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why are dentists so expensive

Why Are Dentists So Expensive?

Normal dental work and checkups can be quite expensive. A simple teeth cleaning can cost $90-$300, not to mention x-rays and the occasional filling. This is an expense many people cannot afford or prefer to avoid. 

Avoiding preventative measures, however, can doom patients to incredibly expensive procedures in the future, like crowns, bridges, and the ever-dreaded root canal. All this explains why thousands of people search online every day, trying to find an affordable dentist.

But why are dentists so expensive in the first place? Why does something as necessary as oral health have to break the bank? There are many reasons for this issue and several steps people are taking to make their care more affordable.  

The High Cost of Being A Dentist

frustrated-student

It is easy to demonize dentists for the high fees they charge to their patients. We typically imagine them pocketing the entire bill and spending it on a fancy new car or luxury vacation. Some dentists are in fact, scam artists and have predatory pricing practices. But the reality for most dentists is that being a dentist in itself is expensive. 

Why Are Dentists So Expensive?

High Dental School Fees

The cost of going to dental school has doubled since the 1990's. This has left many young dental school graduates in over $200,000 of debt starting out. This dauting debt will hinder young dentists from earning a good living for several years. 

Like all education, costs have grown and grown. In the past, students could quickly pay off the cost of an education, but today, crippling debts are the norm. This is the first of many changes driving up the cost of dental work. 

Why Are Dentists So Expensive?

High Starting Costs

It costs quite a bit to run a dental practice. Starting costs will include office necessities and a ton of expensive dental equipment. High-end dentist chairs can cost $10,000 or more! The sum of these start-up costs is generally estimated to be as high as $500,000! 

Dental technology requires a lot of research and development and is in an extremely niche market. To be able to develop the state-of-the-art technology that is now the norm, dental equipment companies have to charge a high premium. 

Dental technology wasn't always so advanced. The cost of this advancement trickles down to the patient sitting in the fancy (and expensive) dentist chair. 

Why Are Dentists So Expensive?

High Operating Expenses

Dental offices have to pay rent costs and they have to have multiple staff on hand. There typically are receptionists, dental hygienists, and possibly other specialists who all have salaries that must be paid. 

Gone are the days where a single dentist would set up his practice and operate it alone. The world has shifted and the demands of operating a modern practice are much higher. 

expensive-dentist-with-patient

Why Are Dentists So Expensive?

High Marketing Expenses

Dentists are retiring later and later in life, but new dentists are still entering the market at the same rate. Some markets now have too many dentists and they are having to compete more and more for each patient's business. This means they have to add marketing expenses to their budget which also drives up the price of dental work for the patient. 

In the past, dentists were able to simply open their practices and it was reasonable to expect a steady stream of patients through the door (as long as they were good dentists). The necessity of marketing is a new, expensive, and unfortunate phenomenon dentist have to navigate.

Why Are Dentists So Expensive?

Insurance Doesn't Help Much

Even though medical services in non-dental fields are often just as expensive as dental work is, patients are often shielded from the realities of these expenses, thanks to their standard health insurance plans. 

People with health insurance often pay an affordable co-pay and are unaware of what the medical professional actually charges. 

Dental insurance, on the other hand, does much less. It often only covers the cost of annual cleanings, some fillings, and just a portion of more expensive procedures. 

Often, when a patient needs extensive work, dental insurance doesn't help much. Many people don't have dental insurance because of this.  A typical result is simply not going to the dentist, even though dealing with dental issues can be extremely necessary and avoiding treatment can be intensely painful and even deadly. 

Possible Solutions

Ask Questions

Don't hesitate to ask a dentist if there are cheaper options. Often you can avoid certain costs upon request, like bi-annual x-rays or deep cleanings. 

Also, you don't have to accept everything a dentist says at face value. After a diagnosis, go home and research the prescribed procedure. You can also get a second opinion or second quote that may be cheaper. 

Dental Schools

Dental schools, while expensive for students studying dentistry, can be quite cheap for patients. Dental schools often offer procedures at discounted rates.

Dental students will do procedures under the supervision of more seasoned teachers. The work is often quite good but can take longer than a traditional dentist since the students are inexperienced and still learning. 

Dental Tourism

The interesting phenomenon known as dental tourism has become popular as dentists in the US (and Europe and Australia) have become unbearably expensive. 

Patients will travel to countries to get procedures done at much more affordable prices. Incredibly, the cost of traveling and the foreign procedure is often cheaper than when procedures are done domestically. 

This can be a good option for some people but there are many horror stories about botched procedures and crooked foreign dentists operating on tourists in unsanitized hotel rooms. 

Brighter Image Lab

Brighter Image Lab is a great option for cosmetic dental solutions, and it's especially great for those who wish to avoid the dental office altogether! 

This lab offers removable dental veneers without having to go through a dentist. Clients simply make their own dental impressions from a home-delivered kit. After sending their impressions back to the lab, the lab's talented smile designers create thin dental veneer arches that clip on perfectly into place. 

