Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Always trust your gut

So earlier this summer, one of my childhood fillings broke partially and I needed to get it replaced.  My wonderful dentist was on vacation, so I had to find a replacement dentist and ended up booking an appointment with one just above my gym. I was surprised to see how young she was, but she was very friendly and had immediate availability - which maybe should have been my first clue.

She took a look at my broken filling and said "Oh la la - that one is too close to the nerve and can't be replaced.  We are going to have to do either an inlay or a crown".  Given the cost of those (300€ and 1000€ respectively), and that she was pushing me to replace all of my other fillings as a preventative measure, I said "No thank you. Surely there must be other options?".  She finally said she could do a resin filling for 47€ and I said "Sold!".  I had sort of a weird feeling about it though, like I didn't really trust her to do a good job since she had been pushing so hard for the crown.  But my dentist was gone for the whole month and I was leaving for the US soon and certainly didn't want to get it done there, so we proceeded.

She started drilling....and drilling....and drilling.  I was starting to wonder if she was going to come back and say she had no choice but to do a crown, but she eventually stopped and put the resin on and I was good to go.  She warned me though that I would feel a lot of pain afterwards and maybe for a few days. And boy did I.

Unfortunately the pain has continued off and on for the past two months, but with my busy schedule, I haven't had a free day to make a dentist appointment. I finally got around to it this week, and lo and behold, that biatch left a hole in my tooth!  And because of that, a cavity had started. Great, huh?  My real dentist was shocked, and that pretty much confirmed that she did it on purpose so that when I came back saying it was still hurting, she could insist on the crown.

Apparently dental studies are now quite costly in France and many students end up taking loans, similar as in the US.  And so when they are starting out and have to repay them, they charge their patients a fortune and do all kinds of necessary procedures in order to do so.  My dentist told me of a story of one patient whose dentist had insisted she get a very costly procedure.  She didn't feel right, so she came in for a second opinion and it turns out it wasn't necessary at all. My dentist called the other dentist to find out why and his answer was "Hey, what do you expect, I have a loan to reimburse".

I don't know about you guys, but this floored me. I guess I would maybe expect this in the US, but I was naive enough to think these kinds of things didn't exist in France. So the takeaway for me is 1) avoid young dentists if you can, 2) always get a second opinion if something doesn't feel right or seems too expensive (my dentist charges 600€ for a crown instead of 1000€!), and 3) it really is worth trekking across town if you've found someone you can trust.

And maybe there should be a 4) in there saying to avoid Dr Laurène Pollak on rue Vaugirard in the 15th....



Blogger Evolutionary Revolutionary said...

I had the opposite experience last year (sorta). I went to a dentist who DIDN'T do a root canal when I needed one, instead refilling it several times until I finally went somewhere else. I had to have half my tooth drilled away! And an expensive crown to boot! THANKFULLY my dentist takes payments...

October 10, 2012 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

ugh. That sucks. I always get my teeth checked when I'm back in the US. I don't really trust dentists here.

October 10, 2012 at 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

guys, I'm scared! I have to make an appointment (its been urm, 7 years) and now I don't want to!!!

October 10, 2012 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger purejuice said...


October 11, 2012 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Yes, we just don't know, do we, and we have to trust that professionalism will show through. I've just spent $2300(NZ) on a root canal, done by a specialist. It turns out that, whilst the tooth wasn't in great shape, my intense pain was in fact due to neuralgia! I hate to think how much money I've spent on my teeth over the years, but I suppose I at least still have them!

October 11, 2012 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Sara Louise said...

I wish I had gone to your dentist. At the beginning of summer I had to get one resin filling and one crown and since my husband was in the middle of switching jobs (and insurance) insurance didn't cover it... €1100!!! There went my summer holiday!

October 11, 2012 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger The Paris Chronicles said...

Like Megan, above, I used to only do my dental work in the US, even though I had to pay full price for it. It was worth it...I have never found a dentist in France who seemed to have done any "real" studies at a legitimate institute of higher education. Would you mind emailing me via LJ the name of your real dentist, or putting the name here in comments? I'd love to find someone reputable who knows what they are doing.

October 11, 2012 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, thanks for the heads up!

I had bad experiences in the US (getting a root canal for NO REASON) but I didn't know that this ishnit went down in France!

And I just made a dentist appt the other day, and they are so busy it was hard to get one, so good! He's an older man.

But.. is was an older American man who ripped me off in the States, so I would watch out for all ages and genders! The open availability is a good point, ditto getting a 2nd opinion if told that you need a costly procedure...

October 11, 2012 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Oh wow, looks like I'm not the only one who has dealt with shady dentists!

For those who are wondering, my dentist's name is Dr Christiane Allogne, 7 Rue de Penthièvre in the 8th. Her prices are really reasonable too (maybe 28€ for a cleaning).

October 11, 2012 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Animesh said...


Thanks for the tip. I am happy to have found a nice dentist (Dr. Luigi in Versailles), who insists on saving me money :).

Hope you feel better soon.

October 11, 2012 at 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She purposely left a hole?? That's so dirty! I'm just crossing my fingers I don't need any work done between now and my next visit home (I'm still covered under my parents' insurance)!

October 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Katia said...

I can confirm that Ksam's usual dentist is awesome. And this only goes to show that the expat network of trusted medical professionals is vital!
What a terrible experience!

October 24, 2012 at 11:19 AM  

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