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What contributes to the cost of dental treatment?

21/06/2018

The cost of treatment is a determining factor for most patients. Very few patients simply move forward with treatment without checking the figure at the bottom of the page. Below, I break down that number down and how the cost of dental treatment is determined:

Number of appointments needed 

  • Fillings, extractions, cleanings and some crowns and bridges may all be carried out in one appointment. The majority of fixed or removable prostheses may require a couple of appointments. 
  • Other lengthy dental work spanning months or years include orthodontic and/or implant treatment.

Materials used

  • Simple materials used for routine dentistry are not too expensive 
  • Other treatment modalities like orthodontic and restorative dentistry have a range of materials to choose from: 
    • Braces come in metal or ceramic brackets. Even the archwires; metal colour or tooth colour crossing the braces play a part in the total figure. 
    • Braces stuck on the inside of your teeth are even more expensive as are transparent aligners used to straighten teeth. 
    • Crowns and bridges may be produced from conventional metal fused to ceramic or all-ceramic metal-free ones. This changes the price considerably. 
    • The same goes for these fixed types of restorations placed on implants. The metals used may be of high quality and better finish than others. 
    • The implant brand, as well as the components used, can be originals or look-alike drastically affecting the overall cost. 
    • Dentures may also be manufactured from different materials; acrylic resin, an acrylic resin with a metal-framework and elastic acrylic resin.

Level of expertise: Specialist work done by specialists always comes with an added premium, both in know-how and costs. This does not mean that the same work done by a non-specialist is inferior in quality. It is simply a fact that a higher level of education brings a slightly higher price tag.

Guarantee: Some practitioners offer a fixed guarantee on the dentistry administered to their patients. This may vary among practitioners. Some of the brands used like the type of implant may also carry a different guarantee; lifetime or none at all.

Laboratory work: Most of the prostheses, whether fixed or removable involve the need for a laboratory. Here technicians, at times even more than one work to construct the teeth. Both fixed or removable prostheses constructed in the laboratory employ methods using high tech equipment carrying hefty costs both in materials and maintenance. These technicians and pieces of equipment also play a part in the total cost

Clinical equipment: some clinical equipment is simply better at what it does than other equipment hence the difference in price.

Having touched all of the above, and stressed on why expenses could be high, there are other factors, which are yet more important than the price tag:

This is the after-sales service, and how well us dentists treat our patients once they’ve paid their bill and settled all. Not every treatment is a complete success story and often after some time has gone by, patients are not fully satisfied with the results from the wave of treatment they had received. Do we keep trying to make them happy without charging or do we discourage them by saying nothing else can be done hoping they would learn to live with it?

Addressing the needs of an unhappy patient is more important than receiving thanks from a hundred satisfied patients! Our professional ethics is big deal, which we cannot put a price tag on. Ask your dentist!

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