Why Are Dentists in the US So Expensive?

posted by Chris Valentine

Dentists’ fees are so high that many simply allow their dental health to decay, but why are dentists so expensive? Read on to find out.

It’s no secret to anyone in America that the cost of health care can be…quite high. Health care seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongues these days, as the debate rages on in Washington over affordable treatment. You can expect it to be one of the big central topics of the 2020 election.

Reminders of these high costs are everywhere, even when you go in for your yearly teeth cleaning. The bill alone might be enough to make your jaw drop. but why are dentists so expensive?

The high costs certainly tend to keep some people away from proper oral health. Read on, and we’ll walk you through the facts and what you need to know.

Overhead Costs Are Very High

There can be a sense, when you pay a big bill, that the money is going directly into the dentist’s pocket. This can be a tough pill to swallow.

However, that’s not really the case. The overhead costs involved with running a functional dentist’s office can be enormous. Rent payments, payroll for employees, insurance, taxes, equipment, supplies… there is a huge amount the average dentist’s office has to cover. That list, even, is just the tip of the iceberg.

On top of that, many dentists are still paying off loan debts from medical school. At the end of the day, the profit margins for the average dentist are much slimmer than most people assume.

If costs were to lower dramatically, there’s a fair chance that most dental offices wouldn’t be able to stay in business. That’s just the reality of the marketplace as it is today.

Lab Work Can Be Quite Expensive Too

Dentists don’t always have the final say when it comes to the cost of many treatments. Often times, they have to outsource aspects of care to various labs.

Labs create crowns and dentures, analyze samples, and do much of the work required by many procedures.

There are a lot of different labs out there, and they are not all the same. The quality of products made may vary greatly from lab to lab. A better lab means a better product, but it also means higher costs as well. This isn’t something most dentists can control.

It’s for the benefit of the patient at the end of the day as well. You wouldn’t want something breaking in your mouth or wearing down too easily, right? Then it’s important that you rely on your dentist to pick a lab that you can trust.

You just have to pay for that quality as well.

Most Dental Insurance Doesn’t Cover Much

We have an expectation of how insurance works thanks to our work with general health insurance and auto insurance. However, most dental plans don’t cover nearly as much as these other forms of insurance.

In fact, most dental insurance plans will cover general cleanings and X-Rays and not much else. In a best-case scenario, it might cover half of a crown or a more complicated procedure. It’s a minor cost assistance system, which often surprises people who haven’t had to pay for dental work in the past.

The financial burden on patients is much higher than in other areas of healthcare simply because most dental plans don’t offer much assistance. This is how dental insurance always has worked, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve been down this road before.

The only thing has changed is the average cost of a dental procedure. The gap between traditional coverage amounts and money owed continues to widen.

If you’re not using insurance and are paying out of pocket, it’s worth asking your dentist if they would give you a discount. Most dentists hate having to deal with insurance reps and figure out copays. It’s quite a bit of work. They might be willing to cut the costs a bit if you’re willing to save them the time of doing all this labor.

It’s Very Hard Work 

As much as we’d prefer it to be otherwise, dental care is not a casual, counter-but product. It’s not like going to the store and picking up some soap.

Dentistry is an incredibly specific and specialized skill. Dentists and oral hygienists go through a lot of schooling and training in order to provide the service that they do for their clients.

Dentists have to learn a lot and know a lot more about our mouths than we do. After all, do you know the difference between an extraction vs root canal? Probably not, but your dentist does, and that’s why their services have such a high value.

This training is intensive and expensive. If we want to keep experienced dentists in the field, it’s important to properly value this expertise. If you’ve ever gone to a very cheap dentist’s office before, you’ve likely experienced lackluster service.

While it hurts to front the bill, ensuring a dentist’s pay is worth the great lengths they go to to learn their craft is important.

Why Are Dentists So Expensive? 

If you’ve had to get an oral procedure done in the past year, there’s one question likely on your mind: why are dentists so expensive?

There are many reasons for the high cost of dental care, but the above information can help outline the most common ones. Understanding your bill might not help you feel better, but it’ll at least give you some peace of mind.

Need more health advice? Check out our blog for more information.

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