Updated on February 9, 2024
5 min read

Is It Time for a Dentist Second Opinion?

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If you’ve seen the same dentist for years, you probably feel confident trusting their recommended treatment plan. However, you may want a second opinion if you just left their office with a hefty estimate for major dental work.

Second opinions are normal in healthcare, and there’s no need to feel like you’re betraying your current dentist by seeking one. Research shows that patients’ reluctance to seek second opinions often leads to more expensive (but not necessarily better) treatment.2

What is a Second Opinion in Dentistry?

A second opinion is when you consult another dentist not affiliated with your current dental office before moving forward with a treatment your original dentist recommended.

Getting a second opinion is a common practice in healthcare, including dentistry. Dentists often provide different treatment approaches at various price points. This is why getting a second opinion is a great way to make an informed decision about your oral health.

How Can a Second Opinion Benefit Your Oral Health?

Making an appointment with a second dentist can save you time, money, and pain from unnecessary procedures.

For example, if your dentist says you need a costly and extensive procedure, such as root canal treatment, it can help to get a second opinion. Root canals involve removing some tooth structure, which is often replaced with a dental crown afterward. 

If you get a second opinion from another dentist, they might propose a less invasive alternative treatment, such as a large filling. 

When Should You Seek a Second Opinion?

You should get a second opinion if you’re unsure about your dentist’s diagnosis or treatment plan. It’s your right to seek a second opinion and refuse a dental treatment you don’t feel comfortable with. 

Some red flags indicate you should get a second opinion. These include:

  • A new dentist tells you that you need a lot of cavities filled when you’ve always had good teeth in the past
  • Your dentist recommends replacing fillings just because they’re old
  • Your dentist urges treatment without explaining why it’s needed
  • The office advertises free or discounted dental services, such as exams or cleanings (these are often a way to lure you into the dentist’s chair)
  • Your dentist recommends removing all your wisdom teeth when they aren’t causing problems
  • The dental office refuses to show you your X-rays or send them to another office (X-rays are your legal property, and the dentist may charge an administration fee to have them transferred)

How Do You Request a Second Opinion?

Simply tell your dentist you want a second opinion or need time to think before agreeing to the procedure.

A good dentist won’t be insulted by your desire to get a second opinion before undergoing dental work. They should have your best interest in mind and want you to feel confident in your decision to undergo treatment. 

To find a second dentist, you can ask:

  • Friends and family
  • Your dental insurance provider
  • A local dental school

Are There Specific Dental Codes for Second Opinions?

No. If you seek a second opinion, the dental office will likely bill you or your insurance for a comprehensive oral evaluation or a limited exam, depending if your entire mouth or just a specific tooth is evaluated. This is the same code your current dental office would use for an exam.

Will Insurance Cover a Second Opinion?

Maybe. The patient is usually responsible for paying for a second opinion, but it depends on their dental insurance plan. 

Some insurance providers do offer second-opinion coverage. Contact your insurance company to determine if they’ll cover all or part of the cost.

What Should You Ask During a Second Opinion?

When you call the dental office to schedule an appointment for a second opinion, let them know the purpose of your visit. Make sure your current dentist sends your X-rays to the right office, or take them with you.

It may be helpful to bring notes on the treatment plan proposed by your current dentist. This way, you can compare it with the treatment plan proposed by the second-opinion dentist.

Questions you may want to ask the second dentist include:

  • Do you agree with the diagnosis and treatment plan from the current dentist?
  • Are there alternative treatment options I should consider?
  • What are the risks and benefits of these treatments?
  • How much do the recommended treatment options cost?
  • How much of the treatment costs will be covered by insurance?
  • Approximately how long should the dental work last before it needs to be replaced?

How to Decide Between Conflicting Dental Opinions

It’s not uncommon for one dentist’s treatment approach to differ from another’s. Don’t be surprised if the second dentist’s treatment plan is unlike your current dentist’s.

After you get a second opinion and compare notes, it’s up to you to decide which dentist to go with. Most importantly, you should feel comfortable with the dentist performing the treatments.

While cost might affect your decision, remember that some cheaper treatments will need to be replaced more often. Discussing factors like cost and longevity before moving forward is essential in helping you make an informed and confident decision. 


Getting a second opinion from a dentist is never a bad idea. This is especially true if you’ve recently been told you need a lot of dental work.

Second opinions are common in various healthcare fields, and dentistry is no exception. Your current dentist should provide you with your X-rays or send them to the other dentist’s office.

After getting a second opinion, you should choose to get treated by the dentist you feel most comfortable with.

Last updated on February 9, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Wentworth, RB. “What Can Be Done Regarding a New Dentist Who May Be Unjustly Criticizing Other Dentists’ Treatments and Competing For Our Patients?” The Journal of The American Dental Association, 2009.
  2. Schwartz, et al. “Are Consumers Too Trusting? The Effects of Relationships with Expert Advisers.” Journal of Marketing Research, 2019.
  3. Agrawal, et al. “Patients’ Perception about Dental Implant and Bone Graft Surgery: A Questionnaire-Based Survey.” Journal of Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry, 2017.
  4. Pappas, RP. “Ethical considerations when informing patients about suboptimal treatment completed by another dentist.” The Journal of The American Dental Association, 2021. 
  5. Jacquot, J. “Trust in the Dentist-Patient Relationship: A Review.” Journal of Young Investigators, 2005.
  6. Mendes, I. “Why you should get a second opinion at the dentist.” Today’s Parent, 2017.
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