Some UAE dentists caught out for grossly over-treating patients

By: Nick Webster | May 12, 2018 | The National

Dubai Health Authority handed out 25 fines for fraud, waste and abuse cases.



From left, Dr Per Rehnberg, chief executive of Snö Dental Clinics, and dentist Dr Nasser Fouda, say dentists can often view their practice as a business rather than as providing healthcare. Pawan Singh / The National

Expensive and pointless dental treatments offered to patients to boost profits have been exposed in a mystery shopping exercise at practices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Fifteen clinics were checked by dentists posing as patients to assess how common over-treatment is in the industry.

One patient was offered unnecessary root canal treatment, crowns and fillings at a total cost of Dh26,200, when all that was required was two fillings and a visit to a hygienist.

The case was just one example highlighted by Scandinavian dentists in Abu Dhabi.

Regulators said they were stepping up inspections, and would only recommend providers based on a positive history of care.


Dr Per Rehnberg, chief executive of Snö Dental Clinics, who has been working in Sweden, Norway and Denmark before running a dentist practice in Abu Dhabi, was shocked at the high level of treatments being offered to patients, with insurers often picking up the costs.

“Root canal treatment is often suggested and is very common here.” he said.

“After my experience, I sent staff out to several other clinics and they found the same thing.

“There was a lack of documentation. Clinics take x-rays but it is very important for patients to get a proper status so they know what is being included in an exam.”

One clinic suggested a patient had a root canal, 3 crowns fitted and 4 fillings amongst other minor treatments costing Dh26,200.Caries – decaying teeth – were removed by another dentist to avoid the need for fillings, root canal work or crown fittings, at a cost of just Dh3,000.

“It is a competitive business, we know that, but none of the mystery shoppers were given any documents and the majority of clinics recommended over treatment,” Dr Rehnberg said.

“The science has gone so far forward. We know there are many alternatives that are cheaper and less invasive than a root canal.

“We earn less money as dentists, as insurance companies do not always pay for these kind of alternative treatments, but they are usually better for the patient.”

Dentists said nine out of ten patients in pain did not need a root canal treatment, yet the procedure was still offered.

“The Hollywood smile is big business; it looks good but many patients I see for follow up work it is clear it has been done in a hurry,” Dr Rehnberg said.

“Cosmetics are very popular, but many dentists are not describing the pros and cons to patients. “There is always risk.”

Veneers at a cost of between Dh2,000 to Dh4,000 per tooth were commonly prescribed, instead of a cheaper option of bleaching.

To achieve the perfect smile, patients can expect to pay anything from Dh12,000 to Dh40,000 for veneers, whereas bleaching can cost just Dh2,000.

Dentists have said proper record keeping is crucial to maintain a transparent industry.



Dr Nasser Fouda has been in the UAE since 1996 and said a common trend is dentists viewing their practice as more of a business than providing healthcare.

“Many dentists call people clients, rather than patients and want to make money – they are more like teeth mechanics, and are happy to drill, screw or carry out a root canal,” he said.

“Patients may go in for a simple filling, and end up with a crown – that’s not always the best option.

“Dentistry teams often want to do everything themselves, rather than call in specialists to maximise their profits. This is not always the best option.


“It’s preferable to preserve natural teeth for as long as possible, as the structure is much better and artificial products will never be as good as enamel and dentine.”

There are clear rules and regulations for dentistry to follow, and clinics must adhere to a strict operating policy imposed by regulators – either the Dubai Health Authority or Department of Health.

DHA has said its regulators inspected 59 clinics in Dubai in 2017, issuing seven warnings and handing out 25 fines for misdemeanors around fraud, waste and abuse.

“At the Health Funding Department we do not directly regulate provider service pricing at this time,” said Ali Lutfi, Head of Insurance Permit at Health Funding at the DHA.

“However, we do conduct inspections across all medical providers in the Emirate from a financial aspect – including hospitals, medical centers, dental clinics and pharmacies. Our inspections mainly look for fraud, waste and abuse (FWA).

“Part of our licensing requirements for insurance companies and third party administrators is for them to provide us with quarterly FWA reports, highlighting any providers with suspected FWA.

“We select providers to inspect based on these reports and feedback from members via our various complaints channels.”

The Department of Health did not respond to a comment request in time for publication.



By Nick Webster

May 12, 2018


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Most root canal treatments not needed, warn UAE dentists

By: Jasmine Al Kuttab/ Abu Dhabi | May 7, 2018 | Khaleej Times

Dental experts say root canal is the last treatment to be considered and 9 out of 10 patients do not need a root filling. Much less invasive and cheaper options can be carried out in most cases.

Dentists must inform their patients that only 10 per cent of the cases need a root canal.

Almost nine out of 10 patients never required root canal treatment but most were unnecessarily lured into the invasive treatment, an Abu Dhabi doctor has said.



As Root Canal Awareness Week gets under way across the globe, Dr Per Rehnberg, CEO of Snö Dental, is warning against the over-use of the treatment. He urged patients to obtain all the facts before proceeding with it. “Root canal is the absolute last thing you should consider for your teeth; everything should be done to ensure natural teeth are kept vital.”

He stressed that patients who often complain about tooth ache, which can be caused by a cavity, can usually have a much less invasive and cheaper option done than the root canal treatment.

“The problem is that around 10 per cent of the band aid cases (traditional filling) will need a root filling, that is why many dentists are often quick to suggest a root canal. But nine out of 10 patients do not actually need a root filling.”

He pointed out that dentists must inform their patients that only 10 per cent of the cases  need a root canal and share with them the other available options.

