Are Dental Fees Too High in Canada?



When people find out that I’m a dentist, they often ask me: why is dental work so expensive? Why is it so much cheaper to get a dental implant in Mexico?

As a person without dental benefits, I totally agree that dental treatment might be too expensive for some people that don’t have a dental benefits plan of some sort.

Let’s look at the cost of some dental treatments in Alberta as an example. Typically, if you’re taking good care of your teeth and have no issues, you would need to go the dentist’s at least twice a year:

  1. First Visit: a recall exam, X-rays  and a cleaning (cost is about C$ 300-350)
  2. Second visit (6 months later): a cleaning only (cost is about C$ 200-250)

The total is about C$ 500-600 for two hours time.If you happen to have a couple of cavities, that would typically take an hour and cost about C$ 400. This means that the clinic hourly rate is about C$ 300. This is actually how much you would pay ANY professional such as a lawyer, accountant, etc. per hour. In fact, a plumber or electrician would charge you that much for a job that takes under 30 minutes. Not to mention that cleaning your teeth or filling cavities is much more demanding physically and mentally for the dentist than punching in numbers into a computer.

It is true that there are some procedures that cost over a thousand dollars such as:

  1. Molar root canal: C$ 1000-15000
  2. Crown: C$ 1200-1500
  3. Implant with crown: C$ 4000-5000

However, those procedures take more time and skill.

To answer the Mexico questions, the cost of running a dental office in Alberta is definitely a lot higher than running a practice in Mexico due to:

  1. Much tougher regulations from Alberta Health and the provincial regulatory body.
  2. Higher cost of human resources: a dental assistant for example averages C$25 per hour in Alberta.
  3. Higher rent especially in high exposure retail locations: at least C$40 per sqft.
  4. Higher cost of equipment and materials.
  5. Higher cost of construction to begin with. In Alberta, leasehold improvements average C$ 150-250 per sqft.

There are a few entrepreneurial and investing dentists that are rich. However, the vast majority of dentists are in the middle class of society.

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