Can a dentist refuse to remove your braces because you couldn’t pay the

outstanding bill?

Asking for a friend. It is due to an unexpected disability and ending up on a fixed income, so that they couldn’t even come close to covering the remaining balance. They had been in good standing before the misfortune. The dentist has also made it so no one else will remove them either.

Asked on September 21, 2018 under Malpractice Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

A dental (or medical) practice is a business. And just like an other service business (think electrician, plumber, carpenter, etc.), it needs to be paid for all work performed. Accordingly, if the dentist has not been paid for previous services performed, they are under no obligation to provide future services.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a dentist is not a charity: they do not need to do work for free. If you have not paid your outstanding bill, so you haven't even paid for the work they have done to date, they do not have to do additional work for you. If you didn't pay you electrician, would you expect him to come and install a light? If you hadn't paid you plumber, do you think he will come and fix a leak? The same principal applies.

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