Tuesday, December 1, 2009

by Jack Reeves

While a New Smyrna Beach dentist was repairing some caries, we discussed teeth cleaning; a proposed treatment plan was prepared and appointment made.

Later, I noted that in addition to cleaning there were five more services for $285, which included 'intraoral complete series' (X-rays) $104.

I telephoned that I could not afford such, that I just wanted cleaning, no X-rays. I was told that Florida law requires examination and X-rays, or cleaning us prohibited. I said, "Forget it," and pressed the End button.

I called another office. "Why is it when I want my car washed, a motor diagnostic is required?" I asked in exasperation.

"It's Florida law," I was told.

I called another, one with which I'd encountered the X-ray imperative a year ago. The scheduler asked my name and accessed my record. "I see that you hung up on us," she said. Revelatory.

"As I recall, you hung up on me," I said.

It was explained to me, again, that "Florida law requires X-rays."

A few years ago, I was told similarly by a Georgia dentist: "It's Georgia law.

I handed him the bib and walked out. The Georgia Dental Association informed me there is no such law. I wrote a newspaper column about the matter.

When one thinks about it--that a law can dictate a required medical procedure--the legal unlikeliness is evident. But we don't think about it.

I contacted the Florida Dental Association (FDA) which replied: "I’m looking into getting a response for you from one of our members."

In other words, the matter baffled the FDA--or the inquiry required a reply from the higher up.

I replied that I found the answer, published last month in the Orlando Sentinel's 'Ask a Lawyer' :

"Although there is no law requiring X-rays for patients seeking a dental cleaning, a state regulation requires a dentist to conduct an oral exam within 13 months before a cleaning." Period.

Some dentists deceptively piggy-back X-rays as part of the law-specified examination. X-rays are not Florida law. But the dentist makes money by demanding them or our teeth will not be cleaned.

X-rays may be desirable, but this is not the issue--honesty.

As a senior citizen on Social Security, I suspect there are many who want to care for their teeth. Such practices deter it. They are immoral and violate the American Dental Association's code of ethics, i.e, "dentists should consider...ethical principles [and] patient's needs and interests...."

Jack Reeves, JD (Juris Doctor)
New Smyrna Beach


Anonymous said...

I am having this same problem in California. It's driving me nuts.

Anani said...

When asked by my California dentist if he could x-ray my children at 6 month intervals, I asked about medical necessity. His reply was the insurance would cover them. We found another dentist. I later found out my kids were receiving excessive amounts of x-rays. I didn't know about ADA guidelines and the difference between types of x-rays. There was a definite connection between making money and my kids getting all these x-rays. They were not cavity prone.

Something needs to be done about dentists and the overuse of x-rays.