Going to the dentist isn’t always easy.
It can be difficult to find the time, and few people want to hear about how they need to floss more.
Some people might also face certain anxieties about the dentist.
For many though, going to the dentist is difficult because it’s expensive.
Considering that they’re just cleaning and repairing your teeth, you may wonder why dentist visits are so expensive.
Why Is The Dentist So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average visit to the dentist’s office for cleanings costs around $50 to $200.
However, certain services can cost several thousand dollars.
A few factors like your dentist’s experience level and the type of service you need can impact the price of your dentist visit.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Professional Service
One of the main reasons why the dentist is so expensive is that you’re seeking a professional service.
Going to the dentist isn’t like grocery shopping.
You’re not looking at commodity prices.
Instead, you’re looking at professional services.
You don’t want just anyone taking care of your teeth or pulling them out, for example.
Dentists have to go to school to practice.
While they may not tack on as much debt as a doctor, they still end up with very expensive student loans.
Most dentists have to work on paying off those expensive loans while also maintaining the expenditures of their office.
Since they’re specifically trained to operate on your mouth, they’re able to charge a more expensive price.
No one else has the qualifications to provide that service to you safely.
As such, they can set their prices a bit high.
Dentists are expensive because they offer professional services.
2. Experience Level
Another reason going to the dentist is expensive is that you may be going to a dentist with a lot of experience.
Like in other fields, the more experience that the practitioner has, the more money they can charge for their services.
That’s because they usually offer high-quality services compared to those who are just starting.
Those who are just starting usually have to earn their reputation first.
To get that reputation in place, they usually have cheaper prices to get people in the door.
As they start to establish their reputation for providing excellent service, they can then start to raise their prices.
The length of time working also impacts their prices.
Dentists who have been around for some time likely have a larger following of loyal patients than new dentists.
Since they have a large and loyal following, it means their services are in high demand.
They can only provide so much service on a given day.
They need time off as well.
As such, there’s a lot of demand for a limited amount of time.
Since there’s so much demand for their service, they can charge high prices.
A lot of experienced dentists usually end up choosing some sort of specialty, too.
For example, some might specialize in root canals while others might specialize in dental crowns.
Having that specialty also makes them expensive because it indicates that they offer high-quality service for that particular service.
They may have more advanced tools or just more experience with the service than others.
Since patients are likely going to receive better results through them, they’re willing to pay a higher price.
Dentists are expensive because of their experience levels.
3. Office Rent
One reason why dentists are expensive is that they have to pay rent or a mortgage.
A lot of patients don’t realize that dentists usually have to rent a space to have their office.
Others will buy a building or have a building built for their office.
Either way, they’re facing some expensive prices.
In the case of renting an office, dentists have to pay their landlords monthly.
If they can’t pay, they face the risk of losing their office.
The same goes for mortgage payments.
If they buy a building and can’t keep up with the payments, the office might get repossessed.
Rental prices can soar based on the location of the office.
They’re paying commercial rental prices and not residential prices.
As such, if their office is in an area that’s in high demand among businesses, they will have to pay a high amount of rent.
That’s because a lot of other buildings in the area also charge high rent.
It’s in high demand because it has a lot of foot traffic, which leads to an increased chance of making sales.
Since the dental office is right there in the thick of it all, renting the office becomes a major expense.
The same goes for buying a building in a high-demand area.
They may have high-interest rates or just high payments.
Either way, the dental office faces a major expense.
The only way to pay that rent or mortgage is by charging high prices for their services.
The costlier their rent is, the more expensive their services are likely to be.
That’s why you might find that some dentists who have their offices in more suburban or rural areas tend to be a bit cheaper.
Their rental prices aren’t quite as high.
Otherwise, some dentists are expensive because they face high rental costs.
4. Dental Staff Costs
Another big expense that dentists have to pay is to their dental staff.
When you walk into a dentist’s office, it’s very unlikely that it’s only going to be the dentist there.
Most dental offices have several people working in them.
One such employee is the receptionist.
This is the person that you usually see first thing in a dental office.
Depending on how busy the office is, there may be one or two receptionists manning the desk.
They help check in patients, schedule appointments, and handle insurance.
Right off the bat, that’s one or two workers that require wages from the office.
Then the dentist usually has some assistants.
The more assistants they have, the more patients they can usually serve daily.
That’s because dental assistants usually do the grunt work.
They’ll perform the cleanings, X-Rays, and general care.
The dentist then comes in for either a final check or to perform a more advanced service.
Since dental offices need to make a profit, there’s a fine balance between how many assistants they can have and their revenue.
Having too many assistants, for example, can make their labor expenses too high.
As a result, the dental office doesn’t make enough money to stay profitable.
While dentists are there to help keep your teeth healthy, they’re also there to make money.
If the dental office isn’t profitable enough, they might close up shop or try somewhere else.
Labor expenses play a major part in determining a dental office’s prices.
If they have high labor expenses, they’re likely going to charge higher prices.
Dentists are expensive because of the number of staff that they need to pay.
5. Health Insurance Costs
Another big reason dentists are expensive is that they have to pay their own health insurance and insurance costs.
Since dentists involve themselves with delicate surgeries, they usually have some sort of insurance policy.
