I got a root canal in Peru. Yes, it’s a story for my grandchildren… not really. It is the simple fact that I can’t actually afford dental care in the US, even when I had insurance! You can learn more about the root canal(‘endodontic therapy’) process on Wikipedia (I trust Wikipedia for non-partisan things of this nature).
Two years ago, I had a full-time job at a local non-profit, which included dental insurance. I’m very good at my dental care at home, and I take my 6-month visits very seriously. I think I might have missed only one in the last ten years, even when I didn’t have insurance. When I had insurance, they told me I grind my teeth at night and need to get an occlusal guard for when I sleep… for $600! And my insurance covered… 0%. Great.
Well, after the insurance ran out and I was a student again (in, ahem, public health), I was back in the no-dental-insurance club. Naturally, that’s when it was discovered that I needed to replace some old fillings… for something like $250. Too much for a poor student! When I got here to Peru, I ended up getting X-rays to see how close the fillings had decayed to the tooth nerves and it was not good. Time for a root canal!
I ended up getting the following: one crown, two fillings, one occlusal guard, and one root canal. At my dentist in Ann Arbor, this would have come to $2,388 out-of-pocket. Here in Lima, it was s./1795 (currency is nuevo soles, about s./3 = $1) which is about $600. This is a 75% discount! What makes it so expensive in the US? The dentist who specialized in root canals was trained in Canada! I’m sure he has tons of debt from it, which he must pay off. Yet it still costs 75% less. Why?