Cavity Filling Costs in 2021 - With and Without Insurance

Cavity Filling Costs in 2021 - With and Without Insurance
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Cavity Filling Costs in 2021 - With and Without InsuranceClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. What Are Cavity Fillings
  2. Cavity Fillings Cost With Insurance
  3. Cavity Fillings Cost Without Insurance
  4. Help For Paying For Fillings
  5. References

According to data collected for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, approximately 2.4 billion people suffer from cavities in their teeth. While the situation has gotten better in the last few decades, there’s still much awareness needed to improve and maintain teeth hygiene and health.

Dental hygiene has come a long way. Today you can get various kinds of cavity fillings depending on the affected area, your budget, and preference. How much do cavity fillings cost, and how can your insurance service provider help you get the best service? Here’s everything you need to know about dental fillings.

What Are Cavity Fillings?

Tooth decay or cavities are holes that form on the surface of the tooth. In most cases, cavities start small, then gradually enlarge, especially with poor dental hygiene and irregular dental checkups.

Cavities can be caused by various factors, including bacterial infection, frequent consumption of snacks and sugary drinks, and not cleaning the teeth properly. Since they start small, they may be initially hard to detect, especially to an untrained eye. Most people visit the dentist when the cavities are too large or develop pain.

Left untreated, cavities can lead to toothaches, infection and tooth loss.

To remedy tooth decay, dentists drill to remove any decaying material from the tooth. The dentist then fills the tooth with composite resin, porcelain fillings, gold or silver. Cavity-filling is a straightforward procedure and can be handled during one visit to the dentist.

The cost of fillings varies depending on several factors. These include:

  • The number of teeth being filled. The more teeth you need to be filled, the higher the cost.
  • The teeth that need filling. Cavity fillings in molar teeth are more expensive as these teeth are harder to reach and may require special equipment.
  • Size of the cavity. Large tooth decays require more work and material, significantly affecting the price.
  • Different conditions and underlying infections. If the gum or other teeth have been affected by the cavities, you might need more than one dental appointment.
  • Location and your dentist. The price of a cavity filling could also be influenced by your geographical location and the dental specialist involved.

Generally speaking, porcelain filling and composite resin are cheaper than gold and silver fillings. But you should consult with your dental healthcare provider to get the most suitable and affordable filling material.

How Much Do Cavity Fillings Cost When You Have Insurance?

Fillings aren’t considered cosmetic or elective procedures and are covered by most insurance service providers. Composite and amalgam fillings are usually considered a medical necessity. As such, they’re either largely or entirely covered by the insurance cover.

Since different insurance covers have varying policies, getting the actual cost of a filling may prove difficult. However, you can get more information from both the insurance provider and the dentist’s office.

Additionally, you should check if your insurance covers just the filling procedure or the entire process. For instance, before the dentist fills the tooth, they need to perform an X-ray. Other additional costs may arise from plaque cleaning and removal before the procedure.

When checking the price with your dentist, ask if the insurance covers these additional costs. Also obtain the actual cost of the whole procedure, not just for the filling repair.

A cavity can spread so quickly without treatment that a root canal or tooth extraction is needed.

How Much Do Cavity Fillings Cost Without Insurance?

The cost of dental fillings is directly tied to the material used, the extent of damage and the surface covered. Price can also be influenced by whether the cavity is posterior or anterior. Here’s a cost breakdown based on the material used:

Resin-Based Composite

The average cost of filling cavities with resin-based composite is $200 for a single surface. The price could range from $100 to $400 based on the factors outlined above.

With proper dental hygiene, regular checkups, and general maintenance, resin-based composite can last from five to 15 years.

Amalgam
On average, amalgam fillings cost $150 per single surface. The price could vary from $100 to $300 across America. Amalgam fillings are affordable and can last up to 10 years with proper care.
Gold Foil

The average cost of gold fillings is $400 for a single tooth. The price may go as low as $250 and as high as $650. Gold foil fillings last anywhere from 15 to 30 years.

Over the recent past, gold fillings have seen a decline as they require specialized equipment and time to get the procedure right.

Ceramic or Porcelain

The most expensive cavity-filling option, porcelain fillings cost an average of $1,150. However, you can get the procedure done for as low as $500 and as high as $2,800.

Ceramic fillings are time-consuming. They must be custom-made in a lab and fitted correctly. After the procedure, you won’t have to think of replacing them for at least 15 years.

Some of the additional costs you need to factor in when getting fillings:

  • Dental examinations: $50 to $200 per visit
  • Panoramic X-rays: $100 to $250 per set
  • Periapical X-rays: $25 to $50 per set
  • Bitewing X-rays: $25 to $50 per set
  • Nitrous Oxide: $40 to $150 per visit
  • Non-intravenous conscious sedation: $75 to $500 per visit
  • Anesthesia: $100 to $500 per visit

Ways to Get Help for Paying for Fillings

Fillings aren’t cheap, and you should always investigate with your dentist’s office manager about what your insurance will cover. If you don’t have dental insurance, you can go through the American Dental Association and search for affordable dental services near you. Additionally, you could scout for local dentistry schools, which often offer discounts on most procedures.

Ultimately, it’s essential to observe proper dental hygiene and make regular dental appointments. These are the most proven ways of keeping your teeth clean and free from cavities. Dental checkups also help identify the matter early on and prepare the best curate and preventative measures.

References

Dental Caries (Tooth Decay). (July 2018). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Date fetched: July 24, 2021.

National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey: Perceived Oral Health Status Among Adults with Teeth in the United States, 1988-94. (January 2003). Date fetched: July 24, 2021.

Overview and quality assurance for the oral health component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2011-2014. (2019). BMC Oral Health. Date fetched: July 24, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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