You may find yourself confused about what major dental is and what is involved in these costly dental procedures.
Major dental treatment includes bridges, root canals, crowns, dentures, implants and surgical tooth removal. Let’s look at what is involved.
As the name suggests, a root canal is the repair of a tooth with problems deep into the root of the tooth. The damage to the canal might have been caused by decay, infection, or multiple fillings to the tooth.
Whatever the cause, the soft tissue and nerve in the deep canal of the tooth is dead. Root canal treatment involves drilling out the ‘dead pulp’ from the tooth canal in order to preserve the tooth in the gum. This treatment usually involves two appointments: one to drill, clean and temporarily fill the canal, the second to permanently ‘crown’ the top surface of the tooth and seal it.
A crown is a permanent, tooth-shaped cap on an existing tooth (or implant). Due to wear, weakness or damaged fillings, a crown is used to strengthen and protect the tooth. A crown can also be used cosmetically to enhance the appearance of a chipped or discoloured tooth, as well as to attach a bridge, or cap to a root canal.
The strongest crowns are made from gold, stainless steel and other metals. For colour-matching with front teeth, a crown will often be made from porcelain.
A dental bridge is a replacement tooth (or series of teeth) and is also known as a fixed partial denture. The bridge is secured to surrounding teeth and permanently cemented in place at the gum line. The artificial tooth in a bridge can be closely matched with existing teeth – it looks good, fills the gap and stops other teeth moving.
Removable dentures have come a long way from the ‘falsies’ constructed centuries ago from human or animal teeth. Set on a pink plate to match gum colour, dentures today are made from acrylic and look quite natural. They must be removed for cleaning and to rest the gums overnight. Removable complete dentures are usually recommended for people who have lost all or most of their natural teeth.
Dental implants involve the insertion of a titanium screw into the jawbone to act as a ‘root’ which is then capped with an artificial tooth. Implants are strong, look natural and are the popular alternative to dentures. They are also very expensive.
Financing major dental treatment
The cost of major dental work will vary depending on the number of teeth involved and the type of treatment. Saving a tooth by having a root canal can cost between $2000 and $3000. Extracting the tooth and replacing it with a dental implant could cost around $7000.
Medicare does not pay a benefit towards dental treatment. Quality extras cover will provide benefits for major dental – this amount will vary according to the level of cover and the insurer. But it’s likely you will still have a significant out-of-pocket expense.
Preventive dental means proactively caring for your teeth in order to keep them healthy. It’s all about taking steps to reduce the chance of needing fillings, cavities or other dental treatments.
Like anything, preventive dental saves you money over time. By making the effort to look after your teeth now, you’ll reduce the risk of requiring costly major dental procedures in the future.