Many things affect the cost of dental treatment. Perhaps the most important factor is whether or not the insurance company deems a procedure medically necessary or cosmetic.
Other factors affecting the cost of dental treatments include your geographic location, the dental professional performing the treatment, and how you pay for the treatment.
For many, certain dental procedures are out of the realm of options because they are too expensive.
Nearly everyone has access to affordable basic, preventative dental care. This includes two to four dental cleanings per year.
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There are three basic categories of teeth cleanings, including:
These are preventive oral health maintenance procedures used to prevent the progression of problems.
For children, checkups and teeth cleanings help a child feel comfortable with dentist visits. They are also necessary to identify any long-term dental health issues as early as possible. It’s also a chance to teach them dental care like proper brushing and flossing.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends all children have their first dental visit when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday.
Adults undergo dentistry cleanings as maintenance. Cleanings identify early signs of oral health problems, including gingivitis, cavities, and oral cancer. Dentists also remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the teeth and gums and polish teeth.
Dentists often recommend adults with gum disease undergo deep cleaning treatments, including root planing and scaling. This treatment cleans between the gums and teeth and also removes plaque from tooth roots. While still relatively non-invasive, deep cleanings can be uncomfortable and require a local anesthetic.
Periodontal maintenance addresses the progression of gum disease. During this treatment, the dentist removes tartar and plaque buildup above and below the gum line. Stain removal on teeth is usually a part of the procedure as well.
Dental cleanings vary in price based on the needs and age of the patient and whether or not they have dental insurance coverage. Most cost between $75 and $400 without insurance. In many cases, cleanings are free for people with insurance coverage.
Sometimes dental schools provide free or low-cost cleanings to uninsured patients. These services also allow students to learn how to work with a variety of different patients.
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In most cases, yes. Cleanings are medically necessary and preventative, so insurance companies include them in coverage.
Cleanings are not offered as a courtesy, though. Dental plans allow for the early identification of problems, so long-term, cleanings save insurance companies the cost of covering more serious and expensive dental health issues.
Fluoride treatment is a professional dental treatment. It consists of applying a high concentration of fluoride to a person’s teeth. This improves dental health and reduces the risk of cavities.
Fluoride treatments usually range from $20 to $50. Dentists do them in conjunction with a dental cleaning.
Fluoride treatments are preventative but might not be deemed medically necessary for adults. Insurance plans usually cover a portion of treatments for adults, so they usually cost about $10 to $30 out-of-pocket. Fluoride treatments are covered for children and adults depending on the specific dental plan.
Cavity fillings restore teeth that are affected by tooth decay. They fill space in a tooth where food and bacteria can enter and cause further decay. They also repair broken or worn-down teeth.
The cost of a filling varies widely, from as little as $50 to as much as $4,500, depending on the material used. The average cost is $150 to $250 for silver amalgam or composite fillings. Fillings are also available in glass ionomer and gold or porcelain.
Dental insurance typically covers a significant portion of the cost of a filling. However, insurance companies usually set limits regarding the total dollar amount covered. Your coverage may differ depending on the type of filling material and how many surfaces need a filling.
There might also be a limit on how many fillings you can get per year or the total amount of coverage you’re entitled to each year. Most insurance companies have a frequency limit on the amount of times your tooth can get restored with a filling.
Suppose you need multiple dental fillings or fillings in addition to procedures beyond routine cleanings. In that case, your dentist can work with your insurance provider to determine the best course of treatment based on costs and needs.
Crowns are small caps placed over damaged teeth. They help provide support for teeth with larger cavities or fractures and worn down teeth.
Like fillings, the cost of dental crowns depends on whether implants are made from porcelain or metal. The cost ranges from $800 to more than $2,000 per crown.
Dental insurance might cover the cost of crowns in part or entirely if the crown strengthens a weak or cracked tooth. Total coverage is rare. In most cases, the patient can expect to pay about 50 percent of the cost. If a crown is strictly for cosmetic purposes, insurance won’t cover any of it.
Dental implants are replacement “teeth roots” made of titanium. They are implanted into a person’s jawbone.
The cost of dental implants ranges from $1,000 to as high as $4,000.
Insurance companies often won’t cover dental work costs (like implants) because they consider them cosmetic procedures. Some do cover the cost, at least in part, but the trade-off is a high deductible or high premium.
Even if your insurance provider offers coverage for dental services like implants, it might not be the most affordable option for the procedure.
Dental bonding is a procedure that applies a tooth-colored composite material to a tooth. The dentist sculpts it into shape, waits for it to harden, and polishes it. The purpose is to create a consistent color and texture for teeth.
The cost of cosmetic bonding ranges from $300 to $600 per tooth. The cost is based on the amount of tooth damage and how long it takes the dentist to repair the damage.
Insurance covers bonding when it is medically necessary due to decay, tooth chips, or fractures. Some cosmetic bonding procedures might also be partially covered if they are needed for structural reasons.
A root canal removes tooth pulp from a decaying or infected tooth.
The cost of a root canal varies based on location and your dental care provider. Most cost approximately $700 to $900 per tooth.
Most of the time, dental insurance covers at least a portion of the cost of a root canal procedure. Better dental coverage (and higher premiums) typically result in a greater portion of the procedure covered.
Root canals are almost always medically necessary because they remove infected tooth pulp.
Dental veneers are stain-resistant resin-based composite or porcelain glued over the front of teeth to create a consistent color, texture, and shape.
Dental veneers range in cost from $500 to $2,000.
Veneers are a cosmetic procedure. This means that most dental insurance policies will not cover the cost of the procedure. In some cases, if a patient shows there is a structural need for veneers, insurance might cover 30 to 50 percent of the cost.
Professional teeth whitening is an in-office chemical procedure to lighten and remove stains from teeth.
The cost of laser teeth whitening ranges from $600 to $1,200.
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure and most dental insurance policies do not offer coverage.
Braces are placed on teeth to straighten or move them for cosmetic and functional purposes.
The cost of braces varies depending on the material used. For example, metal or traditional braces range from $3,000 to 7,000. Ceramic braces range from $4,000 to 8,000. Lingual braces range from $8,000 to 10,000.
Dental insurance coverage for braces varies for adults, but coverage is available for a portion of the cost for children. Some states require insurance coverage for braces for children, especially when there is a functional need for braces.
Invisalign is a brand-name alternative to traditional wire braces that uses transparent, incremental aligners to move teeth.
The cost of Invisalign treatment is approximately the same as traditional braces. It ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 depending on the needs of the patient.
There are some instances in which dental insurance covers a portion of the cost of Invisalign. Speak to your insurance provider before committing to Invisalign so you know what to expect in terms of your out-of-pocket cost.
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American Association of Endodontists (AAE). Root Canal Treatment. 2 Sept. 2020, https://www.aae.org/patients/root-canal-treatment/.
“Invisalign Cost.” www.invisalign.com, https://www.invisalign.com/invisalign-cost.
“VA Dental Care.” Veterans Affairs, 22 June 2020, https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/dental-care/.
Digital Communications Division (DCD). “Where Can I Find Low-Cost Dental Care?” HHS.gov, 7 June 2015, https://www.hhs.gov/answers/health-insurance-reform/where-can-i-find-low-cost-dental-care/index.html.
“Dental Hygiene Clinic.” Normandale Community College, https://www.normandale.edu/departments/health-sciences/dental-hygiene/dental-hygiene-clinic.
“American Dental Association.” Ada.org, 2018, https://www.ada.org/en.