LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — A Lake County woman claims a major dental chain wanted to collect a few thousand dollars for some treatments she didn't need.
Action 9's Todd Ulrich found many other consumers have claimed the company's offer for a free exam can really end up costing them.
Cheryl Gifford had a cracked tooth and expected to pay something at the Aspen Dental clinic in Mt. Dora.
Gifford said she was blown away when the dentist handed her a $3,700 treatment plan to fix her tooth and treat gum disease. She claims the clinic wanted to get her signed up that day.
"And then it was like, 'You really need to get this done now,'" Gifford said.
Gifford said she questioned all the periodontal work since she routinely had her teeth cleaned. After insurance, she would have owed $1,800 and told the clinic she couldn't afford it.
According to Gifford, the clinic said it could all be financed.
"They had a finance program they could put me into and I could get signed up right now," she said.
Aspen Dental is a nationwide chain with 340 offices and also has 935 complaints at the Better Business Bureau. Nine of those complaints came from local patients.
Many complaints involved services, billing practices and patients who claimed the treatment plan was not clear.
Action 9 sent a WFTV employee to Aspen Dental in Mt. Dora for its advertised free consultation.Our dental expert had found she had healthy teeth and gums, except for a wisdom teeth issue.
At Aspen's clinic, the dentist told our employee, Chantal Lamberth, she needed two cavities filled and a cleaning that totaled $665.
After discounts, she would have owed nearly $400, but that's not all: Lamberth said the clinic wanted to do more treatment, soon.
"They put me on filling watch, because in six months, there were two more teeth that would need to be filled," she said.
According to Lamberth, a dental hygienist at the clinic said she didn't need a cleaning but since her form showed it was a year since her last cleaning, the dentist recommended it.
Action 9's expert was former Orange County Dental Society Chairman Dr. Brian Coleman. He told Action 9 Lamberth didn't have any decay that needed to be treated, and filling any teeth was not necessary.
In a statement to Action 9, Aspen said its clinics had excellent patient satisfaction scores that are tracked daily and the local offices have treated thousands of patients.
Aspen also said competing dentists may have different opinions but its doctors recommend what is right for the patient. The company said it is working with the Better Business Bureau to improve responses to the complaints that are filed and it had a B-plus rating at the BBB.
Gibbons turned down Aspen's treatment plan and said and her new dentist found the gum procedures were not necessary.
"I'm just glad I said no," she said.
Aspen had been sued by the state of Pennsylvania over its treatment plans. The company settled a lawsuit with the Pennsylvania state attorney general in 2010 and agreed to disclose all treatment fees and interest rates.