Dear Ann Landers, If it's a slow news day and this letter appears in the paper, I would appreciate it if you would leave my name and town out of it, OK? Maybe a representative of the American Dental Association will attempt to explain how my dentist can get away with overbilling me, if asked by a voice as strong as yours. Here is my problem:
I am retired and on a fixed income. My dentist is one of the most respected men in the city. I pay my bills promptly and have never questioned his fees. I now have only six of my original teeth left. I find it outrageous that he charged me $44 to clean them, the same as if I had 32 teeth, and he didn't even do the work. His hygienist did it. She spent approximately five or six minutes on my own teeth and about 10 seconds on the bridge. Will you please tell me whether you think this is fair? -- Somewhere in Minnesota
Dear Minnesota, According to the American Dental Association, it is up to the dentist to set the fee for a prophylaxis (teeth cleaning). Some dentists charge a set amount for the entire procedure, regardless of the number of teeth. Others charge less, depending on the condition of the remaining teeth. I suggest you show this column to your dentist and see if you can reach a compromise.