Dental work can be expensive, but you can budget for the costs of necessary procedures with some planning. Consider a dental savings plan or backup solutions like CareCredit.
Ask friends, family and colleagues for recommendations on dentists in your area. Call these offices to find out their prices for routine cleanings and other services.
If you take proper care of your teeth and gums, brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and getting your 6-month cleanings, you can significantly reduce dental cost. In fact, according to Cigna Health, adults who practice good preventive oral health can save 31% in dental costs over five years.
Preventive dental care includes services like exams, screenings, and cleanings that can help detect and intercept disease. It also encompasses a wide range of treatment options that can stop the progression of a disease or condition, such as x-rays, root canal therapy, and periodontal surgery. Unfortunately, many people avoid or delay preventive care because of cost. And that can be costly, both for the patient and the healthcare system.
Dental insurance can be a great way to cut costs, especially for routine care and non-major dental procedures. But, some people are put off by the high monthly premiums that come with dental coverage. But a study by the insurance industry found that paying out-of-pocket for dental care is far more expensive than having a dental insurance plan, even when you consider only the cost of a major procedure.
Mayo Clinic researchers followed 11,734 patients enrolled in a commercial health care plan in Arkansas that included preventive dental care. The researchers compared the medical and dental costs of those who used the preventive care with those who did not. The results were clear: those who used the dental preventive care saved money, particularly with regard to diabetes and coronary artery disease.
The direct treatment costs of dental disease and other issues that can only be addressed with a visit to the dentist are substantial. Typical direct costs for services include cleanings, which are on average about $127 per visit (dental insurance usually pays around 80 percent). Dental fillings can cost $90-$250 to repair one tooth surface or $150-$450 for three or more surfaces. Dental crowns can cost $500 to $1,200 each and dentures $2,000 or more.
When the dentist presents you with a proposed treatment plan, ask for a written estimate of the cost before agreeing to it. Be sure to ask about any deductibles and annual maximums for your dental insurance plan.
If you aren’t able to afford to pay for dental work immediately, consider charging the treatment on a credit card. While this may not be ideal for your long-term financial health, it can help you get the care you need now and pay the bill later.
Some private dental practices offer their own “dental insurance” plans that act as a discount program to help patients manage their dental costs. These types of dental membership plans typically have lower rates than traditional dental insurance, and they are usually easy to sign up for. In addition, some community clinics and government programs like Medicaid provide access to dental care at reduced or no charge for those without insurance or who can’t afford to pay for their own care.
Having the right equipment is vital to providing quality dental care. Whether you need to replace outdated tools or invest in new technology, having the best equipment can help your practice operate at maximum efficiency and attract patients. When choosing equipment, make sure to consider its upfront costs and long-term value. Often, the initial investment will pay off in savings over time.
The most expensive dental equipment includes digital imaging systems, like CBCT, which allow dentists to diagnose complex dental problems by taking detailed images of the patient’s jaw and facial bones. These systems are also used to plan dental procedures, which can reduce the number of visits and overall cost for a patient.
Other highly expensive dental equipment is digital X-ray units, which can detect tooth decay, fractures and tumors. Despite their high price tag, these units are considered essential in the treatment of dental diseases. They are also increasingly being used in the prevention of oral cancer.
Dental offices are experiencing a double whammy of lingering COVID-19 supply chain issues and tight labor markets, which is resulting in increased prices for medical supplies, including personal protective equipment. Many dentists reported that the prices of PPE have doubled or even tripled. In addition to this, the prices of basic office supplies are rising. This is making it more difficult for practices to stay profitable as they struggle to offset these rising costs.
Dental insurance — available through your employer or purchased individually — can reduce the cost of regular checkups, which can catch problems early and prevent larger issues down the road. But even with dental coverage, there are still costs to consider.
Like health insurance, dental plans typically have deductibles and coinsurance. Deductibles are the amount you must pay before the plan begins to cover a service, and coinsurance is the percentage of the bill the plan pays after your deductible has been met. Plans often cover 100% of preventive care, 80% of basic services like fillings and 50% of more extensive work such as crowns.
A portion of dental insurance premiums goes to paying the negotiated fee that dentists agree to with the plan. This fee is known as the “usual, customary and reasonable” (UCR) rate and is adjusted based on things like location, material prices and the average fees charged in the area.
Most dental plans have a yearly maximum and waiting periods for major treatments. For example, most dental plans require you to meet a deductible before they begin covering the cost of root canals. Currently, Medicare Part B does not provide coverage for dental services, though the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) would add this benefit starting in 2025.