repairing a filling can be important when they’re damaged but be wary if your dentist recommends replacing them simply because they’re old.

“Age alone should not be the only reason for new fillings. So, push back if your dentist recommends replacing your fillings just because they’re old,” Roberts said.

If your dentist recommends a root canal, make sure they perform the adequate testing, which may include X-rays and a sensitivity test.

If your dentist recommends pulling a tooth, Roberts says to consider asking if there are other ways to extend the life of the tooth because an implant can cost you thousands of dollars.

“A tooth extraction is generally the last step for a damaged tooth. So, if your dentist recommends an extraction ask them to explain why, and consider getting a second opinion,” she said.

To find a dentist for a second opinion, Consumer Reports recommends asking friends and family, or searching on the American Dental Association’s site. And be sure to ask for your

records including X-rays to give to the second dentist.

And, when you do ask for your second opinion, don’t explain what the first opinion was — so the new dentist can examine you without any preconceived notions.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2022 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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