October 23, 2019

What is a “no gaps” or “gap free” dentist? Basically it means the dental practice and the dentists who work there have agreed to work under the health fund’s set fees. Rather than working for the normal fee for treatment, the dentist works and collects about half the rate of normal fees, or less.

Health funds are notoriously poor when it comes to giving rebates for dental work. The gap amount has become larger over the years. Dental fees go up. Health fund premiums go up. But the rebates health insurers give back have not gone up at the same rate. Health funds are effectively just taking more profits, which is primarily what they are set up to do.

When a dental practice offers a no gap service the patient appears to benefit by not having to pay anything to make up the shortfall in fees. So how does this work for the dentist? Or more importantly what type of dentist would agree to work so hard for less than half of the normal fees? Lets answer the first question and you can figure the answer out for yourself for the second.

In order to achieve the same income that a full fee dentist would make, the dentist can “create” extra work to do and to bill out in the appointment. If there is a filling needed, the dentist may suggest to do 2 at the same time, after all, that would double the fees and make it worthwhile. Are dentists really having to create more work in order to justify the ridiculously low fees? How else can this gap free system work? As for what type of dentist works like this? I suppose those that have trouble finding a “normal” dental practice to work in. Dentists who are trying to “cut their teeth”, if you will.

Ultimately the patients who are going to the no gap dentist are the ones who are paying in the long run. Having extra dental work done to as a “favor” actually end up losing more tooth structure with unnecessary work being done. Repeated fillings cause breakdown of the teeth and ultimately root canal treatments, crowns, extractions and ultimately implants. If this is the path you want to go down to save a few dollars then by all means go ahead. There may be no gap to pay today, but there sure will be gaps happening in the future.