dentist with xrays

Ivan Emashev/Shutterstock @mckenziebaker879/TikTok

‘It’s like going to a mechanic. Some are honest, some are not’: Woman says dentist lied to her about having cavities

‘Who’s lying?’


Braden Bjella


While we like to think that our doctor or dentist has our best interests at heart, that’s not always the case.

Back in 2017, a dentist in Florida was found incompetent to stand trial after patients lodged over 100 complaints against him for poor treatment. Claims against him included performing surgical procedures without anesthetic, pulling teeth unnecessarily, and “wearing scary costumes and threatening the children with statements like ‘your mom will die if you tell her what happened,’” per CBC.

This dentist is not alone in his poor practice. Last year, another dentist in Brooklyn grabbed headlines after running an alleged Medicaid scam in which he gave children pulpotomies (also known as a “baby root canal”) unnecessarily. Medicaid was then fraudulently billed for these unneeded procedures.

Now, a user on TikTok has gone viral after calling out a questionable experience they had at the dentist.

@mckenziebaker879 ?? 🦷#cavityfree #cavity #dentist #fyp #foryoupage ♬ original sound – emma

In a video with over 1.8 million views, TikTok user McKenzie Baker (@mckenziebaker879) writes, “Can someone explain why the dentist I saw in KC last week said I have two cavities so I went to a dentist in CO yesterday to get them checked out but they didn’t see any cavities even in all my X-rays.”

“Why is this a thing?” Baker asks. “Who’s lying?”

As some commenters speculated, it’s very possible that one of her dentists was lying and trying to push her into getting a procedure she did not need.

“It’s like going to a mechanic. Some are honest, some are not. And we have no way to tell,” explained a commenter.

“Some dentists just want to max your insurance,” added another.

“I worked in a dentist’s office, and when it would get slow, everyone needed root canals,” claimed a third. “That’s how it be.”

A few users shared similar stories of diagnosis discrepancies between dentists.

“Had a dentist tell me my daughter had 10 cavities. Took her to another dentist and they saw none,” recalled a user. “10 yrs later still no cavities.”

“I had a dentist tell me I had 8 cavities. I never have any. Went to another dentist and they told me I had none. Still haven’t had any,” shared a second.

“Dentist told me I needed 5 fillings so I went to a different dentist and all I needed was one partial filling,” stated an additional TikToker.

However, some users claimed that the difference in diagnosis can be explained by the two dentists’ differing care philosophies.

“Some dentists are more ‘let’s watch it’ and others are more ‘let’s take care of it before it gets worse,’” offered a user. “maybe that’s what happened.”

“The ONLY defense they have is how ‘aggressive’ they are with diagnosing. Their experience/research goes into it as well,” detailed a further TikToker.

This possible explanation is backed up by dentists working in the field.

In an article on the topic, Dr. Grace Chung writes, “Dentists can also fall on both ends of the spectrum in how they treatment plan. Some are aggressive in order to stop a problem before it begins, and some are very conservative to only treat things that are definitely a problem.”

“While neither side is incorrect, this can often be unsettling to patients when they meet two dentists that think very differently,” she continues. “For example, one dentist may decide that the small cavity in your tooth will eventually reach a point where it will hurt you, so the best course of action is to treat it now and put in a filling. Another dentist may believe that because it isn’t hurting you and it is so small, it may stay like that for a long time so it may be best to wait to fill it when it definitely needs it.”

The Daily Dot reached out to McKenzie via Instagram direct message.

Update 11:36am CT March 8: In an Instagram DM exchange with the Daily Dot, McKenzie reveals her belief that her second dentist was simply more restrained than her first.

“[The second dentist] just said she didn’t see what the first dentist saw. She seemed to have a more conservative approach than the first dentist,” she wrote.

“It’s interesting [because] the first dentist did a really quick oral exam at the end and no X-rays. The second dentist took like 5 different X-rays of my mouth and then did a thorough oral exam and still didn’t identify anything,” she continued. “The first dentist has been my dentist since childhood so I really hope they weren’t pulling one over on me, but you never know.”

As for what she’s learned from the experience, McKenzie says she didn’t realize how widespread dental disagreements are.

“After making that tiktok I realized how common this is!” she exclaimed. “I learned that cavities are more subjective than I once thought and that it never hurts to get a second opinion… Just like anything, dentistry is flawed, so it’s important to be your own advocate and trust your gut when it comes to your own health & body. And it’s a good reminder to take of your teeth [because] dental work is a pain & very expensive!”

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