I was getting legally tortured by a dentist the other day, who informed me that I needed a root canal after he finally set his instruments of pain aside. The cost would be $400+ dollars.
Now, I’m not the brightest bulb in the patch, but I have been to college and in business and I realize that the dentist has many expenses, but for what a root canal consists of, the price seems too much.
Using somewhat sterile technique – which cannot be 100% because he is fishing in your dirty mouth – the dentist uses about $2 worth of anesthetic to painfully numb the tooth. Then, after flirting with the pretty assistant for 10 minutes while the stuff makes your mouth and lips feel like inflated inner tubes, he gets to work. Now, he is working on something less than half an inch big. He cleans out any debris from any cavity with something like a Dremel coarse grinder. ($2 bit) Then he flushes it out with an antiseptic wash. ($2) With a micro bit in the Dremel, he opens the pith of the tooth, locates the nerves and grinds them out. ($2) There can be from 2 to 4, depending on the amount of roots in the tooth. He has to be careful not to go through the bottom of the root.
That done, he may flush out the empty canals. ($2) Then he will use micro probes to insert medicated paper or fiber points which prevent infection and kill any germs in there. Then he will rinse out the opening in the tooth proper, dry it and carefully pack in a filling. ($2) Over that he may apply a harder bond that matches the shell of the tooth. ($2) IF necessary, you might have to come back to have a cap applied. (Cost to make the cap in materials = $5. Cost to cement the cap in place = $5.) You might just have to have the whole tooth ground down to a stump before all of this work begins, the canals reamed and plugged, a gold post cemented in place and an artificial tooth poked onto it. (Total cost in materials = $50.)
Now, the original cost is $24. Figure in his time at $50 an hour. Now it comes to $74. Since he has to pay his staff, figure his time at $100 an hour. The cost comes to $124.
Big difference from $400 plus. I know that dentists get their teeth made by a dental lab, which pays minimum wage to all of these poor folks who slave away at tiny molds, sculpting, casting and fitting teeth and that the lab will charge the dentist $50 a tooth. (A touch too high, if you ask me.)
No wonder so many people won’t go to a dentist until their teeth are hurting. The cost is so high. What do you think? A friend of mine had partial plates made and 6 or 7 teeth pulled, had a filling, and some teeth bonded for the cost of $3000! He’s still trying to justify the expense. PLUS, he had to make the guy redo some of the work because the fellow was in such a hurry that he screwed up several times. (No discount for that! Not even when the dentist screwed up a normal tooth and had to fix it. He charged my friend for doing so!)
The Night Watch always knows things.