Is Cosmetic Dentistry Grants legit? If you’re considering applying for a grant, you need to be aware of how their business model works and why you may end up paying more after receiving the “grant” than you would have if you’d never applied in the first place.
Our readers have been asking us about dental implant grants lately and that inevitably led us to the website for Cosmetic Dentistry Grants. I had hoped that this would be a great resource for our readers but after hours of research, it became clear that this service is an elaborate scam designed to prey on desperate people who need expensive dental care.
Here’s what Cosmetic Dentistry Grants won’t tell you.
When you apply for a grant on the Cosmetic Dentistry Grants website, you will be providing your information to Oral Aesthetic Advocacy Group Inc., the company that owns the website. This company is registered in Ontario, Canada.
CDG gets paid for referring you to a local dentist.
OAAG will refer you to a participating dentist in your area. The dentists in their network pay OAAG a referral fee for every patient that is referred to them, even if you never show up for your appointment. This is how OAAG makes most of their money.
“The dentists who are affiliated with the program do pay a fee for each patient they are referred,” admits the OAAG on LinkedIn. “It is only through this fee that the organization is able to issue grants, promote its advocacy programs, run media campaigns and sustain the program itself.”
In a response to a Google review from customer Brian Phipps, representative Reuben Carter wrote, “Our participating dentists do get qualified and pay monthly to our program which in turn contribute to the assistance we distribute to patients at the end of treatment.”
Dentists pass that charge on to customers.
Because dentists are obligated to pay that referral fee whether or not their patients show up, many OAAG-affiliated dentists will charge a $50 deposit for the exam. This is to ensure that you will show up for the appointment. Many dentists will claim that this deposit is to cover the cost of your necessary x-rays.
Although the Cosmetic Dentistry Grants website states that the exam should be complimentary, the website also says that imaging and other non-covered services may be required to establish your need for treatment and eligibility for their grant program.
In fact, CDG representative Reuben Carter also said, “The $50 fee as you said is a no-show deposit that in some of our offices is used towards x-rays or towards treatments at their discretion. As we say within our application form we disclaim that our assistance does not provide full grants or free dentistry but we try to help as best as possible.”
The dentist charges extra for treatment so the “grant” can reduce the cost.
When the dentist recommends treatment and provides a quote for services, that estimate is much higher than it should be. Many customers have discovered that the estimates from OAAG-recommended dentists are at least double what other dentists have quoted for similar services.
Of course, the grant from Cosmetic Dentistry Grants is applied to the estimate and reduces the amount owed… but often, the remaining balance due is equal to or higher than what the service would cost at another dentist without a grant.
Ultimately, these “grants” don’t help you save money.
Patients who have applied for grants from Cosmetic Dentistry Grants do not save money on their treatments or receive any meaningful assistance. In many cases, they end up being charged more than they would’ve paid without the grant at all.
The only one helped by these grants is OAAG, who receives referral fees from the dentists.
Cosmetic Dentistry Grants is a scam.
When I began researching Cosmetic Dentistry Grants, I noticed several red flags that indicated this service is a scam. Although I will quote directly from their website and marketing materials, I will refrain from linking directly to their website as I do not want to benefit their company in any way.
CDG does not have any eligibility criteria.
Legitimate grant programs always receive more applicants than they can fill, so they establish eligibility criteria to help them prioritize the people who need help the most.
Despite the extraordinary demand for dental implant grants, Cosmetic Dentistry Grants does not establish any sort of income limits or eligibility criteria for their clients. In fact, their website explicitly states that they do not require any sort of income limits.
“Is the CDG Program only meant for people that cannot afford a dentist?CDG Homepage
Of course not. In fact, because cosmetic and dental implant dentistry is an elective procedure, it truly doesn’t matter what your socio-economic background or income level is. Having a healthy, beautiful smile is a common goal shared by most people.”
CDG wants to ensure that you have money, not that you need help.
Instead of focusing on helping low income people access the dental care that they need, CDG is curiously focused on ensuring that you have money and assets available.
For example, under the question “What is the Qualifying Criteria I Must Satisfy to Obtain a Grant?” their site says:
“Anyone may apply for a Cosmetic Dentistry Grant, however you may need to demonstrate that you have the financial capability in addition to valid insurance coverage, to pay for certain costs that are not included with the grant. For more information, please speak with our representative.”CDG Homepage
Their sole source of funding is referral fees.
