Q: I recently had just one missing tooth replaced with an implant. The bill had nine different charges! What gives?!
A: Mom, I told you to stop emailing my column! (I thought I gave her the Josephs family discount which includes a free pen and a cheese blintz.)
One of my favorite authors is Malcom Gladwell. (Great summer reading for folks like me who cannot read a book that is more than 250 pages.) I follow his theory of “thin slicing”: breaking things down quickly and simply to make intelligent decisions promptly.
Deciphering Dental Insurance Bills
I’m big on lists, bullet points and keeping it simple, so here is what an itemized bill could look like with the replacement of one missing tooth, minus the removal of the tooth: (Procedure code: procedure name and description)
- 0470 Diagnostic Casts: models of your teeth sometimes taken at the start of a case
- 6190 Surgical Implant Index: a clear appliance that sometimes is used to guide the doctor in placement of the implant during surgery
- 6010 Surgical placement of implant body: the cylindrical threaded implant body that is placed in the bone, shaped like a tooth’s root.
- 6104 Bone graft at time of implant placement: filling in gaps around the implant
- 4266 Guided tissue regeneration-resorbable barrier: a thin collagen membrane sewn into the area to contain the bone graft material. (Like a tarp over a pile of sand during a hurricane.)
- 6051 Interim abutment: a plastic post that is occasionally used to connect a temporary crown to the implant.
- 6057 Custom fabricated abutment: the final metal or ceramic post that will connect the implant to the crown
- 6058 Abutment supported porcelain/ceramic crown: the final replacement tooth
Next week, I will decipher a bill for veneers, crowns and inlays (and hieroglyphics).
Dr. Mitchell Josephs practices Implant, Cosmetic and General Dentistry with an emphasis on implants, porcelain veneers, and complex crown and bridge treatment. He is on staff at JFK Medical Center and is a Faculty Advisory Board member at McGill University’s Faculty of Dentistry. He completed his residency at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Hospital.