In our general dentists article, you will find ratings of Bay Area
general dentists based on surveys of area consumers (primarily CHECKBOOK
and Consumer Reports subscribers). For this article, we surveyed area dentists
for their recommendations to identify top dental specialists.
We asked almost all actively practicing dentists in the Bay Area to name
one or two specialists in six specialty fields they would consider most
desirable for care of a loved one. The list of top dental specialists
includes the specialists named most often and how often each was mentioned.
You can see informal comments from patients on area dental specialists
by clicking on the names of dentists who appear on our lists.
You can use our list of top dental specialists to help you choose a
specialist. If you have a general dentist you trust, that dentist will
appropriately be your first source of referrals for specialists. But it
makes sense to discuss your dentists recommendations. You can ask about
the specialists on our list. Your dentist might not know, or have thought
about, some of the options you suggestor might not shoot as high on the
quality scale without your prodding.
If a dentist recommends any kind of major treatment, get a second opinion.
Find out whether you need any treatment at all, treatment options, and
what results you should expect. Our list of outstanding specialists should
be a helpful source for second opinions. If the dentist who recommends
the treatment plans to do the work, you definitely need a second opinion
from a completely independent dentist.
If you are thinking about buying a prepaid dental insurance plan, you can
use this guide to size up the quality of dentists in plans provider directories.
Its a good sign if they include even a few of the dental specialists listed
in this article.
Whatever dentist you choose, make sure you play a key role in ensuring
that you get the best possible care. Before a dental visit, get ready by
writing down your questions and other information to be sure you dont
forget to mention something. Describe in detail any problems or symptoms:
when you first noticed the problem, when it hurts, what it feels like.
If the dentist seems to be rushing you through your list of items, insist
that you be given enough time to discuss these important matters.
If the dentist recommends costly dental care, request a written treatment
plan and information on costs in advance. Ask for a detailed description
of any problems the dentist identifies, alternative treatment plans, risks,
and costs. Before agreeing to any treatment, get a clear explanation of
what results you can expect.
To make sure you dont pay too much, find out what other dentists charge
for the same treatment. When choosing service providers, especially health
care providers, you probably care most about service quality. But for many
patients, especially those without dental insurance, cost also matters.
In fact, even for common procedures by the outstanding dentists on our
list, patients can save hundredsand sometimes thousandsof dollars by
using a lower cost provider. The lesson: You dont have to compromise quality
to save money.
Our researchers, without revealing their affiliation with CHECKBOOK, called
a sample of dentists and obtained prices for several common procedures.
For surgical placement of one endosteal implant body, including sedation
and x-rays, our shoppers were quoted prices ranging from $1,870 to $3,855not
including fabrication and placement of the crown, which would add $890
to $2,323 depending on the dentist. Prices for a full set of characterized
upper and lower dentures made with Lucitone acrylic base and IPN teeth
ranged from $2,551 to $8,987. For periodontal scaling and root planing
of upper gums, prices ranged from $550 to $1,174. Need a root canal? You
can pay between $580 and $1,337, depending on the dentist.
|Full set (upper and lower) of characterized dentures made with Lucitone acrylic base and IPN teeth
|Simple single root canal on an adult premolar, excluding any restorative work
|Remove four impacted wisdom teeth (soft-tissue removal) including IV conscious sedation and x-rays
|Surgically place one endosteal implant body for #19 molar, including IV conscious sedation and x-rays
|Periodontal scaling and root planing of upper gums
|Gingivectomy of upper and lower gums
|Periodic periodontal exam and maintenance for an established patient
|Fabricate and install one crown (porcelain fused to high noble metal) for an adult molar
|Comprehensive oral exam for a new child patient(10 years old), including cleaning
The only way to make sure you dont pay too much is to do research. Collecting
just a few more prices can pay off big time. Dentists should not make it
uncomfortable for you to discuss costs and should be willing to work out
payment plans or alternative treatments if the costs exceed your means.
Fortunately, its not too painful to compare prices for many procedures,
so long as you know the specifics about the care you need. A detailed written
treatment plan from a dentist will help you to specify for other dentists
what you need. Be sure to nail down enough details so you compare apples
Is a separate office visit and exam required before the procedure? If so,
is the cost of that office visit included in the price of the procedure?
Are x-rays required? If so, is the cost included in the quoted price? Can
the specialist use recent x-rays taken by another dentist or are new ones
What are the available sedation or anesthesia options? What option does
the dentist recommend? What does each option cost?
For orthodontia, does the treatment plan include the costs of fabrication
and fitting of retainers?
Since the choice of materials for implants, bridges, and dentures can have
a large impact on price, decide on and specify materials.
Will you need follow-up care? If so, does the price include follow-up visits?
Will you need medications? If so, are those costs included? Can you save
money by obtaining medicines on your own?
Ask any dentist you pick if he or she guarantees resultsand what that
guarantee means. Will you get some or all of your money back if the results
are not as promised? Will the dentist at least try again at no charge (assuming
you are willing)?
Find out what you need to do: how to prepare before treatment, what aspects
of care you can handle on your own, and how to prevent future problems.
For some types of self-care, have the dentist demonstrate how to do it,
then let the dentist observe your technique to make sure you are doing
Our list of top dental specialists includes dentist-recommended specialists
in the following specialty fields:
Specialize in treating the pulp of teeth, including performing root canal
Specialize in surgery of the mouth and face, including removing wisdom
teeth, removing tumors, performing biopsies, and performing cosmetic face
reconstruction after trauma such as car accidents.
Specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of
malocclusion (bad bite), as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities
of developing or mature orofacial structures. Best known for performing
treatments involving braces.
Specialize in treating children from birth to 21 years of age, a period
when most dental growth occurs.
Commonly referred to as gum doctors, they specialize in the tissues that
support, attach to, and surround the teeth, and the treatment and prevention
of disease affecting these tissues, including gum surgery and sometimes
Specialize in repairing and replacing teeth and oral structures, such as
installing crowns, bridges, implants, and dentures. General dentists do
these things too, but prosthodontists often treat the more complicated