Customer survey scores reported on our tables are from our surveys of Consumer Reports and CHECKBOOK subscribers, conducted via email and regular mail.
We have included on our Ratings Tables all of the dentists for which we received at least 10 ratings on our customer surveys. If a dentist is not listed on our Ratings Tables, it simply means we did not receive at least 10 ratings for it.
Since many dentists were rated by rather small numbers of raters, small differences between two dentists in the percentage of raters who gave a particular rating (say, "superior") should be ignored. The table below gives a rough guide to minimum differences you should look for in deciding on one dentist over another.
When using these survey data, remember that the questions are to some degree subjective and that the differences among dentists might be explained by differences in the personalities, backgrounds, critical standards, and other characteristics of the raters or by biases these raters might have.
To assess dentists' fees, we sent surveys to all of the dentists who received 10 or more ratings on our surveys of consumers and asked them to provide us with their fees for several common procedures. Our Ratings Tables tell you which dentists voluntarily submitted fee information to CHECKBOOK. To see these fees, click on a dentist's name in our Ratings Tables.
We will also continue to invite dentists to submit fee information to us with the hope that many more dentists—especially the top-rated ones listed on our Ratings Tables—will supply this valuable information to their potential patients. We believe price transparency is an ethical obligation of dentists.
For a sample of dentists who did not voluntarily provide us fee information, our researchers gathered fees by calling dentists' offices (when calling, our shoppers did not reveal their affiliation with CHECKBOOK). Our Ratings Tables indicate the dentists we have collected fees for; you can see these fees by clicking on dentists' names in our Ratings Tables.
Our Ratings Tables also indicate those dentists had prices that were better than our estimate of average prices for all dentists in the area. To compare prices, we used for each dentist a weighted average that takes into account how frequently, according to Federal Government survey data, patients receive the different types of procedures and services included in our price checks. We compared each dentist's average prices to the community-wide average price we calculated based on a sample of the dentists for whom we have patient survey data—including dentists rated high by surveyed patients and dentists rated low by surveyed patients. Our Ratings Tables indicate with a checkmark those dentists with the lowest overall prices. We also indicate those dentists with below-average prices.
Keep in mind that even dentists whose average prices are below the area average may not have good prices for specific procedures you may need, so be sure to check prices with any dentist—especially for high-priced procedures. Be aware also that we have price information only for some of the dentists rated high for quality, so no doubt you could find other low-priced, high-quality dentists; they just haven't helped you by providing information on their prices for us to report.
Also keep in mind that, regardless of a dentist's charges, your cost of dental care will be high if you are over-treated. See our advice for
"Keeping Costs Down" for other strategies you can use.
All of the data must be interpreted in view of timeliness. Our customer survey data are from surveys conducted from January 2005 to August 2011. Survey respondents were asked to report on experiences in the preceding year. Our price data were collected from April to August 2011. Dentists who voluntarily provided sample fees may update or edit their fees on our site.
We give checkmarks to services that score highest on a scoring system that we devise for each service field. Our scoring systems weight the various data in our tables and text based on our subjective judgment of their importance. Since the scores are based entirely on information presented, you can apply your own subjective judgments, and decide whether you prefer providers we have not given checkmarks. Where we do not have important data on a dentist, we cannot give our checkmark.