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No X-Ray Dentist
updated: Apr 14, 2014, 10:50 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

I'd like to know if anyone has a dentist who does not insist on taking x-rays every year? The ADA recommends x- rays every 2-3 years, or only as needed to address a problem. When I've mentioned this to my dentists they always claim that I get more radiation from the sun than from their x- rays, as though this is some kind of justification. They treat me like I'm a kook if I question the yearly bite wing x-rays. I'd like to find a dentist whose primary concern is patient health vs insurance reimbursement.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 510930 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 10:58 AM

I've had 3 different dentists over the past 25 years here in SB and they all say the same thing. I get a sense that they just want the CASH from the insurance companies. Just tell them NO when they start badgering. I do feel like some dentists take advantage of us.


 COMMENT 510932 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 11:00 AM

I go to Dr. Fred Hepp on State Street. He does NOT take or insist on X Rays every year unless there is a potential issue arising like a small cavity and even then, if you say NO, he obliges.


 COMMENT 510935 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 11:12 AM

Barney Valeska - 4141 State St. He's in the back right portion of the El Mercado Shopping Center, right near El Rincon Bohemio.

He will never pressure-sell you on unneeded dental procedures, unlike the majority of dentists in town.


 COMMENT 510936P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 11:13 AM

I've had many dentists and none of them refused to honor my request for no xrays during a routine cleaning (as long as they can charge the insurance company the full amount). I also refuse the "polishing" step.


 COMMENT 510939P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 11:17 AM

Bernard Valeska, DDS


 COMMENT 510944 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 11:34 AM

Robert A. Scott DDS on Patterson Ave. He will recommend x-rays when he feels they are needed but doesn't insist if you don't want them. They have digital x-rays also which minimizes exposure. Great office and staff.


 COMMENT 510945 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 11:35 AM

Another vote for Fred Hepp. He's super respectful about my not wanting xrays yearly because of my history of cancer and waaaaay too many CT and xrays. He is also really great about not doing fillings just because of a little dark spot (I had the same dark spot since 2007, but kept it from progressing til this year, when we finally did a filling). He's a super chill surfer dude, SB native, and he's an honest, hardworking, straight up good man.


 COMMENT 510950 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 11:56 AM

Dr. Hepp is my choice as well. He's great.


 COMMENT 510953P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 12:08 PM

I'll remember that on my next appointment with Dr. Scott!


 COMMENT 510970 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 12:45 PM

Lyndon Lambeth is excellent--I've been going to him for several years--and he takes x-rays every other year.


 COMMENT 510974 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 01:01 PM

Dr. Loan Su in Goleta. She's very thorough, but does not insist on x-rays.


 COMMENT 510980P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 01:12 PM

My dentist, Dr. Lisa Beck-Uhl, has always been attentive to my health and financial concerns. She works with her patients on what they need and can afford over time, because keeping the patient healthy, happy, and solvent is how you build a good, long term relationship. http://www.drbeckuhldentist.com/


 COMMENT 511000 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 02:17 PM

Another vote for Bernard Valeska, DDS . I've been going to him for over 13 years. He only does what needs to be done and that's it.


 COMMENT 511016 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 03:33 PM

I brought the issue up with my dental tech while waiting for Exam by my dentist. She asked if I'd like to see if he'd agree to a two-year cycle instead of yearly. He determined I wasn't particularly cavity-prone and so they put me on that 2-year cycle. I'll still get regular cleanings, just not the yearly x-ray. I didn't know there was a 2-year option! So you might just check with your own dentist...


 COMMENT 511020P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 03:37 PM

I'm glad you posted this, OP. I have a similar concern!


 COMMENT 511026P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 04:44 PM

Excellent question and thread.


 COMMENT 511035 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 04:56 PM

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. It's reassuring to know others think about it too. X-ray damage is cumulative, so the goal should always be to minimize excessive exposure. The ADA also recommends that the need for X-rays should be assessed after the exam, not as soon as you sit down for the cleaning. I guess I could just be the "crank" patient and stand my ground, but do I really want an irritated dentist/ hygienist working in my mouth? Better to find a dentist with a responsible approach to care.


