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A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR
AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW ARTICLE

Read Jacquie Hayes, of the AFR, interview Dr Kia Pajouhesh on dental costs "The Crowning Glory - 8 September 2012"

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Dental Costs

 

Enquiries call 13 13 96
A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR
AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW ARTICLE

Read Jacquie Hayes, of the AFR, interview Dr Kia Pajouhesh on dental costs "The Crowning Glory - 8 September 2012"

View Article

Dental Costs

 
 

The cost of dentistry rises every year. With inflation in the health sector being almost double that in the general sector, the rise is often disproportionate.

 

Quite rightly, patients are questioning the cost of various dental treatment modalities, seeking prices by telephone and visiting more than one clinic to canvass their options.
In my practice we consult thousands of new patients each year and we encounter the same type of cost-related questions over and over again.

To address some of the misconceptions commonly held, we would like to offer pointers on what to look out for when you're comparing dental prices and options available to you.

 

1. Always compare apples with apples.

 
Dental costs

Dental Board–registered specialists in various dental fields usually restrict their practices to one area of expertise.

They have generally spent many additional years in postgraduate education, and almost all general dentists and the Australian Dental Association consider them to be the peak group to address complex treatments in their specialities.

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2. Remember that background costs can vary greatly from clinician to clinician.

 

The most common background costs are as follows.

Laboratory fees – a porcelain crown or veneer fabricated for a patient can cost the dentist as little as $40 or up to $600. Dental laboratories vary enormously in price, depending on the country of origin of the restoration, the materials used, and (critically) the skill and experience levels of the technicians and ceramists.

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Dental costs
 

3. Be aware of the factors determining a practice's fees.

 
Dental costs

Rent – although it is commonly thought that more centrally located practices are more expensive because of their rent, the reality is that, in most cases, a very small proportion (often less than 3-4%) of the running costs of a dental practice derives from accommodation.

 

Skilled labour – by contrast with rent, the great majority (more than 55-60%) of the running costs of a dental practice derives from skilled labour.

 
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4. Travelling overseas for dental procedures

 

Dental tourism has been alive and well for decades.

Residents of developing countries leave home seeking higher quality dental care in the United States, Europe and Australia. In turn Americans, Europeans and Australians motivated by price are travelling to countries such as India, China and Thailand seeking dental treatment at substantially lower fees than those charged at home for seemingly comparable treatments.

 

Dental Costs

3. Be aware of the factors determining a practice's fees.

 
Dental costs

Rent - although it is commonly thought that more centrally located practices are more expensive because of their rent, the reality is that a very small proportion (often less than 2%) of the running costs of a dental practice derives from accommodation.

Skilled labour - by contrast with rent, the great majority (more than 55-60%) of the running costs of a dental practice derives from skilled labour.

 

In our industry, like in any other, the education and skill levels of the practitioners and their support team of administrators and nurses play a large role in determining fees.

Technology - modern technology comes at a substantial cost. Practices with more genuine technologically advanced equipment will often need to charge higher prices so as to afford the best treatment modalities available to you at any given time.

Dental Costs

1. Always compare apples with apples.

 
Dental costs

Dental Board - registered specialists in various dental fields usually restrict their practices to one area of expertise.

They've spent many additional years in postgraduate education, and almost all general dentists and the Australian Dental Association consider them to be the peak group to address complex treatments in their specialities.

 

So, when comparing prices, do make certain of the registration level of the practitioners; specialists may charge higher fees than general dentists, particularly when handling a more complicated case.

A clinician's experience in a specific field can vary greatly. Depending on the complexity of a case, more experience is advantageous and often comes at a higher price. Registered specialists, especially those with extensive experience, are best qualified to gauge the complexity of a case and hence quote accordingly. A lesser qualified clinician, especially one with limited experience, may underestimate the complexity of a case and underestimate cost accordingly. This can lead to disappointment for the patient when their expectations are not met. The patient may find eventually that the problem is not fixed (if they went ahead with the cheaper treatment) or that they in fact need to spend a lot more for the appropriate specialist treatment.

Never assume a particular clinician is a Board-registered specialist in any given field. It's not uncommon for junior associate dentists, dental assistants and reception staff to imply that their senior clinicians are "specialists", or even to refer to them as such, usually understanding neither the official industry definition of the title nor the implications of such an error. Always ask to be given a business card or title attached to an email that includes the word "specialist" to confirm the registration status of the practitioner. Or simply check for yourself on the AHPRA website.

View Dental Specialists in Australia video
Tips on Dental Tourism

Dental Costs

2. Remember that background costs can vary greatly from clinician to clinician.

 

The most common background costs are as follows.

Laboratory fees - a porcelain crown or veneer fabricated for a patient can cost the dentist as little as $40 or up to $600. Dental laboratories vary enormously in price, depending on the country of origin of the restoration, the materials used, and (critically) the skill and experience levels of the technicians and ceramists.

Dental costs
 

Some laboratories have head offices based locally but outsource work to third world countries in an effort to minimise costs.

 

If you are in doubt it is best to meet or contact the ceramist responsible for fabricating your porcelain crown, veneer, bridge or implant crown. This way, you can make sure your expectations are being met.

Without doubt, there is a demand in the community for budget dentistry. Of vital importance is that you are given every opportunity to make a fully informed choice, taking into account the implications, risk factors, and questionable longevity that budget dentistry often entails.

 

Materials fees - the materials used can vary in quality and price. Implant fixtures, for example, can cost as little as $80 or up to $500, depending on the quality, country of manufacture and scientific data backing the product.

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