The UAE performs random inspections for fraud, waste and abuse, however, service pricing is not being regulated. Dentists are warning of a growing culture of “over-treatment” in some clinics. UAE residents should increase their awareness and take precautions when visiting dental clinics.
The Dubai Health Authority recently handed out 25 fines for fraud, waste and abuse cases.
Dentists posing as patients participated in a mystery shopping exercise where they visited fifteen clinics in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The mystery shoppers were to assess how common over-treatment is in the industry.
They exposed many cases of how expensive and pointless dental treatments were being offered to patients to boost profits.
Dr Nasser Fouda, who has been in the UAE since 1996, said: “a common trend is dentists viewing their practice as more of a business than providing healthcare.”
“Many dentists call people clients, rather than patients and want to make money – they are more like teeth mechanics, and are happy to drill, screw or carry out a root canal,” he said.
“Patients may go in for a simple filling, and end up with a crown – that’s not always the best option.
“Dentistry teams often want to do everything themselves, rather than call in specialists to maximise their profits. This is not always the best option.
“It’s preferable to preserve natural teeth for as long as possible, as the structure is much better and artificial products will never be as good as enamel and dentine.”
Offers and promotions
There have also been many cases of unauthorized offers and promotions being done by dental clinics that went under the radar.
In one case, a dental clinic in Dubai is facing legal action after organizing a “prize giveaway”.
This brought a lot of attention to the giveaway after an unexpected number of people showed up and ended up causing a traffic jam and blocking a part of Al Wasl Road.
After the clinic and its giveaway were inspected, it turns out that the clinic was violating regulations by carrying out a marketing and promotional campaign without getting approval from the authority’s Health Regulation Sector.
The first step to protecting yourself from such practices is to be aware that they exist, and maybe more common than you think.
Keep into consideration, when you visit a dental clinic that you do not trust, to always properly analyze anything being offered to you.
Sometimes your teeth can be fixed by some form of whitening or treatment, but you may be offered a very expensive “Hollywood Smile” package, which is great, but may not be necessary for your case.
Get a second opinion
It’s always a good idea to get another consultation for a second opinion, especially when the dentist is recommending a procedure such as Root Canal, which is a very expensive procedure.
Sometimes it’s not about money, but the procedure could be harmful to you in the long run. Many dentists recommend patients avoid root canal until absolutely necessary, while some even don’t believe in the procedure and suggest to avoid it at all costs.
Getting a consultation with another doctor from a different clinic would help you get a professional opinion of a different medical perspective and also save your teeth incase the initial doctor made a mistake. It would also save you from fraud or over-treatment attempt.
It may be tricky to find a good and trustworthy dental clinic for a consultation or second opinion, but some clinics such as GMCClinics, for example, offers the ability to browse its range of clinics and doctors and book appointments online. If you’re looking for a dental clinic in Dubai you could drop by their website.
Do your research
It’s true that you’re not a doctor, but you could still do some online research about your problem.
There’s a range of medical websites online that help simplify information for the common person, and you could also read the latest news and research about dental procedures and kind of get a clearer idea whether they are necessary for you or not.
It’s also important to ask friends or family members who faced a similar problem as you, who could perhaps enlighten you with their experiences and help you avoid their mistakes.
There are also several discussion groups online in the UAE that discuss these topics and people share their dental experiences in terms of what procedures they made, how much they paid, and which doctors to go to.