A. How Much Does It Cost To Go To The Dentist Without Insurance?
According to the American Dental Association, cost is the number one reason people don’t go to the dentist. And contrary to popular belief, the cost of an uninsured dentist isn’t much different than your annual insurance bill. Before we look at these numbers, it’s important to remember that modern dentistry has made significant strides in improving the treatment and prevention of dental disease.
These improvements continue to cause the cost of dental care to increase each year. These rising costs make it a challenge for those without dental insurance to see a dentist regularly to maintain optimal oral health. However, this does not mean that all hope is lost. There are many ways to get dental treatment without having that dental insurance card.
1. How to get dental treatment without insurance
Approximately 74 million Americans do not have dental insurance and must pay for their dental expenses out of pocket. And since most people think that the cost of an uninsured dentist is prohibitive, many people choose not to make their biannual visits to the dentist. Unfortunately, this can lead to more expensive treatments in the future. Fortunately, there are several options for those who don’t have dental insurance!
a. Option 1: Faculty of Dentistry
By living near an accredited dental school, you can find quality treatment at a lower cost than private dental practices. These schools have clinics where dental students work under the supervision of licensed dentists. Typically, the experienced dentist reviews all stages of the student’s work to ensure quality treatment. Here’s the catch: you probably need to see these dental interns more often. It also means more time is spent in the chair at each visit.
b. Option 2: Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP
Medicare doesn’t pay for most routine dental treatments like cleanings, fillings, dentures, and extractions. Medicare Part A covers some emergency dental care provided in a hospital setting. All states are required to provide Medicaid dental benefits to children participating in the program. Some states also offer adult dental care. In the case of a medical examination, an oral check-up can be carried out on children, but this does not replace the prescribed dental examination.
Minimum children’s dental coverage under Medicaid includes:
- Treatment needed to relieve toothache and infection
- Restoration of broken and decayed teeth
- Essential procedures for maintaining a child’s oral health
The federal government works with state governments to provide affordable health insurance for children who may not be eligible for Medicaid based on family income. This program is called the National Children’s Health Insurance Program. It works closely with Medicaid to offer different benefits in each state.
c. Option 3: Local Health Departments
Some local health departments offer free or low-cost dental services. You can search for a government-funded clinic near you.
d. Option 4: Ask about payment options
Suppose you don’t have dental insurance and you don’t have access to other resources. In this case, you should find a dentist that offers various payment options for their services. A popular payment method accepted by many dentists is CareCredit. CareCredit offers interest-free financing options for 6 to 24 months with fees over $200. You can also take out long-term financing at reduced interest rates for more expensive dentist fees.
2. How much does a visit to the dentist cost without insurance?
The cost of an uninsured dental visit depends on the service you need. A routine cleaning can cost $75 to $200, with an average cost of $127. If this appointment includes dental X-rays, the price can be $300 or more. If you need a more thorough cleaning (known as a deep clean), expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $4,000 for your entire mouth. Even with dental insurance, you are likely to pay several hundred dollars for this procedure. This underscores the importance of preventing rather than treating gum disease.
Sometimes the cost of an uninsured dentist is cheaper than the monthly insurance premiums. This is especially true if you only need basic services like exams and cleanings every year. This makes finding a dentist difficult. Some dental plans have a low annual cap, making paying the monthly premium unattractive.
Here is a list of national standard dental treatment prices to help you decide:
a. Teeth cleaning
Insurance usually pays all cleaning fees twice a year. A standard cleaning by a dental hygienist should cost around $127 on average.
b. Composite tooth filling
The cost of a filling depends on the size of the cavity and the material used for the filling. Composite or tooth-colored fillings can cost $90 to $250 to restore one surface and $150 to $450 to restore three or more surfaces.
Dental insurance typically pays 50-80% of the fee, and the average uninsured cost is $204.
c. Wisdom tooth removal
Removing all wisdom teeth at once is inexpensive. Without the discount for removing all four teeth, expect to pay about $416 per tooth if you have insurance, and $250 to $750 without insurance.
d. Endodontic treatment (root canal)
The cost of root canal treatment can vary widely depending on the dentist’s experience. A good dental insurance policy can cover about 50% of the fee, which ranges from $1,000 to $2,000.
e. Tooth crown
The materials used to make your crown will determine the cost. Patients with dental insurance can pay $530 to $1,875 out of pocket for an all-porcelain crown. If you don’t have dental insurance, you can pay anywhere from $800 to $3,000 for this procedure.
3. How to go to the dentist without insurance
Finding a good dentist who can provide quality dental care will help keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. If you don’t have a dentist or dental insurance, here’s what to do:
- Make a list of good dentists. Ask friends, family, and other healthcare professionals for the names of their dentists.
