Let’s Do The Math!
Not everyone visits their dentist consistently. So why is this? Maybe you have a fear that keeps you from visiting your dentist regularly. Quite possibly, it’s just not a priority in your busy schedule. But most likely, it’s the cost! Let’s face it, lots of us don’t have dental benefits. So, let’s review the cost of regular dental visits versus the potential cost of emergency treatment.
A general check-up and cleaning is recommended at least once per year (more frequent hygiene visits may be suggested based on individual oral health concerns). This visit commonly consists of a Recall Exam, Bitewing X-Rays, Scaling, Polish and Fluoride. Some aspects, such as units of scaling, will vary from person to person. On average, this visit in Calgary will run approximately $400 to $500 but that may not be all. Say you do visit your dental office regularly and practice good oral hygiene habits at home. Maybe you still have 1 or 2 cavities diagnosed at your annual exam. Those fillings may cost about another $165 to $500 dollars. So in total, an average individual with good oral hygiene and no additional risk factors (such as diabetes, smoking, or medications which affect oral health) may pay an average of between $400 and $1000 annually. Whoa, time out! That sounds like a lot of money, especially if you’re paying all of it out of pocket. So how is it fiscally beneficial to maintain regular dental visits?
Let’s take a look at what the cost may be for an emergency dental visit. Maybe you’re one of many of us who don’t visit your dentist unless you absolutely have to. So you call your dental office when you are experiencing a toothache. The initial visit will likely be an Emergency Exam or Specific Exam along with a Periapical X-ray. This will cost approximately $105. Maybe you have an infection and the dentist writes you a prescription for antibiotics. You’ll have to take this to a pharmacy and factor that cost into your dental emergency. Now, what was the diagnoses and recommended treatment plan? All too often a toothache will end in Root Canal Treatment. This treatment will cost about $730 to $1435, depending on how many canals are in the tooth. After the Root Canal is complete you will require a Filling or maybe a Post and Core. The cost for these services could be between $165 and $340. Once this treatment is finished your dentist will most likely recommend a Crown be placed to protect and give strength to the now compromised tooth structure. A dental Crown costs an average of $1300. Your dental emergency has now cost between $2300 and $3180. That’s definitely more than your check-up and cleaning!
I know what you’re thinking. I wouldn’t choose that course of treatment, just extract that bad tooth and be done with it! Well, Extraction is definitely an option so let’s explore it. First things first, you still have that initial visit, costing about $105. If the dentist gave you a prescription to treat infection, you’ll still need to fill it. Now that’s done, an extraction (excluding wisdom teeth) will cost about $235. But now you’re missing a tooth. If it’s in the front you’ll probably want to replace it for aesthetic reasons. If it’s in the back your dentist will recommend replacing it for functional reasons and for the health of your other teeth. Why? Well we know that we use our molars to chew. It’s hard to enjoy many of our favorite foods with reduced biting power. But it’s more than just that. If you don’t replace a missing tooth, the teeth on either side will drift into the opening over time, causing misaligned teeth. Also, the tooth above the opening will gradually over-erupt. To replace a missing tooth you can opt for a dental Bridge. A Bridge will cost around $3550. The only downside to a Bridge is that it involves crowning the teeth on either side of the gap. Another option for replacing a missing tooth is a dental Implant. Dental Implants are an excellent alternative and cost between $5000 and $6000, depending on all the services involved. Now what started as a tooth Extraction has totaled approximately $3890 to $6340. Definitely not more affordable than repairing the tooth you had.
Besides the fact that regular dental exams and oral hygiene visits are financially advantageous they are also the best course to take for a healthy mouth. Our glimpse at a dental emergency described here has not yet delved into what is potentially happening in the rest of an emergency patient’s mouth. Unfortunately, patients who only visit their dentists for emergencies will frequently have many other issues that haven’t been diagnosed yet. So, while that one tooth is costing up to $6340 there may be a whole host of other problems potentially costing the patient thousands more in dental bills. While there are no guarantees that you will never require major treatment if regular check-ups and cleanings are maintained, (even some dentists have crowns), it is definitely a proactive line of defense. Our mouths are a gateway to our bodies. We eat, speak, and smile with our mouths. Let’s take care of our teeth, their value is incalculable!