dental cost can add up quickly, especially if you don’t have dental insurance. When shopping for a dental plan on the marketplace or exchange, keep in mind costs like deductibles, co-insurance and annual maximums.

Most medical plans don’t include dental coverage, so it’s important to find a separate dental plan. Some options include:

Preventive care

Regular dental checkups can catch health issues early and prevent them from progressing. This can save patients time, money and pain in the long run. It also prevents costly, avoidable procedures like tooth extractions and crowns. However, many people do not take advantage of this opportunity due to concerns over cost.

A new Mayo Clinic-led study suggests that dental care costs less than many people assume. The research analyzed medical and dental claim data from a large Medicaid enrollee group to see how different utilization patterns impact dental health outcomes and costs.

It found that those who receive regular preventive care, such as oral exams and cleanings, require fewer major dental services over a three-year period. In contrast, those who skip preventive care are more likely to reach their dental plan maximum and are responsible for much higher claim costs than those who consistently utilize preventive care.


X-rays are a critical preventative tool, allowing dentists to detect issues that may not be visible during a clinical oral exam. This can help them keep procedures as minimally invasive as possible, and ensure that patients get the best treatment possible.

There are several factors that affect dental X-ray prices, including the type of X-ray and insurance reimbursement. For example, a panoramic X-ray costs more than a bitewing X-ray. The equipment used also impacts cost.

X-rays are worth the investment, especially considering that they can save patients from more costly treatments in the future. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers cover the cost of routine X-rays.


The cost of fillings depends on a variety of factors, including the type and material used. Silver amalgam fillings, which are the least expensive, typically cost $100 to $250 for one or two tooth surfaces and $155 to $472 for three or more. Synthetic resin composites, which match enamel and are better for incisor teeth, are more costly, but they also last longer than metals.

Dental insurance policies often cover about 80% of the cost of cavity fillings after you’ve met your annual deductible. However, it’s important to check your policy before you receive a filling because it may have annual maximums and minimums.

Patients without insurance can ask their dentists about a payment plan or consider using funds from their HSA or FSA accounts (health savings or flexible spending accounts, which take money out of an employee’s paycheck before it is taxed). Patients can also purchase credit cards designed to be used exclusively at the dentist.


Crowns, also known as caps, are placed over a damaged tooth to restore its shape and size, strength and function. They are commonly used to repair broken teeth, but can also be used to support dental bridges and cover dental implants. Crowns can also be used for cosmetic reasons to improve the appearance of a discolored or misshapen tooth.

Dental crowns are often covered by dental insurance, but the exact coverage will vary. For example, an insurance company may only cover half of the cost for a crown, while the patient is responsible for the other half.

You can save on the cost of dental crowns by shopping around for the best prices. You can also ask your dentist if they offer any discounts or coupons for the procedure. If you don’t have insurance, you can try looking for a dental financing plan with low monthly payments.

Root canals

A root canal is an expensive dental procedure, but it’s often worth the investment to save a natural tooth from needing replacement and avoiding other long-term problems. Those without dental insurance might be able to find a payment plan or in-house discount program that will help reduce the cost of treatment.

X-rays, visit fees, anesthesia, and a crown are all factors that can drive up the cost of a root canal. These procedures also require specialized equipment and expertise, which add to the price tag.

Many dentists will run specials and promotions to reduce the cost of a root canal from time to time, but that’s not an alternative to using your dental insurance. If you have a dental savings account, you can use it to pay for root canals and other costly dental treatments. If you don’t have insurance, you can also use personal loans and credit cards to cover the costs of dental procedures.


Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that corrects misaligned teeth and jaws. It’s most often used by youths, but a growing number of adults are seeing an orthodontist as well. Typically, orthodontic treatment involves braces, which can be expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the cost of orthodontic care.

First, look for an orthodontist that offers a payment plan or low-fee financing options. You can also take advantage of a flexible spending account or health savings account. This allows you to make monthly payments on a high-ticket item like braces.

Another way to save is to purchase dental insurance that includes orthodontic coverage. For example, Cigna’s dental insurance plans include orthodontia as an optional rider. When I requested quotes for a family of four in Southern California, the only three plans I received included coverage for orthodontics. I also found that several dental savings plans also offer discounts on orthodontics.

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