 COMMENT 511047 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 05:46 PM

Santa Barbara Dental is good, too.



 COMMENT 511053 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 06:37 PM

Dr. Robert Caraco -- a great dentist who doesn't over-treat or over-X-ray, plus he's a really nice guy.


 COMMENT 511057 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 06:49 PM

And yet another vote for Barney Valeska. He and the whole staff are minimalist yet thorough in their approach - a great relief from some other local dentists I have gone to who pushed me toward unnecessary procedures. At Dr. V's they ask me if I want to do x-rays. Love that!


 COMMENT 511064 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 07:45 PM

With out a doubt, Dr. Hepp.. Great for the whole family!


 COMMENT 511076 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 09:03 PM

The best way to find a doctor who cares about you is to not use any insurance. That leaves nothing in between you & the caregiver, and the price is much more negotiable. X-rays every year seem like an extreme health hazard; every 2-3 is resonable considering how it gives a view inside. That said, there has to be a better way.


 COMMENT 511093P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-14 10:32 PM

How's your tooth enamel? If these X-tra X-rays are always showing you don't have cavities or other problems, then do without them.

Dr. Rai is a WONDERFUL dentist. I just love him. He is all about keeping your teeth and gums healthy and he will listen to you patiently and answer thoughtfully any questions you might have about treatment. I hope he's here in SB for decades to come, because I don't ever want to have to try and find another dentist. He is a keeper. 560-9999

The best thing you can do for your teeth and gums is to start using a periodontal "dry brush." I get mine at that drug store in Loreto Plaza (cost about $3 or less). Dry brushing helps prevent plaque build-up and keeps your gums super healthy. I think dentists don't recommend dry brushing because if you dry brush, you don't need your teeth cleaned as often.


 COMMENT 511129 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 07:05 AM

Dr. Treavor Denny on the Mesa. Your dentist whoever you choose should work with you. There are some large "Companies" that I would not recommend.


 COMMENT 511136 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 07:32 AM

While the subject is current, when one does need x-rays, any input regarding digital x-rays versus conventional? My understanding is that digital x-rays emit less radiation, however the equipment requires a considerable investment. I wonder if most dentists have switched to digital; my current dentist has not.


 COMMENT 511141P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 07:41 AM

Another vote for Dr. Hepp. Years ago my dentist of 20 years quoted me a very high price for a crown. A friend recommended Dr. Hepp and he changed me HALF the other quote.......no wonder the first dentist only worked three days a week........


 COMMENT 511145 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 07:52 AM

I am a retired dentist. This problem is not caused so much by dentists wanting money, though there is sadly some of that. It is mainly caused by our rampant legal system that will allow patients to sue a dentist for just about anything including 'missing' a dental condition. So if you skip x rays, even if you give the dentist 'permission' to skip x rays, he is still on the hook if he misses a dental condition, or cancer. They are doing what our doctors and hospitals are forced to do by our legal system, over treat patients to cover their butts for rampant law suits. That is the truth of it all. Hope that helps at least understand why. Change the legal system, and you'll change this, otherwise, get ready for x rays!


 COMMENT 511153 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 08:03 AM

Guess I'm just lucky. Out of five dentists I've dealt with in Santa Barbara over 30 years none have pushed for (or even been willing to perform) annual radiography without very special reasons. With modern digital imaging the radiation issue is rapidly going by the wayside, but its still a nuisance and I'm happy to image problem areas every other year and full mouth every five. Currently, we do well with Grube for the adults and Pham for the children.


 COMMENT 511155 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 08:07 AM

Another vote for Valeska! I left another high pressure sales-dentist and went to him. Haven't looked back!


