I recently consulted a dentist about getting a tooth extracted. The dentist recommended getting it done under general anesthetic. I responded, "I've had four wisdom tooth extracted under local anesthetic. I've given birth to two children without medication. I think I can handle it." "Ah, but some patients say dental pain is worse than child birth."
Eventually the dentist agreed to extract the tooth under a local anesthetic, and I was presented with an estimate for procedure - $350. "Why so low?" I asked the receptionist, remembering past estimates for dental work. "It's because you're not having a general anesthetic - if you were the bill would be more like $700." Indeed, I checked against the Alberta Dental Association fee guide (one of the few available on-line). The recommended charge for straightforward extraction done by a general dentist in Alberta is $242.25; the recommended charge for two units of general anesthetic is $228.62. A general anesthetic just about doubles the amount a dentist can charge for an extraction.