Cost of Dentistry

Have you ever wondered about the cost of dentistry? Have you ever asked your friends how much they pay for dental treatment?

There is a very old saying: Dental treatment is not expensive, but dental neglect is very expensive. This is true in most areas of health care.

When a person neglects to have annual or semi-annual dental check-ups, problems can be occurring slowly and progressively. When that person waits until pain is the motivating factor to make an appointment, usually the problem has become significant. The cost of dental treatment then becomes higher. Two slowly progressing, but significant problems are cavities and gum problems.

A cavity starts out very small; when it is found in its initial stages the remedy is simple: a small filling is needed. If the cavity is allowed to progress, it becomes larger, and the solution is a larger filling (more expensive). If the cavity gets even larger, it may be deep enough to penetrate the nerve inside the tooth; when this happens the only way to save the tooth is to remove the damaged nerve by root canal treatment (quite expensive). Depending on the amount of tooth lost, it is probable the tooth will also need a crown to restore chewing and appearance (now we are getting deep into the wallet). The cost of each of these procedures gets higher and higher due to the time, skill, care and judgement of the dentist plus the cost of materials, lab fees and the staff to assist.

Gum problems also start out small. Everyone has bacteria in the mouth. Daily brushing and flossing help to remove it. If that bacteria gets under the gums into places where a brush and floss cannot reach, it grows. With the growth comes the by-products of bacteria which slowly attack the gums. The attacks first cause bleeding (easy to remedy with a dental cleaning); then it progresses to cause loss of gum attachment (more expensive to remedy). Finally, the attacks cause loss of bone holding the tooth, which usually means the tooth is loose and must come out (extraction is not too expensive, but replacing that tooth is very expensive).

Both of these dental problems can be minimized or avoided completely with regular dental check-ups and treating problems when they are small. If a person has waited a bit to make a check-up appointment, and the news is grim, it is important to discuss the problems with the dentist and dental hygienist. A plan can be made to get things back in order one step at a time. The cost may be higher to begin, but will be less once the treatment is done, and the person stays on regular dental check-ups.

If you experience some grim news it will be important to remember that you and your dentist are partners in deciding your dental future. After all, what else can impact your life as much regarding your enjoyment of meals, your conversations, your smile and, don’t forget, your kiss!