Dear Sticker Shock

Dear Dr. H,
 
My husband went to see the dentist and it is going to cost $10,000 for his dental work!
Why is dental work so expensive and who actually spends this kind of money on their teeth?
 
Sticker Shock
Dear Sticker Shock,
 
I am sorry you were taken by surprise by the cost of dental work.
 
Since I don’t know what dental work your husband needed, I can’t tell you if that price is reasonable or not.
 
Generally, $10,000 would be alot for a single tooth. However, $10,000 would be a great bargain for the entire upper jaw!
 
I am going to go back to my standard car analogy:
 
If you buy a Mitsubishi Mirage (a Consumer Reports worst ranked car) for $14,000, you might be able to drive it 150,000 miles. You will more than likely spend a few thousand dollars in repairs to get it there.
 
However, if you buy a Honda Accord ( a Consumer Reports well ranked car) for $22,000 it will more than likely make 150,000 miles.You would be disappointed if you spent a few thousand dollars in repairs to get it there.
 
If you buy a Porsche for $100,000, I have no idea if it will make 150,000 miles or not!
 
It is the same with dentistry. Quality dental work will last longer and need less maintenance than poor dental work. However, quality work will cost more. There is, however, a point where more money does not buy better quality.
 
It is also important to note that making the 150,000 mile mark on any car will require that you drive the speed limit, stay on paved roads, and that you change the oil with some regularity.
 
It is the same with dental work, you still have to brush and floss in order to make it last.
 
If it were me, I would have my husband get a second opinion. I also would not necessarily choose the cheapest option. You want him to choose the option that he is most comfortable with.
 
I also like to remind patients that a car is expected to last 5-10 years and people are willing to spend upwards of $40,000 for it. Quality dental work will usually last longer than 5 to 10 years (just don’t go “off roading” and chew ice!) and the ability to chew is pretty valuable.
 
Dr. H’s 2 cents

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Allison House DMD

Owner, House Dental

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