SINGAPORE: When Mr Lee found out how much a root canal treatment would cost him, his first thought was to extract the tooth.
“(When) they told me about the price, I was hesitant because it’s quite pricey,” said the 26-year-old, who only wanted to be known by his surname.
The wedding videographer first visited a neighbourhood dental clinic in Bedok in February after experiencing a “very bad” toothache.
Although the toothache began last year, it wasn’t until he was having a meal one day that the pain became so unbearable that he could not chew his food at all.
“It was so painful (until) I had quite a bad headache,” said Mr Lee. “That’s when I realised (I had) to go and check.”
The dentist he visited suggested two options: He could either extract the tooth or get a root canal treatment. The procedure involves disinfecting and cleaning the root canal space and filling it up to prevent reinfection.
“A lot of people decide to pluck (their teeth) because they know the root canal is going to be really expensive,” Mr Lee told CNA.
In his case, the dentist told him the tooth “could still be saved”. He advised Mr Lee to go ahead with the root canal as he was still young and the affected tooth was located at the back of the mouth and is important for chewing.
Mr Lee took the advice and got his X-rays done at a neighbourhood clinic. The next day, he had his first root canal treatment at Royal Healthcare Medical Centre, a specialist clinic in Novena.
After another two to three sessions with the specialist, he went back to the neighbourhood clinic to get a dental crown – a cap placed over a tooth to restore its look and function.
The whole process, which took less than six months, cost Mr Lee more than S$2,600 (US$1,960) for both the root canal and the dental crown.
He is not the only one who has spent thousands on a root canal treatment here in Singapore.
Assistant marketing manager May Ho similarly paid S$2,400 for both procedures when she sought treatment three years ago.
Ms Ho, who is in her early 40s, told CNA that she was first advised to get a dental crown when she was in primary school.
But she did not, as there was no pain and she saw “no reason” to visit the dentist. It was only after many years when she started to feel discomfort that she decided to visit a dentist.
Like Mr Lee, she was recommended a root canal, which she got done at The Oral Care Centre in Novena.
While Ms Ho, who works at the National University of Singapore, did find it “a bit pricey”, she did not get the procedure done elsewhere as she had always gone to that dental clinic for her check-ups.
She was also able to save a few hundred dollars using her company’s health benefits for staff. Mr Lee, on the other hand, paid the full amount.
Dental procedures such as root canal treatments are not covered by MediSave, the national medical savings scheme aimed at helping people set aside part of their income to meet healthcare needs.
The scheme can only be used for surgical dental procedures – which does not include root canal treatments.