Although the CDG website claims that the grants are funded “with revenues derived from the sale of research, marketing and quality control programs (Advocacy Programs) that are utilized by dental practitioners to help improve the efficiency and profitability of their practices,” there is nothing to back up this claim.
The OAAG does not appear to have any other website than the Cosmetic Dentistry Grants website. There is no mention of quality control programs or advocacy programs that are available to dental practitioners there. The only data they gather is from clients who apply for grants, and the only clear revenue stream they have is the referral fees that they gather from participating dentists.
In fact, on LinkedIn, their profile clearly states:
The dentists who are affiliated with the program do pay a fee for each patient they are referred. It is only through this fee that the organization is able to issue grants, promote its advocacy programs, run media campaigns and sustain the program itself. Participating dentists understand that not every patient referred to their practice will follow through with their recommended treatment plan or will becoming a recurring patient. Occasionally a practice must even deal with the frustration of patient “no-shows”, and even with no guarantees our dentists remain committed to their work of transforming people’s smiles.CDG LinkedIn Page
Clearly, Cosmetic Dentistry Grants doesn’t care if their participating dentists lose money from no-shows. Their only concern appears to be their own financial stability.
Listen to these real Cosmetic Dentistry Grants reviews.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. There are many negative reviews for Cosmetic Disability Grants that have been left by real customers. Interestingly, they all follow a common pattern of being charged too much and helped too little.
“False and misleading. It’s just a referral service… Essentially a normal dentist would charge you $800, these guys will say it usually costs $2,000 but we’ll give you a grant for half.Sarah M., Canada source: Yelp
As Sarah found out, Cosmetic Dentistry Grants just provides a referral and an over-inflated rate for treatment. Even after the grant is applied, you may end up paying more than you would’ve paid for similar service from a different provider.
“I went in for an implant (which is $2,500 in NYC) and came out with a $20,000 estimate! Their implant cost came to the same with the “grant” money. I think I will go pay the $2,500 with a reputable dentist and forget these people.”Karen L., California source: Yelp
Karen had a similar experience, where the cost of treatment was not really discounted after the grant. When multiple reviewers have the same bad experience, it’s a pretty solid indication that their version of events is accurate.
“They sent me to a dental office in Manhattan. I called the office to ask what was the starting price for an implant the receptionist couldn’t tell me. I went there did the consultation and to my surprise they charge $5000-6000 per implant, I needed four implants. My treatment plan came up to$25,000. I called the grant to ask if I could go to the office in Brooklyn because I couldn’t afford $14,000 out of pocket. They said no I only get one chance to a treatment plan. So I’m stuck with that dentist.”Shawna Brady, source: Google
As you can tell, Shawna recognized right away that the dentist that Cosmetic Dentistry Grants referred her to was charging too much for their services. However, they would not let her use the grant at any other provider.
“I’m sorry but this is nothing more than a referral service looking for money!! They prey on people with hopes of a grant that is supposedly funded by the Oral Aesthetic Advocacy Group, which by the way is no longer in business according to the BBB.
The CDG sets you up with a selected dentist that I would assume pays for the referral which then charges you $50 for doing nothing at all. And there was no mention of the $50 being applied to any other service. It’s supposed to cover incase you no show for your appointment which I’ve never been charged for by any previous dentist. If the fee is for no shows then why not only charge the $50 if you actually no show??
I was then transferred over to the scheduler for the dentist who immediately stated that this was a partial grant and that the actual grant amount would be disclosed after the assessment and that I would be responsible for the remaining balance at which point she started talking about financing through care credit if I had at least a 620 credit score.
When she could sense my hesitation about using credit she kept asking multiple times about having either a cosigner or someone else to sign for me. I had already had my doubts about the whole thing and this approach just confirmed my suspicion. I said goodbye and hung up.”Brian Phipps, source: Google
Brian’s experience is sadly typical for many potential customers, as confirmed by the repeated theme among all of these reviews.
“CDG charged me 50$ over the phone, they emailed and directed me to a dental clinic in upland. This assigned dental clinic jack up price of a single teeth implant to 6000$ and then give me the “grant”, with their final price I could implant my teeth elsewhere without any “grant” and enjoy better price and much more decent service!”Kate M, source: Google
As you can tell, many of these reviewers have noticed the same trend in ridiculously high rates quoted by the dentists recommended by Cosmetic Dental Grants.