Clients are able to cover up large cosmetic issues like stains, crooked teeth, or even teeth that are missing all together. 

Many people are candidates for these dental veneers. Take the quiz below to see if they would work for you!

Smile Assessment Quiz

Final Thoughts

Now that you have some clearer insights into the question, "Why are dentists so expensive?", you now know a bit more about what to expect. You also now know more about the inexpensive solutions offered here at Brighter Image Lab.

Make wise decisions about your oral healthcare moving forward, and be sure to do a lot of research before making expensive decisions. 

The Decline of Dental Care in America

Picture the ideal “American dream” family. A father with a job that pays well, a nurturing mother, and their 2.5 children. This family has the time and money to schedule all of their necessary dental care.

In this reality, the father’s job probably has excellent benefits that include dental insurance. The mother will take the children to their dentist appointments. The children grow up with the assurance of regular dental care. The kind of care that provides braces to fix any issues with their smile.

This upper middle-class family with already perfect teeth easily makes the recommended bi-annual trips to the dentist for upkeep. Unfortunately, this is not an actuality for the majority of families. Many poor and lower-middle-class families do not receive adequate dental care, in part because most dentists want customers who can pay cash or have private dental insurance.

This prevalent problem raises the following question. Is the dentist in the habit of helping people, or in the business of making money? Look at the following statistics and decide for yourself.

The Cost of Dental Care in America

cost of dental care in america

Dentist fees have risen much faster than inflation. In real dollars, the cost of the average dental procedures rose 25% from 1996 to 2004.


In addition, dentists’ incomes have grown much faster than that of the typical worker. American dentists in general practice made an average salary of $164,570 in 2012. In contrast, the average salary among the general public was $51,017 that same year.

The American Dental Association believes this imbalance comes from a shortage of dentists. However, we believe the true problem stems from dentists unwillingness to practice in areas where they are needed.

Dentists have a disproportionate presence in affluent suburbs. However, those who are most in need of care are concentrated in inner cities and rural communities. As many as 130 million Americans do not have dental insurance coverage. Some of those have to use Medicaid to even gain access to dental care.

dental insurance coverage

The State of Dental Care in America

Unfortunately, only about 20% of the nation’s practicing dentists provide care to people with Medicaid. Of those who do, only a small percentage primarily serve the poor, chronically ill, or rural communities.

The “typical” family referenced earlier is merely a fantasy for the majority of hard-working people. Taking care of a family doesn’t afford regular dental visits, much less any sort of cosmetic dentistry.

Those who can afford dental care don’t need it. Those who need dental care can’t afford it, and as a result, may be in desperate need of an affordable dentist.

Affordable Dental Choices are Available

Brighter Image Lab has been providing an affordable dental choice with their Press On Veneers since 2010, and BILVeneers was introduced in 2017.

Affordable Dental Choice (That Doesn’t Involve A Dentist)

Lack of an Affordable Dental Choice

Every day we are confronted with numerous choices: Get up bright and early or hit the snooze button? Healthy lunch or fast food? This got my office to questioning, why is there not an affordable dental choice?

When your teeth are bad you go to a dentist. Simple, right? Yes, quite simple – if you have access to a dentist office and the often thousands of dollars associated with fixing your teeth.

One could argue that those with bad teeth who don’t have a great deal of disposable income do have an affordable dental choice – stop smiling. We simply aren’t willing to accept that.

The many reasons why teeth deteriorate, are due to: genetics, accidents, poor oral health, and sometimes -- a lack of access to an affordable dentist.

No Affordable Choice Perpetuates a Bad Smile

Imagine a single mother born with crooked teeth. Her family wasn’t able to afford braces, and really had no dental choice. Now that she’s a mother herself, any money she may have leftover is going towards her children.

This woman mostly likely An affordable dental choice doesn't involve the dentist doesn’t have the $10,000 necessary to go to the dentist and get her smile fixed.

Until Brighter Image Lab recently created Press On Veneers, she hasn’t had any affordable dental choices besides strained, close-lipped smiles.

Let’s face it: your smile says a lot about you. We live a world where people are striving to be a “perfect 10”, therefore, there is a lot of judgment. A nice smile is the best way to make an excellent first impression.

The Absence of Choice is Costly

Having a substandard smile truly can hold you back in life. As a result of a bad smile, a less qualified candidate may receive the promotion you deserve. You may not receive deserved recognition, or you may feel unable to date the person of your dreams.

The lack of affordable dental choices has some calling beautiful smiles – “million dollar smiles.”

Studies have shown that people with less than desirable smiles earn over $1,000,000 less in household income over their lifetime than those with attractive smiles. Take heart - now there is an affordable dental choice!

Affordable Dental Choice

Brighter Image Lab is the Affordable Dental Choice

In conclusion, the answer is not more dentists. The answer is more dental choice. Consequently, Brighter Image Lab is proud to offer an affordable dental choice with Press On Veneers™.