How are dental fees determined?
Dentists are obligated to adhere to a high standard of dental care and must comply with strict statutory requirements designed to ensure the highest level of patient safety. Dentists are responsible for the costs related to operating a dental office.
Specialized equipment, products and materials used in dental treatment, the complexity of the treatment, sterilization and safety protocols, hiring trained and licensed staff and ongoing continuing education for the dental team, practice location and other overhead costs all factor into the cost of providing dental care.
Dentists have to consider all these factors when determining their fees. Operating costs will vary between dental offices as well as provincially.
Why are specialist fees higher?
Dental specialists receive additional training in a particular field of dentistry. They bring a high level of expertise to treatment provided within their specialty. General practice dentists will refer patients where a specialist's care is required.
Treatment provided within specialty fields is often highly technical and complex. It can involve the use of specialized equipment, materials required for treatment, additional staffing needs and ongoing education. All of these factors are considered by specialists when determining treatment costs.
Can I get an estimate for treatment before going to the dentist?
After a review of your medical history and discussion of any symptoms or concerns you might have, a dentist will conduct a thorough oral examination of the mouth to identify and diagnose any dental disease. If your dentist identifies an issue in your mouth, they will discuss this with you, along with their treatment recommendations.
Any treatment provided by a dentist is always patient-specific, based on individual patient requirements as a result of the examination and diagnosis made by the dentist. Oral health needs vary greatly between individuals and therefore, there is no average treatment.
Your dentist will work with you to review treatment alternatives and provide a cost estimate for the treatment plan before proceeding. The estimate can be influenced by the specific treatment options presented, further discussions related to materials, the extent of the care required, whether or not laboratory fees factor into care, etc. Note: A dentist can only provide an estimate of costs and patients should be made aware that costs may change when the actual treatment is performed. As with any medical-based procedure treatment planning can change over the course of treatment; this can have an influence on cost.
Can I get a second opinion; the cost estimate seems high?
It is important that you feel comfortable in proceeding with any dental treatment. Your dentist is there to support your health and answer any questions you may have, including why they are recommending the treatment presented and/or any related to cost.
If you are concerned with any factors relating to a proposed treatment plan, you are welcome to seek a second opinion. It is important to understand that there will be an additional cost associated with this as the second dentist will need to conduct an examination and consult with you to develop treatment options.
Questions you might ask your dentist:
• Why are they recommending the treatment options presented—what is/are the benefit/s to your oral/overall health?
• Are there alternative treatment options available?
• What are the implications of refusing or delaying treatment?
• Is there anything you can change in your mouth care to prevent similar issues in the future?
• What is required on my part to maintain the dental treatment recommended?
Why can't a dentist provide a second opinion without an examination?
In order to provide an opinion related to dental care, a dentist must understand all the factors that are influencing a patient's health. A diagnosis of therapy can only be arrived at by performing a thorough examination of the mouth to identify and diagnose any dental disease. See also: Can I get an estimate for treatment before going to the dentist?
Is dental treatment guaranteed?
While dentists are committed to delivering high quality dental care to their patients, dentistry cannot be guaranteed. To guarantee success is considered misleading and is contrary to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario’s Code of Ethics.
Is there anything I can do to limit the cost of dental care?
Prevention is the best way to maintain good dental health. Practice good dental habits at home: brush at least twice daily for two to three minutes; floss daily; limit sugary drinks and snacks; don't smoke; and visit your dentist for regular care including an examination. It is important to diagnose problems before they become more complex and costly. Dental disease is progressive and unlike a cold will not resolve itself. The cost of prevention is always far less than the cost of neglect.