Many people are shocked by the cost of dentistry, especially if they need extensive work done. There are many reasons why it costs so much. First, dental school is expensive. The tuition alone for USC Dental School, for example, is $65,000 per year, and that's for three years. And before your first meal or your first book.
The dental office also requires much more equipment than the average medical office. X-ray machines, special chairs, a variety of handpieces, and then water, vacuum (for suction), electricity, computer cables and sometimes nitrous oxide all have to be set up for each room and each chair. The cabinetry is very involved, and then each dentist's office requires a lab and a sterilization area. And that's just a basic office. Many offices have a variety of new technologies to make your dental experience go better and faster and to improve the quality of the dentistry done.
But most of all, the goal of dentistry is to restore your mouth to its optimum level, which means straight, healthy teeth and gums. Dentists deal with a combination of both extremely soft tissue (gums) and the hardest bone in the body, tooth enamel. Imagine how challenging that is. And they need to be very precise in how they repair teeth, dealing in fractions of a millimeter, so that there will be no openings that allow the tooth to decay below the crown, for example.
Think of how much teeth have to endure. The jaw muscles are extremely powerful, and put tremendous pressure on the teeth from multiple angles. This means whatever a dentist does has to be stong and last a long time. There are few things in life that you could repair that would last twenty years or longer, but dentists do that kind of work every day.
Lastly, dentistry seems expensive because even if you have dental insurance, it doesn't really cover much most of the time. It's designed to cover basic care, and the insurance companies are very slow to add new treatments and procedures that they will cover, even if they are found to improve the patient's health. So many times the patient is the one making up the difference in cost in order to get the kind of dentistry that lasts.
And no matter what you'll be doing twenty years from now, I guarantee you'll be eating. And you'll no doubt want to do it with your own teeth. So if it seems expensive, think about the other things that you spend money on. Do they give you a twenty year value? Will you still be using them every day during those 20 years? So in the end, taking care of your teeth is an extremely good value. It may seem expensive, but for the use you get out of your teeth, and the lasting quality of good dentistry, it's probably more than worth the money. In, fact, I think it's one of the best investments you can make.