Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mouth of Gold

Your mouth is worth GOLD!!!!
Having just completed my first root canal on a crowned tooth (#19 left bottom molar) that I had been having trouble with since July 2010, I cringed as I paid $960 for the root canal specialist (called an endodontist  - by the way, why dontist vs dentist?).  Then I returned to my dentist to pay an additional $375 to have it sealed correctly with proper "sanding" for my overbite grinding action. 

Susan just had three teeth reworked and is still pondering a potential implant.  In just three short years she is up to more than $8K.  My total cost for just one molar is $2,500 (Crown, Emergency Visit, New Dentist Cleaning, Root Canal, and Final Seal).

When you add up a lifetime of cleaning, an average number of cavities, wisdom teeth extracted, braces for those with crooked teeth, and then crowns, root canals, bridges, and special gum treatment, you can see why dentistry is a good occupation (and probably slightly recession proof). 

A 2003 report from the Data and Analysis Center (DAC), the nation’s largest claims-based dental health data warehouse, found that the average cost to maintain a restored cavity in the molar of a 10-year old reaches $2,187 by age 79.
According to the study, over a person’s lifetime it costs $1,788 to maintain a single filling on an anterior tooth (front teeth) and $2,108 to maintain one in a premolar (back teeth).

So lets due the math.  Your mouth has 32 teeth ( 20 are front teeth - Inscisors, Cuspids and Bicuspids and 12 are back teeth - molars and wisdom). 

The CDC uses DFMT (Decayed, Filled or Missing Teeth) Index and from their report I'm going to estimate a typical person has 15 teeth in trouble. 

Use an average of $2000 per tooth restoration and you get $30K for just the repair.  Add to that six month clean ups for 70+ years (between $50 to $135 per cleaning) and is an additional $14K.  Then add the intial filling cost ($150 for composite) of the 15 cavities of $2,000.  You're total is at least $46K.

So the average well cared for mouth will be worth at least 30 ounces of Gold  (some of which will literally be in your mouth) by age 80.

Now that should be incentive to brush multiple times a day! 


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