The Cost of Dental Care
February 18, 2014
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The Cost of Dental Care...

“A tooth is much more to be prized than a diamond.”  -Cervantes, Don Quixote

Healthy teeth go largely unnoticed.  They allow us to smile, laugh, and eat what we want to eat.  Only when they get broken, lost, or infected do we really start to think about how valuable teeth really are.

So, why is modern dental care so pricey?

It costs to keep up with technology.  - We live in a time where technology is constantly evolving to make dentistry (and all healthcare) safer, more comfortable, and more predictable.  These improvements come at a cost that is ongoing and evolving as well.  Just like your smartphone, the next great thing is consistently right around the corner.  Dentists and their teams must spend countless hours researching and learning how to best utilize technology to serve their patients.  The positive is that dentistry gets better every day.

Overhead costs are huge.  - Beautiful, white, straight, healthy teeth surrounded by pink, healthy gums are not an item that can be purchased in bulk at a local superstore.  The cost of dental care must include lab costs, dental supply costs, sterilization, salaries for team members, medicaments, facility overhead, and a variety of taxes and fees harvested by various levels of government.  On top of that, most healthcare providers are saddled with hundreds of thousands in student loan debt from their training.  It costs a lot to run a dental office.

Dental insurance isn’t really insurance and often adds to overhead costs.  - The current model of dental coverage pays for some routine x-rays, usually a couple of cleanings, and maybe a minor repair or two.  The customary maximum coverage amount is around $1500 and has not increased since the 1960’s.  Dental insurance is more of an employer provided supplement than a safety net to cover a lot of broken teeth.  It adds to dental overhead because most dental offices must employ one or two full-time team members to verify, file, and track all of the required paperwork.

So how can patients minimize their dental care costs?  Prevention is one way.  Brush, floss, use fluoride, and seek routine, preventative care.  Eat and drink healthy.  Make sure to maximize dental benefits each year.  Utilize HSAs, benefit plans, FSAs, cafeteria plans, and the like.  Fix teeth before they start to hurt (this is most always less expensive and less extensive).  Take advantage of patient finance plans that allow lower monthly payments, often interest free.  Take care of those teeth so that they stay unnoticed and healthy.

Until next week, keep smiling.

-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at