 COMMENT 511174P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 08:58 AM

I was "fired" by my dentist for objecting to frequent xrays! I actually received a letter from him terminating our relationship even though I had explained that my concern was over my cancer exposure as I had already experienced two malignant melanomas (now I have had four removed). My current dentist simply explains the purpose and has me sign a waiver when I do not want to get the xrays (I sometimes do of course). Despite the retired dentist's claim above that a waiver is not valid, it is. I also believe that xrays are a standard billing honeypot for those of us who have any insurance and therefore we are pressured to get them by most dentists as a profit center, no matter that they protest it is for our own good.


 COMMENT 511207 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 10:04 AM

Regarding radiation exposure of digital vs film, some excellent reviews can be found with a google search of "dental x-ray guidelines". Digital has the potential for significantly less exposure, but if used improperly can actually be worse. I can't even remember the last time my dentist looked carefully at x-ray images and diagnosed a problem based on observation. All intervention I have received in the past 10 years has been the result of pain reported by me, or evidence of decay detected by the hygienist exam. I tend to agree with the retired dentist above. The stockpile of images is used to ward off lawsuits and to satisfy the insurance companies. Delta Dental, for example, requires multiple detailed images before and after crowns as a hedge against rogue dentists submitting fraudulent claims. More x-rays than have absolutely NO impact on patient care.


 COMMENT 511212 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 10:12 AM

I have been going to Dr. Lannan for almost 30 yrs. I had the full mouth x-rays when I first went but thereafter have said NO to x-rays unless absolutely needed. He has never insisted, and in fact last year I thought I needed one tooth x-rayed but he said I did not.
My husband, whose teeth are not as good as mine, is submissive and has had lots more x-rays than I. Dr. Lannan is an excellent dentist, but I don't think he is taking new patients.


 ORPHEUS agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 10:24 AM

If the dentist actually looked at the x-rays, I would be more inclined to have them done. But no one, not the dentist nor the hygienist, even bothers to look at them. No one says a word about them. I am intrigued by one of the above claims about the ADA suggesting that the need for x-rays be assessed after the exam rather than automatically prior to the cleaning. I certainly would agree with that.


 COMMENT 511218 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 10:29 AM

Another vote for Dr. Fred Hepp. He also has a gentle touch and calming manner. Office staff is really nice as well.


 COMMENT 511223P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 10:36 AM

Dr. Dukes on the Mesa doesn't take x-rays every year.


 COMMENT 511226 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 10:44 AM

You can turn down getting xrays, but xrays yearly are good for your health. Kim, DDS in Goleta is the best.


 COMMENT 511227 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 10:45 AM

Your dentist should do only what you want him to do, and what's best for you... Insist on not getting xrays if you don't want them, want a dentist who actually 'listens' and has great professional staff and excellent pain free work and up-to-date offices, services, products and educated assistants, I speak from over 25 yrs. experience with his dentistry, we love them and highly recommend Dr. Stephens ! It's your mouth, your body, not theirs. I go to Dr. Stephens in Agoura 2801 Townsgate Rd., 494-3231, they'll actually educate you and it's totally worth the drive for his expertise.


 COMMENT 511326 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 03:21 PM

Maybe it is primarily for the liability, but I don't think they mind the money either.


 COMMENT 511364 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-15 07:11 PM

Dr. Lisa Beck-Uhl in Goleta is excellent. She is gentle, kind, very skilled, thoroughly explains treatment options and has reasonable rates. She also has a caring, pleasant office staff. 805-964-5582


 COMMENT 511887 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-18 09:59 AM

I am a lawyer and I can assure you the value of any dental "malpractice" case is so negligible that you rarely ever see one filed in court. The cost involved in proving up such a claim when measured against the potential damage recovery will keep "dental malpractice" from ever becoming the "rampant lawsuits" asserted by the retired dentist. It sounds more like bitterness for being sued by someone once and a fervent belief that they did nothing wrong. Hence the "blame the lawyers" mantra!


 CORKY agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-26 01:32 PM

Where, I go at State and Alamar, they know I don't like X-rays and they're never pushed it. I just say No.


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