Dentists in Nova Scotia are small business owners providing health services in a user-pays environment, much like other professional service providers such as eye doctors and physiotherapists.
Like any business owner, dentists must pay for the full costs of running their businesses. These costs can include everything from rent, to staff salaries, to treatment costs, to dental equipment to supplies. These costs are reflected in the fees you are charged in every dental office.
The NSDA produces a Suggested Fee Guide for dentists each year drawing upon on-going economic research. The fee guide is based on an average theoretical general dental practice in Nova Scotia. It is one tool used by dentists to help arrive at their own specific fees for service. Fees for specialists are higher – you are paying for their expertise and the higher costs associated with running their practices.
Every patient is unique – no one else has your mouth! That means your needs and the treatment you receive from your dentist is tailored to you. After your examination, you will be given a treatment plan. This is what might happen – the treatment that the dentist expects you will need. During treatment, the dentist may run into unexpected findings that result in alterations to the original plan. Sometimes, the costs of these changes is higher than that quoted and sometimes it is lower. You need to understand that this may happen. Dentists try their best to forecast your needs but sometimes you run into unexpected things. All we can do is try our best and ask you to be understanding.
Insurance companies sell plans to your employer. Your employer offers you this plan as a benefit – a bonus for all your hard work. It is the employer that purchased the plan. Some plans are better than others. These plans may be based on suggested fee guides of past years – not the current year. The plans may not cover the work that YOU need. The dentist plans your treatment based on your NEED, not on what your insurance covers. If the recommended treatment is not completed, you could lose your teeth, ultimately. Thus, it is recommended that you think of your plan as a coupon for dental treatment. Some coupons are good for some things and not for others. Some coupons cover the full cost, sometimes they only cover a portion of the cost. Either way they are a benefit to have most times.
Understand that you are in charge of your plan. You are responsible for understanding your plan. You are responsible for paying your dental bills. You are responsible for communicating with your insurance company. We will help you if you ask – but please do not be upset with us if your plan does not cover the fees or if you scheduled your appointment before your “insurance kicked in”.