Dental insurance can be a huge help. Even the most basic plans can allow you to keep your teeth clean and healthy at an affordable price.
But people may not realize that even the best dental plans don’t guarantee your costs are covered. And if you don’t have dental insurance, you’re facing the cost of dental care unassisted.
At Access Health Dental, we don’t want you to be caught by surprise when trying to take great care of your teeth. Here’s what you can expect insurance to pay for and how much you might be spending on common dental procedures out of pocket.
What Dental Insurance Covers
About 90% of employees working for companies with 500 or more people have an option for dental insurance. Individual plans vary in what they cover depending on the dental insurance company and the tier of coverage.
Here’s what most will cover:
- 100% of preventative care, including two annual cleanings and X-rays
- 80% of basic procedures, like fillings, root canals, or crowns
- 50% of major procedures, like tooth implants, wisdom teeth removal, or dentures
The exact percentages of what your plan will cover vary, as will the prices your dentist charges for their services. In addition to paying for at least a portion of your care, you’ll likely have to pay a premium every month (unless your employer covers this).
And a word to the wise: If you’ve had a gap in dental insurance coverage, you may need to wait a period of time before your insurance plan will cover costs. Plus, even with the best dental insurance, most plans have a cap on how much they will pay per year. Once you hit that, you’ll be paying out of pocket.
If you don’t have dental insurance — because you work part-time, freelance, don’t work, or don’t have a job that offers it — it’s helpful to know what you might be in for when your bill arrives. Here are the most common dental costs.
Dental Care Costs
As you age, you might find yourself needing more extensive dental care than you did as a kid. Your teeth might become more prone to decay, or old fillings might need to be replaced.
We’ve looked up the cost of common dental procedures — including the cost of preventative dental care, fillings, crowns, and root canals — so you have an idea of what to expect if you’re paying yourself.
Basic Dental Cleaning
The American Dental Association recommends going to the dentist at least once a year for a cleaning. Depending on your teeth and oral history, you might be better off going twice.
During your visit, your dentist might recommend X-rays to keep a closer eye on your teeth.
- Basic dental cleaning and polish cost between $75 and $200.
- Panoramic X-rays, which are recommended every 1 to 3 years depending on age, can cost between $100 and $200.
If you have tooth decay that has led to a cavity, you’ll need to get it filled to prevent further issues. There are a few different kinds of fillings, and each varies in cost.
- Amalgam fillings are a mixture of metals: half liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy of silver, tin, and copper.
- They’re often referred to as “silver fillings” for their color.
- Amalgam fillings can range from $50 to $150 for one to two teeth.
Resin Composite Fillings
- Resin composite fillings are made of durable synthetic resin.
- They cost $90 to $250 for one to two teeth.
Glass Ionomer Cement Fillings (GICs)
- Glass ionomer cement (or GICs) is made of alumina, silica, and calcium.
- They typically cost between $90 and $250 for one to two teeth.
- Gold fillings are made of cast gold, the same kind of gold in a piece of jewelry.
- They’re the longest-lasting material for fillings, but they don’t match the color of your teeth and tend to be the most expensive.
- Gold fillings can cost $250 to $4500 for one to two teeth.
If a filling is large enough, your dentist might put a cap on top called a crown to protect the tooth and prevent further damage.
You might also need a crown to hold a dental bridge in place, cover a misshapen tooth, dental implant, or a tooth that’s been treated with a root canal.
There are a few different materials for crowns, varying in durability and cost.
- Metal crowns might be gold, palladium, nickel, or chromium.
- They’re the most durable material, but don’t match your teeth (perfect for molars).
- A metal crown might cost $500 to $1,500.
Porcelain Fused-to-Metal (PFM) Crowns
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFM) have a metal cover underneath a porcelain crown.
- They match teeth well but may chip or wear down.
- A porcelain fused-to-metal crown may coast $600 to $1,800.
All-Ceramic or All-Porcelain Crowns
- All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns use porcelain (a kind of clay) without the metal underneath.
- They’re the best natural color match to your teeth but aren’t as strong as a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown.
- An all-ceramic or all-porcelain crown may cost $800 to $2,000.
If the tissue around your tooth has become infected, you might need a root canal. A root canal removes the infected tissue, cleans the tooth, then fills and seals it back up to prevent further issues.
There are two types of root canals: incisor and molar.
Incisor Root Canal
- An incisor root canal is performed on your front and canine teeth. They usually have a single root containing one root canal.
- An incisor root canal might cost $500 to $1,000.
Molar Root Canal
- A molar toot canal is performed on your premolars and back molars. Each has two or three roots, each containing either one or two root canals.
- A molar root canal might cost $800 to $1,500.
When other methods of prevention and treatment haven’t worked, you might need to have the tooth removed or pulled in what’s called a tooth extraction.
This could be necessary with severe tooth decay, a fracture in your tooth, an impacted tooth, crowded teeth, severe gum disease, or dental injuries.
There are three kinds of tooth extractions: simple, surgical, or wisdom teeth.
Simple Tooth Extraction
- During a simple tooth extraction, you stay awake and are given local anesthesia to numb the pain.
- A simple tooth extraction might cost $75 to $250 per tooth.
Surgical Tooth Extraction
- A surgical tooth extraction means you’ll receive local anesthesia and either general anesthesia and/or intravenous anesthesia.
- You’ll be unconscious during the procedure.
- A surgical tooth extraction might cost $180 to $550 per tooth.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction
- Removing your wisdom teeth is a surgical tooth extraction specifically for your third molars or wisdom teeth.
- Wisdom teeth extraction might cost anywhere from $120 to $800.
Dental Savings Plan to Help Pay for Dental Care
If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover all the dental care you need, you might be facing scary bills from your dentist.
The best treatment is preventative care — see your dentist annually for cleanings and check-ups. If you need more care between annual visits, Access Health Dental offers special savings plan to help you cover costs.
Our AHD Smiles Dental Savings Plan includes free check-ups and a discounted fee schedule (with exclusive 40% savings). We also offer discounted orthodontics and specialties. Plus, our patient referral rewards program allows you to earn rewards and credits for every friend, co-worker, and family member you refer to us.
The AHD Smiles Dental Savings plan has no annual maximums (unlike many insurance plans), no deductibles, no pre-authorization requirements, no pre-existing condition exclusions, and no waiting periods on treatments.
At Access Health Dental, we believe everyone deserves access to dental care. Learn how you can save money while taking care of your teeth.