I'm a dental student/soon-to-be dentist, so I thought I would write a post about the cost of dental work. Like many things in life, most people don't think about how much dental work costs until they have a problem and they are at the dental office. You're smarter than that though right?
I want to just give you an example of the progression of dental decay/cavities and average associated costs
You have a cavity! - cost: about $150.
Guess what? The filling won't last you the rest of your life. You will eventually have more problems with that filling down the road. Fillings only last on average about 15 years. Maybe it will last only a few years, maybe it will last 30+ years. This depends on a lot of factors like oral hygiene, diet, biting habits, etc.
New White (composite) filling
5-20 years down the road:Time to replace the filling because of more decay/fractures/etc. Cost: $200. Once again this filling won't last forever. You would be happy to get 15+ years out of it.
More decay around the filling or your tooth has cracked:
Tooth with Cracks and more decay around the edges
Every time you have more decay and have to replace fillings you lose more tooth structure. After replacing a filling once, there is a good chance that you will soon have a tooth that is not very strong and need to have a cap or crown put on the tooth. Cost $1200
10-15 years later you have more decay around the tooth with a crown. Time to replace the crown! This time the decay is close to or into the nerve of the tooth so you'll need a root canal also.
Underneath a crown that needs to be replaced
Cost: $1500 for the crown and $1200 for the root canal.
10-15 years later you get more decay around the tooth and this time there is not enough tooth structure to even put a crown on the tooth so you have to extract/pull the tooth.
Time to come out buddy
Cost for extraction: $200.
Now you want to replace the missing tooth so you can do all the things we take for granted like chewing, speaking, and looking good. So it's time to get a dental implant.
Dental implant with crown
Total cost for 1 tooth: $7500!!! Now times that by the 28 teeth that you have = $208,000!!!
Now of course individual circumstances vary greatly and you certainly are not going to be putting 28 implants in your mouth, but you get the idea. Here's a simple Dental Fee Estimator if you want to estimate some more costs of your dental work.
Guess what??? It costs a pretty good amount of money if you don't take care of your teeth!
What do I mean by taking care of your teeth?
- Brushing at least 2 times a day for 2 mintues
- Flossing at least once a day
- In office dental cleanings - once every 3 months to 1 year. This varies with individuals.
- Following instructions given to you by your dentist
Ways to save money:
- Get your work done at a dental school
- Find a clinic that offers cheaper rates
- Dental benefits through your employer
Be aware that cheaper is not always better, especially when we are talking about healthcare. I could also add that there is great value in staying with one dentist as he/she will more than likely take more ownership for the work that they have done.
So start brushing your teeth!
Do I have fillings? Yes, I do.
I'm not perfect. Almost all of my back (posterior) teeth have fillings. I don't expect them to last forever, but I'm I'm really good at taking care of them, the cost of replacing them will be far less.