World Oral Health Day: Consumers report huge variation in prices for dental services: 3 in 4 surveyed want Government to make it mandatory for dentists to prominently display prices for common treatments
- ● Consumer report prices of fillings range from INR 100 - 6000 while prices for root canal treatment (RCT) range from INR 500 – 15,000
- ● Findings indicate that if treatment prices were transparent and standardised, more people are likely to take care of oral health on a preventive basis
March 20, 2023, New Delhi: As we mark the World Oral Health Day it is important to remember and practice one of the important lessons of childhood - the need to properly brush your teeth twice a day and rinse your mouth after a meal. Along with this healthy habit, there is the need to regularly have oral health checkups and timely treatments as it can help ward off lots of ills as researchers have found there's a synergic relationship between oral health and overall wellness.
In an ideal situation, more Indians would be going to Government hospitals or private clinics for regular oral check-ups if it was feasible or people understood the importance of doing so. Unfortunately, this is not the case as most people, not just in rural areas, don’t give oral health issues much importance unless they are in pain or they have problems while eating or swallowing something. One big issue that citizens have highlighted on LocalCircles are the unknowns around cost of dental treatments. As a result, LocalCircles attempted to understand what it costs across the nation for common treatments like filings and root canal (RCT) and whether people desired better pricing disclosures. Over 36,000 responses were received in the survey from citizens residing in 317 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 41% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 26% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
1 in 3 Indians surveyed pay over INR 3000 for a tooth filing; Prices range from INR 100-6000 per tooth with no clarity to consumer
The first survey question attempted to understand prices for tooth filings. It asked respondents, “How much did your dentist charge per filling (most recently) when you or your family member went for a tooth filling in the last five years?” 33% of the respondents stated over INR 3000, 15% stated between INR 2000-3000, 17% paid between INR 1500 – 2000 and 11% between INR 1000-1500. The 12,178 who respondents to the question also included 7% who had paid between INR 800-1000, another 6% INR 500-800, 7% more who had paid INR 300-500 and 4% who had paid as little as INR 100-300. The wide difference in the rates charged may be seen as an indication of the wide disparity for the same procedure.
1 in 3 Indians surveyed pay over INR 10000 for a root canal treatment; Prices range from INR 500-15,000 per tooth with no clarity to consumer
The next question in the survey focusing on prices of root canal treatment asked respondents, “How much did your dentist charge per root canal treatment (most recently) when you or your family member went for it in the last 5 years?” One in three respondents stated they paid over INR 10,000, 6% stated INR 8000-10,000, 12% INR 5000 to 8000, 21% between INR 3000-5 000, 14% INR 2000-3000. There were also 5% out of 12,202 respondents who had paid INR 1500 – 2000, 6% between INR 500 – 1500 and 3% who did not give any clear answer. Again, the wide range in charges leaves consumers baffled about why there is such a wide difference in cost of the same procedure.
Given the high variance in charges for dental services across India, 3 in 4 surveyed want dentists to mandatorily display prices for commonly availed treatments
Based on the first two findings, hundreds of citizens engaged in community discussion on the subject on LocalCircles indicating that price uncertainty with the dentist was a major concern why many times they avoid visiting the dentist. To find a way forward, the next question in the survey asked respondents, “Would it be helpful if your dentist had a price list for all commonly availed treatments displayed prominently in their clinic or it was shared upfront with the customers?” In response, 75% out of 11,739 respondents stated that their dentist “does not have this and it must be done”, while 25% shared that while their dentist does not display the rates charged they felt “it is not needed”. As the overwhelming response of consumers is in favour of dentists displaying rates of the various treatment shows, there is need for more transparency on the side of dentists, whether working out of their clinics or hospitals.
In summary, the survey validates a concern of the people about huge variation in prices for dental treatments and lack of certainty around pricing and upfront price disclosures, at least for commonly availed treatments like filings and root canals. A filling, as found by the survey, costs anywhere from INR 100-5000 while a root canal can cost anywhere from INR 500 – 15000. Hundreds of citizens participated in a community discussion citing that they would visit their dentist for more preventive treatment had there been price certainty. As a way forward, 3 out of 4 consumers want that the Government make it mandatory for all dentists to display prices of commonly availed dental treatments. While this may seem uncomfortable to many dentists, it would surely increase consumers’ confidence and encourage more Indians to avail of dental treatment on a preventive basis rather than when they are in pain, which in most cases is too late.
Over 36,000 responses were received from citizens residing in 317 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 41% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 26% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.