According to the American Dental Association, the cost of going to the dentist is the number one reason people avoid regular dental care. Unfortunately, neglecting your dental health care can have serious consequences and may end up costing you more money over time. Budgeting for dental work can be a challenge, and understanding dental costs can help you plan ahead.
Average Dental Costs by Procedure
The cost of going to the dentist varies significantly based on your location, the provider you use, and the treatment plan that is best for you.
It’s important to research services in your area to get a realistic estimate of what things cost. Also, while many dentists will list average costs as a guide, the cost of the services you receive will vary based on your dental health. A dentist should give you a quote before they perform any major services.
|Procedure||Without Insurance (per tooth)|
|Routine tooth extraction||$112-$294+|
|Wisdom tooth extraction (erupted)||$447-$1,172+|
|Dental surgery (surgical tooth extraction)||$183-$479+|
|Chipped tooth repair||$176-$462+|
|Dental Filling (one surface)||$119-$311+|
|Anterior Root Canal||$575 – $1,508+|
|Dental Implants||$3,000 to $5,000+|
Having Dental Insurance Makes a Huge Difference
While dental insurance rarely covers 100% of dental services, it does drastically reduce your out-of-pocket expenses for many procedures.
Many employers include Dental Insurance benefits to help offset the cost. Typical premiums for employer-sponsored plans range from $20 to $60 a month per person.
If you don’t get dental insurance through your employer, you can find it on your own through the insurance marketplace on the U.S. Department of Health and Family Services website.
Dental Plan Categories: High and Low
There are two categories of Marketplace dental plans: High and low.
High coverage has higher premiums but lower copayments and deductibles. Low coverage has lower premiums but higher copayments and deductibles.
You will have to decide if you want to pay more upfront in higher premiums or more when using dental services.
Typical Dental Insurance Coverage for Common Procedures
|Diagnostic||Oral exams and x-rays||Typically 100%|
|Preventative||Dental cleanings and fluoride treatments||50 to 100%|
|Restorative||Fillings, crowns, caps and bridges||50 to 80%|
|Endodontics||Root canals||50 to 80%|
|Periodontics||Gum treatments||50 to 80%|
|Prosthodontics||Partial or full dentures and dental appliances||50 to 80%|
|Oral Surgery||Extractions||50 to 80%|
|Implants||Dental implants||50 to 80%|
Dental Neglect Can Cost You More in The Long Run
Neglecting your teeth because you don’t have dental insurance or can’t afford out-of-pocket expenses, could cost you more in the long.
You’ll Need More Expensive Treatment
For example, if you go several years without dental cleaning or preventative services, you could develop serious tooth decay resulting in expensive fillings, root canals or tooth loss.
Your Insurance Coverage Options Become Limited
If you wait to get dental insurance until you have a serious dental health issue, you may not be eligible for certain types of coverage. Dental insurance isn’t subject to the same pre-existing condition laws that protect other types of health insurance.
You can get dental insurance, even if you have a pre-existing condition, but you may be subject to a waiting period of 6 months or more before the treatment is covered, and some may not be covered at all.
Your Overall Health Can Suffer
Oral diseases caused by neglect can have severe consequences for your overall health. Oral pain can interfere with your daily life and untreated infections can be deadly.
Poor Oral Health Can Influence How Others See You
Although the appearance of your teeth is considered cosmetic. Decayed or missing teeth will influence how people see you professionally and could hinder your ability to get a job.
How to Save on Dental Costs
If you find yourself struggling to pay for preventative healthcare or costly dental procedures you didn’t expect, there are a few ways you can save.
- Find an in-network provider to make sure your services are covered by insurance
- Go to a Dental School for discounted procedures
- Become a medical tourist and travel to other countries for dental work
If you have dental insurance, make sure you are using an in-network provider, or your services may not be covered.
If you still need to cut costs, you can consider going to a dental school or traveling to another country (like Mexico) for cheaper services. However, keep in mind that dental schools and overseas providers may or may take dental insurance. So you’ll need to calculate if the savings are worth it.
How to Pay for Dental Costs
- Start an FSA (Flexible Spend Account) to save for future dental expenses pre-tax
- Get a medical Credit Card to cover expenses.
You can start an FSA with your employer and save money pre-tax to use toward future out-of-pocket dental expenses. This can be a great way to cut costs. However, FSAs do expire! Money deferred into an FSA during the calendar year is forfeited if not claimed by the expiration deadline. For 2020 and 2021, the maximum salary reduction a person can put toward an FSA is $2,750.
If you do not have enough savings to cover expenses, you can apply for a credit card to cover the costs, like CareCredit. Medical credit cards usually have more lenient approval rates and can only be used for approved medical purchases.
The Best Way to Save Money on Dental Costs
Have you ever wondered why dentists always tell you to floss? It’s because flossing is preventative. Preventing oral diseases and tooth decay before it happens is the best way to save money at the dentist. Once you have a dental issue, the treatments cost what they cost and there are few options for saving money.
Your best bet to avoid costly dental bills is brushing twice a day, flossing, and seeing the dentist for cleanings and checkups at least twice a year.