Moreover, Dr Rehnberg exp-lained that health insurance companies pay much more for a root canal treatment than the traditional filling, which could be why many dental clinics lure patients into getting the costly treatment.

He added that the band aid treatment costs around Dh500, whereas a root canal treatment is usually around Dh3,000, and will also require extra procedures, including placing a crown on top of the tooth, which costs another Dh2,000.

“What we have seen is that the root canal treatment has become a common option, or even a first-time option when the pat-ient only has slight tooth ache.”

In fact, Dr Rehnberg and his team conducted a mystery shopping survey around the UAE to identify the clinics that provide thorough information to the patients, and those that recommend invasive, costly and unnecessary treatments. “We wanted to look at the diagnoses and suggestions for treatment, and we found that it is very common to suggest the root canal treatment before they even knew what to do.

“We took 15 people from our company and sent them out for the mystery shopping in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and found that most dentists showed a lack of proper documentation. Many patients were also suggested the root can-als, which we later treated with simpler and more affordable treatments.”

He said that it is important for patients to trust their dentists; however, it is also important to receive transparent information about the alternatives.

Dr Rehnberg added that people are more prone to having dental cavities in the UAE, for various reasons that are often related to their lifestyle choices, including smoking and eating sugary and processed foods.

However, having cavities does not necessarily mean patients have to turn to the invasive treatment.  “I’ve seen people who had low risk and still had root canals. This is a sign of possible over-treatment.”

He also noted that official documentation is necessary for the pat-ient in order to be able to receive second opinions.

“If a dentist is reluctant to allow the patients to keep their documents, then this is a concern, because it’s a matter of trust.”

 Dr Gun Norell of Snö Dental, who has worked in dentistry in various parts of the world for over 30 years, said raising awareness on the matter is key.

“We urge people to seek a second opinion before having invasive treatments carried out, and advise that they think about root canal as the last option rather than the first.”


Free second opinions for patients

To help support patients with their decision, Snö Dental is offering free second opinions on root canal treatments for all residents of Abu Dhabi, during Root Canal Awareness Week from May 6-12.

“We always evaluate the teeth and if we can avoid over treatment by providing a less invasive option for the tooth to recover, we will do that,” said Dr Per Rehnberg, CEO of Snö Dental.


Jasmine Al Kuttab/ Abu Dhabi

May 7, 2018


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Free screening and top prevention tips offered for Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 20, 2018 | Health Magazine AE

In an effort to shed light on the importance of prevention when it comes to oral cancer, the Abu Dhabi based practice is offering the screening from April 19 to 26 and has identified eight top tips to avoid the disease – which is notoriously difficult to detect.

While oral cancer is not a rare disease, it is particularly dangerous because it tends to go unnoticed. The potential for death is significantly reduced if cancer is detected early, making treatment easier, less invasive and more than 90% curable.



Dr Per Rehnberg, CEO of Snö Dental said: “Oral health is important to overall health and we believe regular checkups can help prevent oral cancer by helping detect it earlier than ever before. The best way to manage and treat an oral cancer diagnosis is by combining early detection of the disease with timely treatment.

“This can affect all adults therefore we would urge people to get regular screenings and we are delighted to be in a position that we can offer this for free to the Abu Dhabi community.”

“At Snö Dental, we would like to take the opportunity to get involved and give back to our local community in hopes to raise oral cancer awareness and the need for early detection to save lives.”



Here are some simple tips from Dr Per Rehnberg, that can help prevent oral cancer.

Don’t use tobacco products

Smoking has been linked to many different types of cancer, including that of the head, neck and oral cavity. To greatly reduce your chance of developing oral or oropharyngeal cancer, stay away from tobacco in any form.

Maintain good oral hygiene

Brush and floss your teeth daily as bad oral hygiene is a known risk factor for oral cancer. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride-based toothpaste is critical in removing bacteria that causes cavities, gingivitis (inflammation in the gum) and bad breath. Flossing is often forgotten, however, if you don’t floss, you will miss cleaning 35 percent of your tooth surfaces. Flossing in the evening will remove bacteria that like to feed on food particles throughout the day and also prevent bad breath.

Regular self-oral examination

Examine your oral cavity (mouth) in good light once every month to look for non-healing ulcers, areas of bleeding, abnormal patches or any swellings, as these may be signs of cancer and early detection increases the chances of successful treatment.

Have regular professional screening

Scheduling six-month check-ups is a great way to keep a healthy mouth. Early detection and regular preventive examination are key to surviving oral cancer. Regular expert screening at a dental clinic can detect early warning signs, giving you your best chance at successful treatment. Make sure your clinic does this.

Protect yourself from sun exposure

Lip cancer is directly related to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and people who work outdoors and have prolonged exposure to the sun are more likely to develop lip cancer. To reduce this risk, you must try to limit your exposure to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This does not mean you must avoid the sun altogether. Always wear a protective lip balm with SPF when you’re outside in the strong sun.

Don’t ignore any ulcer / bleeding / pain

If you spot any ulcers or bleeding that do not respond to treatment for over a month, please get it checked out as it could be something much more serious.

Proper diet and a healthy lifestyle

A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts with regular exercise is known to protect from oral cancer. Most of us have sedentary lifestyles and we must try and balance this by doing some form of regular exercise.

Cut out alcohol

Alcohol is known to be a big risk factor for oral and oropharyngeal cancer, particularly when used along with tobacco. It is advisable to limit your alcohol intake to a minimal level. Not only will this prove to be good for your liver and heart, but it also reduces your risk of oral cancer. Latest general recommendation says no more than 5 glasses of wine or 5 pints of beer per week.

To schedule your oral cancer screening, contact Snö Dental today at 800 DENTIST (800 3368478).


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