How Much Does It Cost ?

I recently had the opportunity to explain the meaning of “cost” to a patient of mine.  Crystal called the office and asked a question on her friend’s behalf.

Crystal:  Dr. Nguyen, my friend got charged $500 for deep cleaning.  Is that expensive?  How much does it cost?

Alex:  I don’t know…  What did your friend’s dentist do for her?

Crystal :  Well… he put some numbing gel on the teeth that were sensitive, and then he cleaned her teeth for about an hour.  When he was done… he told my friend that she just had a full mouth deep cleaning done, and the receptionist asked her to pay $500.

Alex:  I see.  Here is what I do in my office… The mouth is divided into 4 quadrants.  Each quadrant is charged separately…

Crystal:  So how do you do your deep cleaning sequence?

Alex:  Ok … so typically we do 2 quadrants at a time.  In 2 appointments we can do the entire mouth.  Then, we need another appointment to follow up with a complete cleaning and evaluation.

Crystal:  Ohhhh.  So you actually spend 3 times as long as what my friend had just experienced.  But wait… If that guy charged $500 for one hour worth of work, then if he were to do exactly what you do… in three appointments, then his costs would actually be $1500… which would make it way more expensive then your over all fee for your 3 appointments for deep cleaning.

Alex:  Well…You do the math.  My job is to do the dentistry.

The message to take home is:  You will not get a fair answer for “How much does it cost?” without asking “How will it be done?” and “What will be done?” and “Why is it being done”.  Furthermore, the last thing you want to do is to call up an office, ask how much things cost, and make a decision to choose your dentist based on simply … Cost .


Alex Nguyen, DDS is a Saratoga Dentist who practices General Dentistry, Cosmetic, and Implant Dentistry. For over 20 years the practice has been serving the residents of Santa Clara County and San Francisco Bay Area.

About alexnguyen

My career passion is to help enhance, restore, and preserve people's smiles View all posts by alexnguyen

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