Oral surgeon convinced me to get unnecessary, expensive x-ray?
I need to have my wisdom teeth out, and after a standard panoramic x-ray, my dentist referred me to an oral surgeon.
There were several issues with this oral surgeon's office, but my biggest concern is that they convinced me to get an unnecessary x-ray that was $400 out-of-pocket.
After looking at my panoramic x-ray for a moment, the surgeon told me that one of my wisdom teeth was very close to a nerve, and I needed to have a digital x-ray (I think it was a CT scan) so he could better see the placement of the nerve. Then he quickly left, and a nurse came in and basically told me, "The doctor wants you to have this x-ray. It's $400. Insurance won't cover it. Do you want it? ...Well?"
Even in the moment, I felt like I was being scammed, but I also felt extremely trapped. They rushed me into making this decision IMMEDIATELY. I opted for the x-ray, but I wish I had refused. I'm sure the extra radiation is something I didn't need. (While the $400 is something I definitely do need.) The x-ray machine was in the office's BREAK ROOM, where I was surrounded by purses and lunches--it was all very odd
Aside from a Yelp review warning other people that they might try to pressure potential patients into expensive extras, do I have any sort of recourse? Or is this type of x-ray and cost typical with a wisdom teeth removal consultation?
That's hard to say. It depends on the situation and how close that tooth is to the nerve. Sometimes on a panoramic x-ray, the tooth will appear to be close to the nerve. Since the panoramic x-ray is two dimensions, it doesn't provide as much information as a CT scan which can be view in 3D on a computer screen. That would help the doctor determine where the tooth is more precisely. So while it does help, I can't say for sure whether or not it was necessary because its a judgement call from the doctor on how comfortable he feels reading the 2D picture and being able to remove the wisdom teeth. There is a risk of nerve damage from wisdom teeth extractions.
If you want to feel better about the decision, there are 5 major nerves that are around the wisdom teeth. Damaging these nerves can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, drooling, and speech problems that can last a lifetime. This was after you were already referred to a surgeon, and were told that it was close to a nerve.
It was probably a CT like you said, the price is right and the surgeon would be able to see the nerve. They would not be able to with an xray. Digital xray would just mean that the xray is retrieved and stored in digital format and stored on a computer and not a physical film, different from CT.
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