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Maybe it’s because the cost of regular health care in this country is hidden. But dental care seems ridiculously expensive.

I’m getting my second dental implant next week. My first implant is my favorite tooth. I never had a favorite tooth before. But it’s so strong and unaffected by anything. It’s the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of teeth. I had to get it when a bite of a caramel apple at the Western Fair took my veneer with down it. It was a “smile” tooth, as evidenced by this photo from our trip to Iceland when I was so tired/happy after our red-eye flight, I forgot about the gap.

Derek and I in a selfie in front of the Blue Lagoon, Iceland sign, with my obvious tooth gap in a wide smile.
The implant was put in later in 2016.

The Current Gap

Once again, I’ve been reluctant to smile in photos because of the hole at the edge of my smile. To me, there’s a neon arrow pointing from the sky to the dark space where the tooth used to be. Deep down, I’m pretty sure no one else notices. But it makes me self-conscious. I can tell when I’m trying to cover it up. Unfortunately, the result is sometimes a little comical, like this picture from my Aunt Alice’s recent 80th birthday party.

I'm smiling with my mouth just a little bit open and all you can see are three little teeth. It looks like I might not have front teeth at all.
It looks like I’m trying to cover up missing front teeth!!

An implant costs about the same as an average month’s rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Toronto. As self-employed people, we don’t have any coverage for dental work. I could have gotten an implant in Mexico last year for a fraction of what I’m about to pay. Many people do it. It’s called “medical tourism”. Mexico’s standards of care are apparently very high. But even though I’m being gouged, I also believe in shopping at home. Am I nuts? I also don’t personally know anyone who has gone outside of Canada for their dental work.

However, when you get the estimate it’s tempting to say, yank the damn things out and be done with it! But that’s a little over the top, especially when the majority of your chompers are just fine.

Love Thy Dentist

My dentist is terrific. She’s relaxed and easy to talk to. Her hygienist is wonderful, too. I get my revenge by discussing fees in terms of “BMW payments” or “college tuition for your kids”. Her education and running the clinic are expensive, I know that. But I also think she enjoys generous profit margins. So if I want to say with a wink and a smile, “Can I come along on this trip to Disney that I’m financing?”, she’s just going to have to live with that!

But seriously, I wrote a blog post involving her clinic a while back. We’re lucky to have such skilled, high-tech dental pros in our little village. Remind me of that when I pay for the tooth next week, will you? Because I don’t judge anyone for deciding to keep the gap. Filling it is a big expense for something you can get around with creative smiling and maybe eating dinner out of a blender.

4 thoughts on “That’s the Tooth”

  1. I believe dental pricing is governed within the province and there are set rates for everything not on a clinic by clinic bases. 4K for a dental implant is about the going rate.

    1. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. From the Ontario Dental Association:

      “Dentists are not required to follow the Guide or any fee schedule. They set their own fees based on the factors influencing their individual practice. This means that your dentist’s fees may vary both above and below the Guide.”

  2. I have a tooth that had a root canal many years ago. My highly trained Scottish dentist formed a tooth around what was left and it lasted over 13 years. When it decided to break off my now dentist tried the same thing to no avail. Now I carefully chew on the side until the inevitable 5k implant will be needed. I don’t have enough molars left to be able to live without it. Seniors, formerly self employed, no plan. There go the savings again.

  3. It is true that many Canadians and Americans come to Mexico to get their dental work done. I have met many people who book their dental visits around their vacations. I know where you are coming from. We don’t have dental insurance either. Ouch!! I am seriously in need of some work on my teeth but have been putting it off because of the high cost.

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