If anything happens during a particular service or surgery, they know that their insurance will likely cover it.
For example, if a dentist makes a mistake and ends up causing more harm than good, there’s always a chance that the patient might sue them.
Their insurance policy can help protect them and ensure the business doesn’t go under.
That said, such insurance policies usually are quite expensive.
Dental offices have to pay high premiums to ensure they remain covered, which cuts into their revenue.
Then there’s the payment for health insurance plans.
Like other businesses, dental offices usually offer their assistants and receptionists a health insurance plan.
It helps entice high-quality workers to their offices.
Since dentists are, themselves, part of healthcare, it only makes sense that they’d offer great health insurance, too.
Those health insurance policies are also quite expensive.
Dental offices end up having to pay a few premiums to keep them active.
There may be any number of other insurance policies that they also pay.
Like any other business, dental offices need to ensure they’re protected.
Unfortunately, that also usually means they’re paying higher costs.
To cover those costs, they have to charge high prices for their services.
6. Expensive Materials For Services
Dentists are also expensive because they have to pay for expensive materials to provide certain services.
The most common example is dental crowns.
Dentists that have their own labs, for example, usually need to import certain materials to make their crowns.
The most common types of materials used to make dental crowns include:
- Stainless Steel
- Composite Resin
Even if the dentist doesn’t have their own lab, it means they’re going to be ordering those crowns from a dental lab.
The dental lab will then need to get those materials and pass the cost to the dentist who buys them from them.
The dentist then passes the cost to the patient.
Certain materials are going to be more expensive than others.
Gold, for example, is a precious metal.
Since you have to pay a high value based on how much gold is in the crown, you could end up with a very expensive crown.
That’s also why some criminals will remove golden tooths from their victims.
They can get a decent amount of money from them.
Porcelain is another slightly expensive material.
It’s also the most common type of material used to make dental crowns.
That’s because porcelain is incredibly strong.
There’s little risk of someone biting down against them and having the crown crack.
Another great aspect of porcelain is that its color matches the color of teeth more closely.
It’s less obvious that you have a crown on one of your teeth.
For a lot of people who are anxious about their smile, having a dental crown that blends in with the rest of their teeth is important.
Since these materials cost money, however, it means that patients are going to face higher prices when they receive dental crown work.
They’ll be paying not only for the material of the crown, itself but also for any associated labor from the dental lab and the dentist.
That makes the service pretty expensive.
7. In-House Lab Work
Some dentists have their own labs in their offices.
This makes them more expensive because it means they take on far more costs.
They have to buy materials, tools, and other equipment to run the lab.
If they don’t have experience in making certain products themselves, it means they also have to hire a few more employees to run the lab.
The benefit of having their own lab is that it makes their services faster.
Dentists that rely on an outside lab usually end up waiting in a queue.
The lab will get to their order as soon as they finish any orders that came before them.
That could add a few days to their service.
Meanwhile, the patient has to wait.
By having their own lab, the dentist doesn’t have to wait at all.
They can put the order into their own lab and have the product they need by the next day if not later that day.
This speeds up their services which usually means faster relief for their patients.
It’s more convenient for patients, but it also means they usually pay more for their services.
They have to help cover the added costs that the dentist has accrued by having a dental lab in their office.
They’re also essentially paying for faster service as well.
It’s something that not every dentist can offer.
Dentists are expensive when they have their own in-house dental lab.
8. Dental Insurance Doesn’t Cover Much
Another reason dentists are expensive has to do with your dental insurance.
The problem with dental insurance is that not every service is always covered.
Typically, the more expensive your dental insurance is, the more services they offer.
Of course, that isn’t always the case.
As such, you might find yourself paying for some expensive procedures like dental crowns entirely on your own.
Dental insurance also has deductibles and annual maximums.
If you exceed your maximum, then the insurance won’t cover any future services you receive until the start of the next year.
This makes dentists expensive because you end up paying for most of the services on your own, anyway.
9. Few Dental Offices In Your Area
You might also find dentists are expensive if there are few dental offices in your area.
In some locations, you may have tons of different dental offices scattered within a few miles of each other.
In other areas, you may have one dental office for several miles.
This impacts the price as well.
When there are fewer dentists in an area, there’s more demand for their services with a smaller supply.
They have to treat a large number of patients but only have so many hours in which to do so.
Because the demand for their services is so high, they charge higher rates.
Dentists that operate in an area with a lot of other dentists around might have cheaper prices because they’re competing with one another for patients.
Dentists are expensive when there are only a few of them around in an area.
10. Service Complexity
A final reason why dentists are expensive is when you need a complex service such as some sort of advanced surgery like a root canal or a dental crown.
These are procedures that specialists usually handle.
They have a lot of experience and the right tools and equipment to get the job done fast and well.
You benefit by receiving a high-quality service.
It usually means the results are better or that you’ll heal faster.
The more complex the service is, the more expensive it’s going to be.
It also usually means it takes a longer time, too.
Since the dentist is spending more time on you, they’re going to charge you for it.
Dentists are expensive when you need advanced surgery or services.
Seeing the dentist is a mandatory part of maintaining good oral health.
However, due to complex surgeries, material costs, and staffing costs, visiting a dentist can be quite expensive.