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dental cost are a major consideration for anyone seeking dental care. Dental plans, both those obtained through employers and those purchased on the individual market, tend to have deductibles and annual maximums that must be met before coverage kicks in.

The price of a resin composite filling, for example, can vary from dentist to dentist, depending on materials and procedure type.

Preventive care

Many dental issues can be prevented or cured with routine cleanings, X-rays and exams. Taking these steps may not only help save money on dental costs, but it can also prevent health problems such as heart disease.

While searching for promotional deals or cheaper materials can help reduce overhead, a recent group practice study by 3M found that such tactics only account for about 10% of a dentist’s overall costs. This is because lab expenses (e.g., purchasing and maintaining equipment) account for closer to 80% of overhead expenses.

The most effective way to reduce dental costs is by buying a dental insurance plan. Whether obtained through an employer or in the individual marketplace, dental insurance offers out-of-pocket cost reductions for treatments and often includes preventive services. When shopping for a dental plan, consider factors such as network coverage and monthly premiums. Also, make sure that the plan you are considering covers the types of procedures you need.

Routine exams and cleanings

Routine dental exams and cleanings remove plaque, a major cause of tooth decay, from the surface of your teeth and prevent gum disease. These appointments also help your dentist spot problems early, when they are often easier and less expensive to treat.

It is recommended that adults schedule an exam and cleaning every six months. Patients who are pregnant or have other oral health concerns may need to visit more frequently.

Many people who do not have insurance purchase a dental savings plan to cover these costs. These plans act like an insurance policy, but the patient is responsible for meeting a deductible and paying copays at each appointment.

Dental savings plans usually require an annual membership fee in exchange for discounts on dental procedures. The amount of the discount can vary between providers and plans, as well as location. The discount may be based on the national average or what is called usual and customary (U&C) for your area.


Dental fillings are used to repair a hole in the tooth caused by decay. This is an essential procedure for maintaining the health of a tooth because if left untreated, a cavity will grow bigger and can lead to tooth loss.

Silver amalgam fillings are the most common type of dental filling. They are inexpensive, durable and last more than 12 years. However, they are not a natural-looking option and may discolor over time.

Tooth-colored composite resin fillings are a more aesthetic choice but do not last as long as other options and can chip off the tooth. Glass ionomer cement is also an alternative to composite but is weaker and can wear out quickly. Porcelain dental fillings are lab-made and can be more expensive than silver. They are matched to the tooth color and resist staining, but can also cost as much as gold.


Crowns are a popular restorative treatment that improve the strength, function and appearance of a damaged tooth. They are typically used to repair cracked or severely decayed teeth or to support dental bridges and dental implants. However, they are also often used for cosmetic purposes.

Unlike fillings, which can be performed in a single visit, crowns require more time and skill to fabricate. They can cost significantly more than a basic filling, but they are often worth the investment due to their durability.

Many insurance companies cover at least part of the cost of crowns, so it is important to find an insurance friendly dentist that can help you maximize your benefits. Additionally, some dental practices offer discounts for uninsured patients or financing options through third-party vendors. Search for a dental practice near you that offers these options and more to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Root canals

Root canals are an important dental procedure that can help save your natural teeth. However, many people are surprised by how expensive they can be.

The cost of a root canal can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the infection and which tooth is affected. Generally, general dentists charge less for a root canal than endodontists.

If the tooth has been previously damaged, the follow-up procedure of installing an artificial crown may add to the overall cost. The dentist will also use different tools and techniques to repair a damaged tooth than they would on a healthy one, which can affect the final price.

If you don’t have dental insurance and are concerned about the cost of a root canal, talk to your dentist. They may be able to offer a discount or a payment plan to help ease your concerns. In addition, many dental practices partner with healthcare credit providers like CareCredit to provide low-interest financing options.


Orthodontics corrects crooked teeth, crowded teeth, jaw irregularities and other issues that can affect the bite. Although many dentists can straighten teeth with orthodontic appliances, orthodontists receive specialized training that helps them achieve better results in shorter amounts of time.

The type of braces you choose and the length of treatment will impact your overall costs. Metal braces typically cost $3,000 – $7,000. Ceramic or clear braces blend with the color of teeth and can reduce costs slightly. Invisalign aligners are also available and can be more affordable, but require longer treatment times.

While dental insurance doesn’t typically cover orthodontics, you may be able to purchase a standalone plan or find other methods of financing. You can also save money on your dental costs by taking advantage of dental discounts, which are offered by a number of providers. These plans are a great alternative to dental insurance and can help you afford the costs of orthodontics even without coverage.


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