Dental care is a vital component of overall health, yet many people lack access to the necessary procedures. This is because dental cost are often higher than other types of healthcare services.
To help alleviate this problem, it’s helpful to look into affordable dental insurance options. A quality dental plan typically covers 100% of annual routine care procedures and 80% of the cost of major treatments like fillings and root canals.
Many dental issues are easily treatable if you catch them early. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular visits with your dentist – and not just because they’re covered by most insurance plans.
If you don’t have dental insurance, you can still get preventive care for a minimal cost. Many states have oral health coalitions that can connect you to free or low-cost dental services in your area.
If you do have dental insurance, it’s best to choose a DPPO plan (dental preferred provider organization). These plans have large networks of dentists and usually cover non-preventive procedures at 50% or less, with a higher copay. DHMOs, on the other hand, tend to have lower premiums but less flexibility. Many DHMOs require you to stay in-network for all non-preventive care. And, if you go out of network, you’ll have to pay the full amount up front and then submit a claim for reimbursement.
A tooth filling is a quick, painless procedure that fixes decayed teeth by removing bacteria, plaque and tartar from the cavity. Filling prices vary depending on the type of filling and material used, as well as the size of the cavity.
Amalgam fillings are the least expensive option at $50-$150 per tooth, while composite resin and porcelain fillings cost a bit more. Ceramic fillings are a more expensive option but offer stain resistance and are abrasive-resistant, lasting five years or longer. Porcelain inlays or onlays are a premium option and can last for two decades.
Dental insurance policies typically cover 80% of these procedures, after you meet your deductible and annual maximum. Before you get a filling, make sure to check with your provider for exact pricing and coverage details. They should provide you with a UCR fee schedule that lists the typical charges for a given treatment in your area, including materials, lab fees, x-rays and appointment time.
Crowns, also called caps, cover damaged teeth and help restore their strength and appearance. They can be used to repair broken, severely decayed or misshaped teeth and even replace a tooth completely if it has been extracted. Crowns can be made of a number of materials, which vary in price.
Porcelain crowns are most natural-looking but tend to be the most expensive. A ceramic material called zirconia, which is stronger than porcelain and lasts longer, is another option that may be less costly than porcelain.
Metal crowns are typically used for molars and can withstand biting and chewing forces but do not look as natural. A crown made of porcelain fused to metal is a good compromise that offers both strength and aesthetics.
Dental insurance generally covers most or all of the cost of a dental crown that is medically necessary, but you should always shop around to find the best deal. You can also consider a dental discount plan to save on essential restorative care like crowns.
If you have a missing tooth, a dental bridge can fill the gap and prevent shifting, degradation of the jawbone, and other health issues. However, the cost of the procedure is not cheap. Fortunately, if you have insurance or a payment plan, the price will be significantly less.
Traditional dental bridges consist of two anchor teeth (called abutment teeth) and a false tooth in between. They can be made of metal, porcelain fused to metal, or ceramics.
Before fabricating the bridge, the dentist will take X-rays and impressions of the area and prep the abutment teeth by removing a small portion of enamel to make room for the crowns. The dentist will then send the impressions to a laboratory to fabricate your bridge. When the lab finishes, your dentist will remove the temporary bridge and cement the permanent one in place. This process can be a little uncomfortable, but the pain should subside after a few minutes.
A root canal is a dental treatment that removes damaged tissue from the inside of a tooth. It can be expensive if you don’t have dental insurance. However, many dentists offer discounts or payment plans for those without insurance. Additionally, if you visit your dentist for a root canal as soon as you notice a problem it will likely cost less than if you wait to seek treatment. The longer you wait the more damage may be done to the tooth, requiring more work and possibly increasing the overall cost of the procedure.
The type of tooth that needs a root canal also impacts the cost. Front teeth are typically the most affordable while molars in the back of the mouth have more roots, which increases their overall cost. Moreover, the cost of a root canal is often separated from other fees, such as sedation.
Orthodontics is a type of dental treatment that corrects misaligned teeth. It involves the use of appliances, such as braces. Typically, orthodontics is done during late adolescence to help prevent the development of an overbite or underbite. It can also help correct a crossbite or malocclusion.
Purchasing a dental insurance plan can be cost-effective in the long run. Many plans cover routine exams, x-rays, and cleanings at a lower cost than out-of-pocket costs. A good dental insurance plan will usually cover 80% of basic care and 50% of major services, including crowns.
When choosing a dental insurance plan, compare benefits, premiums, and deductibles. Consider a DPPO or DHMO plan, which provide the highest level of coverage for in-network dentists and offer the lowest premiums. You can also choose an indemnity plan, which doesn’t have a network and requires a referral for non-preventative services. You can also consider a DPOS (dental point of service) plan, which offers some elements of both a DPPO and DHMO.