Mother questions dentist's decision to cap, fill more than a dozen baby teeth

Posted at 8:31 PM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-16 21:31:28-05

BROKEN ARROW - A Broken Arrow mother reached out to 2 Works for You after a popular Broken Arrow dental practice presented her with an estimate for more than $5,000 to fix her toddler's baby teeth.

Sarah Powell said she felt like she had failed her three-year-old son, Jaxon, when a dental practice told her he had 13 cavities in his temporary baby teeth.

"I was mortified," Powell said, "I couldn't fathom how he could have that many issues and no pain."

Powell said the dental assistant at Super Smiles Dental Office in Broken Arrow rattled off a list of work Jaxon needed and numbers Powell needed to call, then stopped and said, "Oh, you have private insurance. This is going to be expensive," according to Powell.

Because Powell said she had been regularly brushing Jaxon's teeth since they popped up, and that she took him for regular check-ups since he was 18 months old, she sensed something had to be wrong.

She took Jaxon to a second dentist, who recommended a more conservative treatment plan.

"When we saw the pictures of the cavities, they weren't even to the nerve," Powell said, "and they wanted to do root canals on teeth that didn't even have a cavity!"

The dentist who gave Powell the second opinion would not go on camera, but told 2 Works for You the Super Smiles estimate, which included caps and fillings on 13 teeth and multiple root canals, was excessive and unnecessary. He wound up filling five cavities at an out-of-pocket cost of just over $500.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says it's important to treat baby teeth rather than pull them, because they serve as a place holder for permanent teeth as a child grows. They say temporary baby teeth also play an important role in speech development and nutrition. Dental experts say it's best to keep baby teeth until they're ready to fall out on their own.

Super Smiles told us they could not discuss patients specifically, but officer manager Christy Reece sent us this statement:

"[W]e strive to provide the best possible care to our patients. No charges are made for the preparation of treatment plans. Those plans are intended to cover a variety of treatment options and also include 'worst case' treatment/financial projections to allow parents to make informed consent treatment decisions. The charges incurred are also dependent on the care that is actually required as the treatment is rendered and treatment needs are evaluated on an ongoing basis. The charges incurred may in many instances be less than is reflected on the treatment plan. Also, there may be variances in the treatment plan based on the wishes of the patient’s parents and the circumstances of a particular case. Our treatment plans are consistent with the standard of care required and our fees are competitive with other providers. It is our goal to help children to the best of our ability. We are locally owned and have been acknowledged for our service to the community. We regret that any parent may be dissatisfied and have taken steps to ensure improved communication on these matters."

The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry also would not comment on camera, but told us they recommend parents get second and third opinions when dental procedures are recommended. A source with the board told us they have received several complaints of dentists in the Tulsa area performing procedures their patients didn't need.

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Unit has prosecuted dentists for everything from overcharging for procedures to billing patients for procedures they didn't perform. A spokesperson for the AG's office told 2 Works for You they are actively investigating three Tulsa dentists for Medicaid fraud.

If you have concerns your dentist is overcharging you or charging you for services you don't need, you can file an online complaint here


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