- Call these dental offices and ask about deductible rates for routine checkups and cleanings. If you know of a specific dental treatment you need, ask about these prices.
- If you live near a dental school and don’t mind the extra time this option requires, get your price.
- Evaluate the cost of each dentist considering your budget.
- Choose the best dentist you can afford. Make sure the cost of a twice-yearly inspection and cleaning fits within your budget. This is crucial to your oral health and also helps avoid costly dental problems between dental visits.
B. How To Manage Dental Costs Without Insurance
If you don’t have insurance, going to the dentist can be expensive. Luckily, there are ways to reduce dental expenses and still get the care you need. Below we describe how to find discounts on dental treatments.
1. How much does uninsured dental treatment cost?
How much dental treatment costs usually depends on where you live. According to Humana, the cost of a basic teeth cleaning typically ranges from $75 to $200, while white fillings for one or two teeth range from $90 to $250. Metal crowns average $500 to $1,500, white porcelain crowns $800 to $2,000 per tooth. Root canals in molars average $800 to $1,500 per tooth. Dentures are also expensive. If you live in Ft. Myers, Florida, for example, you can expect a full top set to cost $1,957 to $2,406, while a bottom set will cost $1,920 to $2,312.
2. How can you take care of your teeth if you can’t afford to go to the dentist regularly?
Good dental hygiene can go a long way in keeping your dental costs down. Brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day not only prevents tooth decay, but also keeps your gums healthy.
Taking care of your gums is just as important as taking care of your teeth. That’s because severe gum disease has been linked to:
- Heart disease
- Other serious illnesses
Even if you brush and floss your teeth regularly, dentists recommend a check-up that not only checks for tooth decay, but also for gum disease and oral cancer at least once a year.
You can also help keep dental problems under control:
- Eat healthy
- Avoiding sugary drinks
- Drink fluoride water
- If you smoke, seek help to quit or quit smoking
- Cleaning all types of dentures that you use on a daily basis
The American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy website has a variety of articles and tips on how to maintain a healthy smile at any age.
3. Which diseases make dental care particularly important?
People with diabetes should visit their dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning as they are more likely to develop gum disease. Studies have shown that regular cleanings can also help keep blood sugar levels in check, according to the American Dental Association. Cancer patients also need to monitor their oral health, as chemotherapy and radiation treatments can make them more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth sores that can lead to infection. Smokers should also make an effort to visit the dentist to get checked for gum disease and oral cancer, as they are at higher risk for these conditions.
4. Where can you get free or low-cost dental care?
Dental schools are a great way to access quality dental care at a lower cost. Most dental schools operate outpatient clinics under the supervision of dentists and dentists who offer a wide range of dental procedures at significant discounts. Many states also allow dental hygienists to perform routine dental procedures such as cleanings and basic exams. The procedures that dental hygienists can perform vary from state to state.
Federally funded community health centers may also offer inexpensive dental care. Fees are often tiered. The Dental Lifeline Network is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing much-needed dental services to people age 65 and older, people with disabilities and those who are medically vulnerable through its network of volunteer dentists. However, waiting lists can be long.
Medicaid is the state health insurance program for people on low incomes. If you qualify for Medicaid, it must cover children’s dental services, no matter what state you live in. Some Medicaid programs also cover adult dental services. The hard part can be finding a dentist that accepts Medicaid. You can use DentaQuest’s Find a Dentist tool to find one that accepts Medicaid in your area.
5. What is a dental savings plan?
Dental savings plans offer subscribers hefty discounts on dental treatments at participating dentists. Subscribers pay a small monthly fee and can receive discounts of up to 60% on routine procedures. Savings plans are offered by many well-known healthcare companies such as Cigna or Aetna. Some dental practices also offer their patients their own rates. Dental savings plans should not be confused with dental insurance plans, which work like traditional health insurance.
6. Can you negotiate the cost of dental treatment with a dentist?
It’s also worth talking directly to your dentist about how you can save on routine procedures and care. Many dentists offer payment plans or a discount if you pay the full cost up front. You can also customize treatment plans to make them more affordable. Some dentists also offer membership programs. For an annual fee, patients are entitled to free or low-cost routine procedures, such as cleanings and exams. Many programs also offer discounts on more expensive procedures.
7. The bottom line
Good oral hygiene can reduce your dental bills, but you should still try to see a dentist at least once a year to check for tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, should see a dentist more often. Dental schools and community health centers are good places to find discounted services. You can also reduce your bills by signing up for a dentist savings plan or membership program, or by asking your dentist about adjusting your treatment plan.