Dentist Appointments: No-Shows Must Pay Anyway

Dentist missed appointment feesMissed dentist appointment fees have recently made headlines, with one Canadian man complaining loudly about a $400 cancellation charge.

Many dentists charge patients missed appointment fees. Typically, these fees tend to be about $25-50 per appointment. But there’s a lot more variation than you might expect!

A recent survey we conducted showed that an average of 1 in 10 patients is a no-show. That’s a 10% reduction in dental practice profitability, and a serious dental management issue.

The $400 missed appointment fee

Roland Ikporo’s son got a toothache last month, but their family dentist was closed. So he took his son instead to Calgary’s Expressions Dental clinic.

The dentist there conducted an exam and took x-rays at a cost of $150. He told Ikporo that his son needed 4 teeth removed right away. So Ikporo made another appointment for two days later.

But within an hour, Ikporo cancelled the appointment, realizing that his general dentist would be cheaper. (While Expressions Dental would charge $1,700 to remove the four teeth, the dental work was only $800 from their regular dentist.)

Though called the dentist office to cancel the appointment less than an hour after he made it, his Visa was billed an additional $400 missed dentist appointment fee.

Ikporo had in fact signed a consent form that explained the clinic’s cancellation policy: give 72 hours notice or be charged $200 per hour of missed appointment time. So by booking an appointment less than 3 days in the future, Ikporo had no ability to cancel.

Angry, Ikporo has registered a complaint with the Alberta Dental Association and College. They are now investigating.

Just an observation: Even if he pays the $400 fee, Ikporo will still have saved money by having his family dentist perform the extractions… The general dentist‘s $800 fee plus the $400 cancellation charge is still significantly less than the $1,700 quoted by the dental clinic.

What’s your policy?

Many dentists find that a $20 cancellation charge just doesn’t get the job done. How does your practice handle no-shows?

Read more: Father angry over $400 dentist cancellation charge

Root Canal Cost: $1,000 per Molar

cost of root canal therapyThis survey found the average root canal fee is $740 for a front tooth and $1,000 for a molar, with three out of four dentists saying they perform posterior root canals.

“Root canals are the most predictable and profitable procedure in dentistry,” said one. “Dentists who do not do endodontics lose on the average $90,000.”

Cost of root canal therapyRoot canal therapy costs somewhat more from endodontists than from general dentists, especially on posterior teeth. Of course, an endodontist is will perform a difficult root canal, while a general dentist might refer out that endodontic procedure.

How much a root canal costs depends on where you live; dentists in the Pacific states reported charging the most.

In fact, a simple root canal on a front tooth may cost more in the Pacific than a more difficult molar root canal in many other areas, including the Northeast.root canal fees

Here are some dentist comment about root canals:

  • “I’ve been a DDS full time for 25 years and I have not done a root canal in over 14 years… I have never been happier than since I was told by a dental consultant: what would you rather do on a Saturday morning, play golf or do a root canal?” (Utah dentist)
  • “More GPs should do their own endo.” (Florida dentist)
  • “Root canal therapy is a big money maker. It’s a great way to beef up the bottom line.” (California dentist)
  • “Root canals are the most predictable and profitable procedure in dentistry. Dentists who do not do endo lose on the average $90,000.” (Virginia dentist)
  • “Your fee should represent what it would cost to replace the tooth if it were lost.” (Maryland dentist)
  • “Natural teeth are better than fake ones (dentures or implants).” (West Virginia endodontist)

Read more: How Much Root Canals Cost from Dentists and Endodontists

Sleep Apnea Patient Value Averages $2,400

Sleep apnea and snoring treatment from dentistsJust under half of dentists responding to this survey say they treat sleep apnea.

Those who offer sleep apnea treatment say the average sleep apnea patient is worth about $2,400 in the first 9 months.

Specialists in this survey were far more likely than general dentists to treat snoring and sleep apnea.dentists and sleep apnea treatment

Dentists were split right down the middle when it comes to screening dental patients for sleep problems. Half said they do, and half said they don’t.

“I wish everyone screened for this, and every course I teach emphasizes this,” said one doc.

Here are some other comments:

  • “I see a couple of hundred sleep patients yearly. Patient value averages $3000-3500 on sleep, but they also lead to many TMJ cases as well as full-mouth reconstructions.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “I include specific screening questions in my health history.” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “If you are treating sleep apnea you need to be well-versed and have networks with local physicians established.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “Sleep studies need to be done on moderate and severe cases.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • “Very hard to get insurance coverage. Very successful treatment.” (California orthodontist)

Read more: Sleep Apnea Treatment from Dentists

Cost of a Dental Implant and Crown? About $3200

Cost of dental implant and crownHow much does a dental implant plus crown cost? In this survey, the average total was about $3,200. That breaks down to $1,800 for the dental implant, $1,400 for the crown, and an additional $600 for a custom abutment.

“Implant fees are too high,” complained one dentist.

“From a patient management perspective, charging a separate fee for an abutment is much more agreeable to the patient than charging a higher fee for an implant crown,” said a prosthodontist. “My fee for an implant crown and a conventional ‘tooth crown’ is the same.”

Here are some other comments from dentists:

  • “Why is there a company in my area that advertises $595 to place an implant? My cost for the implant fixture alone is $300!” (New York dentist)
  • “I’m working in India, and hence even these charges are high for round here!” (India oral surgeon charging $500 for the implant and $500 for the crown)
  • “Implant fees are the biggest objection point to my patients. I personally do not place implants but the specialist that do for me are charging $2000 for each implant.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “I never seem to cover the lab fees well enough.” (Georgia dentist)

Read more: Cost of Dental Implant and Associated Dental Crown

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