It’s no secret that seeing the dentist can be an expensive undertaking. In fact, data from the American Dental Association (ADA) and webMD shows that it’s the main reason people avoid going to the dentist at all. And despite what you might think, having an insurance policy may not affect the size of your annual bill.
So, what’s going on? One of the main reasons for dentistry becoming so expensive is the advances it’s made. As treatments and practices become more sophisticated and advanced, the cost of carrying them out rises — great for those who need access to innovative new solutions no matter what the cost, but not for those who want to secure affordable treatment.
The good news is that there are still ways to access the care you need. Let’s take a look at how you can get the dental work you need and what the cost will be without an insurance policy.
How to see a dentist without insurance
First of all, let’s run through the easiest ways to access a dentist affordably — especially for those who don’t have insurance.
Dental schools are often more affordable than private practices — and don’t worry, although dental students will be operating on you, they’re supervised by licensed dentists who monitor what they’re doing to check they’re carrying out work correctly and to a high level.
Admittedly, the experience isn’t quite the same as going to see a standard dentist. In most cases, your appointments will take longer and you’ll need multiple visits — but you may decide it’s worth it to save the money.
Another caveat is that not everyone has an accredited dental school near them. If you’re unsure of whether there’s one near you, you can check the American Dental Association website for more information.
You’re probably aware that you can’t use Medicare to pay for many elements of dental care, including fillings, extractions, dentures, and teeth cleaning. However, you can use Medicare for some services.
Medicare Part A can be used toward certain emergency dental services. Plus, individual states must give dental services to children enrolled in the program (in addition to oral screenings from physicians). This includes:
- Maintenance treatments
- The relief of infections and pain
- Repairs of decay and broken teeth
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program is a collaboration between state and federal governments that ensures children that aren’t eligible for Medicaid due to their family’s income can still access affordable healthcare. Each state has slightly different benefits.
In some states, adults are also eligible for this coverage.
Local health departments
You may be able to access more affordable dental care from local health departments — if you’re lucky, you may even be able to get it for free.
If you can’t access any of the options above, it may be worth exploring payment plans. While going into debt isn’t ideal, it’s worth considering as a last resort. Many dentists have their own payment plans, but you can also seek out financing from a third party.
For instance, you can take out interest-free financing from CareCredit for expenses of $200 or more between 6-24 months. Or, if you want to take out the loan for longer to pay back a larger sum, you could look for a low-interest plan.
How much does it cost to see a dentist without insurance?
Now, let’s see exactly how much it costs to see a dentist without insurance. This will depend on a few factors — above all, the type of treatment you need.
For instance, routine cleaning tends to cost between $75 and $200 ($120 on average) — though it can go as high as $300 if you also want an X-ray. For a deep clean of your entire mouth (which is often needed to treat gum disease), prices go between $500 and $4,000. Even those with dental insurance need to pay hundreds of dollars. This is the perfect example of why prevention is more effective than cure.
Having a dental insurance policy doesn’t necessarily give you an easy ride. For one, it can make it harder to find a dentist since some insurance providers have a limited network of providers. In other cases, you may find you have to pay more than you would otherwise, especially if you only require basic treatments that cost less than the policy. Other insurance plans have a low annual maximum, meaning it may not be worthwhile to take it out.
Below, we’ve listed the prices you can expect for some of the most common dental services.
Most insurance policies cover you having your teeth cleaned twice a year. Otherwise, you can expect to pay around $127 per appointment on average.
Composite tooth fillings can vary in prices depending on how big your cavity is and which material you choose. Composite fillings (which match the color of your teeth) typically cost between $90 and $250 per tooth, or a total cost of $150 to $450 for three or more teeth.
The average total cost is $204, but if you have dental insurance, it will cover between 50% and 80% of that.
Wisdom tooth removal
Having a single wisdom tooth removed usually costs around $150-$500 per tooth without insurance. However, if you get all four removed at once, you’ll normally get a discount.
Root canal may be one of the most-dreaded dental procedures, and it can also be expensive. Although costs vary, anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 is standard. Insurance will usually cover around half of the fee.
Having a dental crown fitted is another expensive procedure. While the exact cost will depend on the materials used, an all-porcelain crown will generally cost between $800 and $3,000. Or, if you have insurance to cover part of the cost, it will fall between $530 and $1,875.
How to find a dentist without insurance
Now we’ve got the cold, hard costs out of the way, let’s look into the best way to find the right dentist if you don’t have an insurance policy. Whatever you do, don’t skip dental care altogether because of the costs — having healthy teeth and gums is essential for leading a fulfilling life.
A good place to start is asking your family and friends for their recommendations. You could also ask any other healthcare providers you see. Once you’ve made your shortlist, contact the practices to find out how much they charge for cleanings and check-ups (without discounts from insurance). Or, if you need a specific treatment type, make sure you check the cost for that.
If you live close to an accredited dental school and are prepared to have more and longer treatments for services, you may want to investigate their pricing too.
Then, compare the costs for each option and figure out which one fits into your budget. Remember to account for at least two cleaning appointments and one checkup per year— if you can’t afford that, look for a more affordable option since these should be non-negotiable to protect your dental health.
Get booked in today
Whether you have insurance or not and no matter what your budget is, ensuring you get the right dental care should be a priority.
If you’re looking for a dentist in South Gate, California, check out Reza Dental Care. We offer a range of services, from wisdom teeth removal to dental crowns, and flexible finance options for those on a budget.