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Clarence “Rick” Olson, Published January 09 2011

ND dental watchdogs fell asleep

A couple of years ago, my wife and I found ourselves in need of finding a new dental practice to visit due to a change in our insurance coverage. One of the practices that our new dental insurance was a preferred provider for was Allcare Dental and Dentures.

As you know, that company has closed all of its locations across the country, including the one here in Fargo, citing a lack of operating capital to move forward with its business. Quite frankly, I’m not the least bit surprised about this turn of events. Shall we say, I had a sixth sense about Allcare for a long time, which now has been confirmed, that something just wasn’t right.

I called the local Allcare office to make appointments for my wife and me. They advertised that new patients get a free exam and free X-rays on their first visit. Meanwhile, I just had this gut feeling about Allcare that something wasn’t right. It turns out that my suspicions were correct.

All one has to do is Google search “Allcare Dental and Dentures” and the name of that business comes up like a rash on the computer screen. There were several dozen links to various articles about Allcare. I checked on a couple of websites, such as ComplaintsBoard.com. According to the Rip Off Report, consumer advocates referred to Allcare as “a nationwide scam.”

Allcare offices across the country have been the subjects of both official and unofficial consumer fraud complaints and investigations involving overcharging patients for their services; being rude and, in some cases, outright threatening to their patients in a number of instances; requiring that patients pay for procedures in advance; opening credit accounts that patients did not request or sign for; and selling patients dental procedures that they simply didn’t need. For Allcare Dental and Dentures, it was all about the money and nothing else.

I inquired twice with the North Dakota Board of Dental Examiners about the Allcare office in Fargo, and I was assured both times that there were no active complaints or investigations pending against any of the dental practitioners who worked there. The person I spoke with from the dental board in Bismarck said the board had some initial misgivings about Allcare and the fact they were located in a strip mall, but that did not prevent the company from receiving a license to open its dental practice location in Fargo.

Yet, it now appears that my gut feelings were confirmed. We had made appointments with Allcare on two separate occasions and we canceled them both times, so we are not out any money.

I completely sympathize with everyone who had the misfortune of dealing with Allcare Dental and Dentures. I wish everyone good luck who used Allcare and who apparently are out some serious money because of the sudden, unannounced closure of the company.

Olson is an occasional contributor to The Forum’s commentary pages.

E-mail: rickolson@cableone.net.