December 6, 2023

dental cost can be expensive, but routine care can help prevent costly problems. Many dental plans cover basic care without a copay. Other services have a coinsurance percentage and an annual maximum for out-of-pocket costs.

Dental insurance premiums can range from $8 to $100 per month. Other costs include deductibles and copayments.

Preventive care

Taking the right precautions can reduce dental costs and help prevent larger health issues down the road. For instance, some dental problems—such as gum disease and tooth decay—can become more serious if left untreated.

Dental insurance can also reduce the cost of procedures. Look for plans that cover exam fees, X-rays and cleanings 100 percent; routine procedures like fillings 80 percent or more; and 50 percent of bigger-ticket work such as crowns.

Many dental practices offer their own in-house plans for patients without traditional insurance. These plans typically require a monthly payment and give patients discounts on treatments.

Routine cleanings

Routine cleanings remove plaque, tartar and biofilm from areas that brushing and flossing cannot reach. They also help prevent cavities and gum disease, which can have a major impact on your oral health.

Most dental insurance plans cover routine cleanings at 100%, but if you don’t have insurance, the cost of your routine cleaning can be between $75 and $200. You may also need a deep cleaning or other services, which can increase the total cost of your treatment.

Many dental schools offer low-cost dental cleanings, and some community health centers provide high-quality dental care at a fraction of the price of private practices. Some states also offer free or reduced-cost dental care programs for people with income or unemployment issues.

X-rays

X-rays are a critical part of dental care because they can help detect problems like tooth decay, impacted teeth, and other issues that might not be visible to the eye. These can be expensive to fix and may require surgery or other procedures.

The cost of X-rays varies depending on the type of X-ray and your insurance coverage. Most dental insurance policies cover a certain number of X-rays per year. You might also choose to get digital X-rays instead of traditional film, which emit less radiation and allow you to have X-rays taken more frequently. These can save you even more money.

Fillings

Dental fillings can save you a lot of money in the long run. Putting off even a small cavity can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in more costly treatments down the road.

Silver amalgam fillings are the cheapest and last for about 10 years. Composite resin and glass ionomer cement are slightly more expensive but they last for about five to 15 years.

Ceramic or porcelain inlays and onlays are the most expensive types of tooth fillings and can cost $250 to $4500 per tooth. These are made in a lab and can restore the chewing surfaces of your teeth and other damaged areas of your mouth.

Crowns

Crowns are a more expensive procedure than a filling, but they protect the tooth and can prevent further damage or infection. They also prevent larger, more costly restorative treatments in the future such as root canals or dental implants.

Dental insurance often covers the cost of crowns, but you should shop around for the best prices. Check to see if you can get the treatment at a dental school or college, which typically offer lower rates than private dentists.

Other options for reducing the cost of a crown include using your flexible spending account (FSA) to cover the costs, or taking advantage of government programs that offer low-cost dentistry.

Veneers

Veneers are a cosmetic procedure that can dramatically improve the look of your teeth. They are made of durable material and can last for years. They can also help with self-esteem and confidence. However, veneers are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

Dental veneers are not usually covered by insurance because they are a cosmetic procedure. They can be considered medically necessary, though, if they reshape or recolor teeth that are damaged by decay or trauma.

Although most dental insurance policies don’t cover veneers, some dental savings plans do. These dental plans can provide a significant discount on cosmetic treatments. They can be paired with a tax-free health savings or flexible spending account to further reduce the cost of veneers.

Root canals

Root canals are a common dental treatment that can save infected teeth. The procedure involves drilling a hole in the tooth, cleaning out all of the infected tissue and sealing the tooth with gutta percha. Usually, the tooth will need a crown afterwards to protect it from further damage.

Most basic dental insurance plans don’t cover root canals, but more comprehensive plans will pay for a significant portion of the procedure. The cost can also be reduced by using a health savings account or flexible spending account, which allows you to set aside pre-tax money for medical expenses.

Implants

Dental implants are expensive, but they offer a good long-term value compared to other tooth replacement methods like dentures and bridges. They can last a lifetime and also prevent jaw bone loss, which would otherwise require expensive procedures later on.

The cost of implants depends on the type and material of implant, as well as other treatment costs such as a bone graft and extraction or temporary teeth. X-rays and other imaging scans can also add to the cost.

Many patients use financing options to help pay for their implants. These include CareCredit, personal loans and dentists’ in-house payment plans.

Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatment corrects irregularities in teeth and jaws to prevent future problems with chewing, speech and more. It also reduces gum disease, tooth decay and other oral health issues caused by malocclusion.

While most dentists can straighten teeth with orthodontic appliances, orthodontists receive specialized training and have more experience treating these problems. This enables them to provide more effective and shorter treatments.

Many dental insurance plans include coverage for orthodontics. Check with your provider to see what’s included in your plan. If not, consider setting aside pretax dollars in a flexible spending account or health savings account to help pay for orthodontics.

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