Almost everybody needs a dental filling (or more) during their lifetime. The average cost of fillings ranges between $80 and $240, depending on the type of filling material, the size of the cavity, the location of treatment and the dental clinic. The different types of fillings can vary considerably in price. The key materials include silver amalgams, porcelain, composite resin and gold inlays.
The cost of having fillings to repair tooth decay can be higher if there are more serious problems concerned. For example, where the decay is occurring during crooked teeth prohibiting thorough cleaning, then you may need to pay the cost of braces on top of your normal filling expenses in order to fully deal with the problem.
What are fillings?
Fillings are a restorative dental treatment which repairs certain dental conditions such as tooth decay. Other common situations where fillings are needed include minimal tooth fractures and otherwise damaged tooth surfaces. The procedure involves removing the decay and filling the remaining tooth with a protective material. This provides protection from further decay and restores shape to the tooth.
What does the Cost of Fillings Include?
Having a filling involves a two-step process. Initially the dentist must determine whether a filling is actually required. A dental probe is used to examine the patient’s teeth for any damage or decay. An x-ray is used to determine the exact location of the cavity and its extent. The initial exam costs around $20 to $100. The x-ray fees are between $15 and $150. Often, these charges are included in the total cost.
Once it’s determined that you do need a filling and the extent of the problem is diagnosed, local anesthetic is used to numb the area. The dentist will then remove the decay and fill the residual part of the tooth with your chosen filling substance. With amalgam and composite resin fillings, this is often done in the same appointment and included in the total quote. As for gold inlays, these often require a temporary filling and a second appointment, allowing time for the creation of custom made molds.
Cost of Silver Amalgam Fillings
Silver filling are the traditional material used for sealing cavities. This type is the cheapest. However they can be unsightly since they do not match the color of normal teeth. The average cost of having amalgam fillings ranges between $90 and $200 per filling. The total price will depend on how many surfaces need to be covered. For example, for one or two surfaces, the average cost can be more or less $80 to $165. For 3 or more surfaces, prices can increases from $130 to $300 or more. Silver amalgams typically last around 12 years, which ends up being approximately $6.66 to $25 per year.
There have been some concerns about the safety of amalgam fillings since they contain mercury. However, the FDA continues to approve silver fillings for dental purposes and upholds their safety. Metal fillings are typically used on the rear molars since they are less visible than the front teeth. They are usually seen when the patient yawns or opens their mouth widely during speech. Those patients who require a more aesthetically pleasing look can upgrade to tooth colored resin composite fillings.
Cost of Composite Resin Fillings
If the patient requires repair work on the front of the teeth, then this is the ideal material to be used since it can be made to match the patient’s tooth color. Patients can also choose to use composite fillings on the rear teeth for added cosmetic enhancement. Prices for tooth colored fillings are more expensive since they require costly material, additional dental equipment and a more involved process to bond.
As with any other filling, the dentist first removes all the decay. The tooth must then be isolated to prevent any moisture affecting the bonding process. Once the tooth is separated and thoroughly cleaned from debris, the dentist uses adhesives to bond the composite resin to the tooth. A special bonding light is used to harden the composite material onto the tooth. After the procedure, the teeth should appear natural looking and should not have any sensitivity or other dental problems.
The average cost of composite fillings ranges between $140 and $250 per filling. The price will vary depending on how many surfaces need to be treated with $100 to $240 being the norm for one to two surfaces. The amount of $160 to $300 is common where more than two surfaces need repair. Since composite resin fillings only last 5 to 7 years, the cost of such fillings per year ranges between $20 and $60.
Cost of Cast-Gold Fillings
This option is more popular in elderly persons. Also known as inlays or onlays, the cost of gold fillings is significantly higher than the standard silver amalgams or even the composite resin. Having gold fillings requires two visits to the dentist. At the first consultation, your cavity will be repaired with any decay being removed and you will receive a temporary filling. X-rays are also taken to determine the size of the filling and its shape. Your details are then sent to a dental laboratory where a custom gold filling is made. Alternatively, this can also be done at your dentist’s office if they have CAD/CAM equipment.
Once your inlays are created, your temporary filling is removed and your cast-gold onlay is inserted. The average cost of having gold fillings is approximately $950 to $3,200. The choice of having gold fillings is certainly a luxury item reserved for the wealthier patients.
Cost of Fillings with Insurance
Most insurance policies will cover approximately 80 to 100% of the costs of having a filling. Depending on your insurance plan, there may also be a cap as to how much dental work you can claim in a one year period. However, most preventative dental work is fully covered by many plans.
If you are considering dental insurance, you need to research the available dental insurance plans in order to get the best deal for your premium. You need to be aware that the additional cost of composite fillings is typically not covered by most plans as this is considered to be a cosmetic option. However, this may depend on whether your filling is on the most visible side, being the front incisors, or the rear molars. If you are unsure, speak with your insurance representative or an insurance agent to in order to have the cost of your filling covered.
How to Reduce Filling Costs
When any dental problem arises, there will be associated dentist fees proportionate to the extent of the problem. The best way of minimising dental costs is to take preventative measures and by looking after your teeth. See your dentist on a regular basis for teeth cleaning and full check-ups. You should also be brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day. Mouth rinses can also help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Your diet is also a big factor. You should limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks and try to maintain a balanced nutritious diet.
Another way to decrease the cost of fillings is to visit a dentist from a cheaper area. Highly populated states such as California, Florida and New York can escalate dental prices. Those who are on a tight budget consider visiting abroad to Mexico to save on dental work including teeth cleaning and fillings.
As for children’s cavities, the prices for treating baby teeth are much lower, ranging between $60 and $110. This cost is definitely worthwhile for parents to prevent future dental problems for their children, keeping costs at a minimum by treating the issues early.
If you see a dentist on a regular basis, they will advise you when you require a filling. If you don’t have regular check-ups then you risk more serious problems and increased dental expenses in the future. You should not rely on pain or sensitivity as the sole indicator to determine when you need dental treatment. To minimize filling costs, have the problem diagnosed and treated early.