Tooth decay is nothing new for Americans. According to a recent report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, 91 percent of adults in the U.S. had at least some tooth decay in 2011-2012. Chances are you already have a tooth filling, and even if you don’t, you’ll likely need one in the future. Despite how common this procedure is, it doesn’t come cheap. And if you are facing more than one tooth filling, the bill can add up quickly.
Dental insurance is helpful, but not always available. Without insurance you’ll pay anywhere from $50 to thousands for a simple dental filling, depending on the kind of filling you get and the tooth involved. Dental insurance, if available, typically covers anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of a procedure. If the average cost of a filling is $204, with insurance you would still pay at minimum $40. This price also doesn’t include many of the additional fees associated with dental work.
Tooth Filling Cost Based on Materials
Getting a tooth filling isn’t just about the cost of materials for the filling itself. First, you’ll likely have to pay for an initial exam as well as a set of X-rays. These are both standard procedures that can also be quite expensive. An initial exam may cost upwards of $100, and a dental X-ray upwards of $250.
Many dentists do not include sedation when determining tooth filling cost. For less intrusive procedures, a topical anesthetic is likely more than enough, but for people who need more extensive procedures, full sedation might be required. Costs can range from $25 for laughing gas to well over $500 for intravenous options.
The tooth filling cost also varies depending on the type of materials used for the procedure and the location of the tooth, according to CostHelper.
- Gold and Porcelain: By far the most expensive options, gold and porcelain fillings for an easier procedure usually start off at $250 to more than $4,000. Gold fillings are custom made, and therefore require more than one pre-appointment before the filling itself. Dental insurance does sometimes cover gold fillings, up to a pre-set maximum.
- Composite resin: This is a cheaper option than porcelain, yet still a good option if you prefer to have the filling match the color of your teeth. A composite filling will cost between $90 to $250.
- Silver amalgam: Also called simple metal fillings, are the cheapest option. They start off at $50 to up to $150, depending on how bad the decay is and which tooth requires the work. Silver amalgam fillings are commonly covered in full or in part by insurance.
Will Dental Insurance Pay for a Tooth Filling?
Most people who are lucky enough to have dental health insurance will likely have it paid for in whole or in part through their employer via the company’s group policy. However, if you are interested in purchasing your own individual plan, the annual cost was $350 as of 2014, so make sure to review your options to determine if dental insurance is worth it for you. These plans typically cover routine dental work, including cleaning, check-ups, and minor repairs, such as dental fillings. Considering the average American pays $544 a year out of pocket, planning ahead with a dental plan can help save you hundreds of dollars, maybe more.
Tips on Negotiating Your Dental Filling Costs
As with any purchase, try to shop around before settling on a dentist for your next filling. Dentists may also be open to price matching a rate you’ve found online, provided it’s for a similar service and specific to your region. There are resources available online to confirm a fair price for procedures across America, depending on location, including Fair Health Consumer.
Other Ways to Pay Less for a Tooth Filling
If you have shopped around and still find the price of dental work to be too expensive, consider your alternatives. Some dental schools offer cheaper services, and there are also federally funded health centers that provide dental care. Finally, some states also support access to low cost not-for-profit dental care, including California and New York. Explore your county or state’s dental services to determine if there is nonprofit dental care in your neighborhood.
Author: Jeff Gitlen