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Dental Costs: The Straight Facts

Dental Costs: The Straight Facts

updated

Searching for information about the cost of dentistry online can force you to wade through some pretty vague information. Dentists rarely publish the prices of their services on their websites. What you will find is that:

There are many factors that will influence how much your dental treatment will cost

Yes, there are many factors that will influence how much your dental treatment will cost.

And no, most dentists cannot estimate the cost of your treatment without first meeting with you and evaluating your oral health.

But it can be difficult to find straightforward answers to such basic questions as:

  • How much does high-quality dental work cost?
  • Is it worth it?
  • How exactly will you pay for it?

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room:

Dental work can be expensive.

Quality cosmetic, restorative, and general dental work can be very expensive, especially those procedures that are not covered by conventional insurance policies. However, it can also be the one of the best investments you ever make, not only in your oral health, but also in your overall health.

As one of the major points of access to your body, the mouth is exposed to a huge variety of pathogens and toxins on a daily basis. According to research from the NIDCR, dental problems are often early indicators of more systemic issues, including diabetes and immunodeficiency disorders. Addressing oral health concerns can give you a head start on ensuring your overall health. 

So how much does high-quality dental work cost?

Here’s where the somewhat annoying answer that “it depends on many factors” comes into play. The price range of certain treatments can be dramatic, but we break down the reasons for this on the individual cost pages listed below. By visiting these pages, you can get a rough idea of how much a given treatment will cost in your particular case and why.

Cosmetic Dentistry Costs

Cosmetic dentistry costs vary depending on whether you undergo a relatively simple procedure such as teeth whitening or a more advanced treatment such as porcelain veneers, which requires a high degree of customization, skill, and experience.

Cosmetic Dentistry Cost Ranges

Treatment

Low Range

High Range

Cost Details

Porcelain Veneers
(per tooth)

$800

$3,000

Porcelain Veneers Cost

Dental Bonding
(per tooth)

$100

$400

Dental Bonding Cost

Laser Gum Contouring

$300

$3,000

Laser Gum Contouring Cost

Take-home Teeth Whitening Kits

$200

$400

Teeth Whitening Cost

In-office Teeth Whitening (per session)

$300

$1,000

Teeth Whitening Cost

Because cosmetic dentistry focuses on the aesthetics of a tooth rather than the health, insurance companies typically do not pay for this type of work. Patients must pay out-of-pocket.

Read Bruce Wilderman, DDS's Take:The Factors That Affect the Cost of Porcelain Veneers

The cost of porcelain veneers is influenced by several factors, including the skill of the dentist, the location of the practice, the materials used in the veneers and whether the veneers are handmade vs machine-made. Read Full Article

Restorative Dentistry Costs

On the one hand, restorative dentistry can be the most expensive type of dentistry; on the other, it can have the greatest impact in terms of its ability to restore health and function to your mouth and improve your overall quality of life.

A number of different materials are available for restorative surgeries, each offering its particular pros and cons: base metal alloys, gold alloys, porcelain fused to metal, and all porcelain options. According to the ADA, the more durable or aesthetic options, particularly porcelain, are often more costly. 

Restorative Dentistry Cost Ranges

Procedure

Low Range

High Range

Cost Details

Dental Bridges
(per tooth)

$500 (plus cost of dental crowns)

$1,200 (plus cost of dental crowns)

Dental Bridges Cost

Dental Crowns

$500

$2,500

Dental Crowns Cost

Dental Fillings

$75

$200

Dental Fillings Cost

Inlays and Onlays

$650

$1,200

Inlays and Onlays Cost

Dental Implants (per implant-supported crown)

$3,200

$4,400

Dental Implants Cost

Read Nathaniel Podilsky, DMD's Take: The Factors that Affect the Cost of Dental Implants

The average cost of placing a single dental implant, not including the cost of a restoration (the crown, bridge, or denture), ranges from $1,800 CAD ($1,600 USD) to $2,500 CAD ($2,200 USD). Read Full Article

Orthodontics Costs

Orthodontic treatment can take the form of either traditional metal braces or clear, removable aligners such as the Invisalign® system. The costs of both methods are actually comparable; the treatment that is right for you will more likely depend on other factors such as the severity of your orthodontic issue and your insurance coverage.

The cost of orthodontic treatment generally ranges between $4,000 and $10,000.

Factors That Influence the Cost of Dentistry

The most significant factors that influence how much you will pay out-of-pocket for your dental care include:

  • the type of procedure you undergo
  • whether it is covered, at least in part, by insurance
  • the types of materials used
  • the technologies used
  • whether your procedure is performed while you are under dental sedation, which can add $225 and up to your overall cost
  • the experience, training, and skill of your dentist
  • the location of the practice

Because these factors can all have a dramatic effect on the cost of treatment, it makes sense that most practices don’t go into price without first meeting with a patient.

In general, if you are undergoing a single treatment, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars

In general, if you are undergoing a single treatment, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a custom dental crown or in-office teeth whitening to several thousand dollars for orthodontic care.

Many patients, however, require more than one treatment to address all of their dental issues.

In such cases, procedures may be combined into more comprehensive treatment plans. For example, you may decide to undergo a smile makeover. A smile makeover is really no different from any other type of makeover; its purpose is to make your smile as radiant and vibrant as possible through the combination of cosmetic treatments such as porcelain veneers, dental crowns, and teeth whitening.

On the other hand, if you are suffering from poor oral health, you may require full-mouth reconstruction with dental implants, dental bridges, and other restorative treatments.

Obviously, such treatment plans require significant investments of both time and money on the part of patients. However, many dentists offer discounted rates for patients who undergo multiple procedures, and the results are generally life altering.

Read Everett Heringer, DDS's Take: Costs Associated with Full Mouth Reconstruction

The cost can range from a small investment to the price of a new car or truck, depending on several factors. Read Full Article

The Value of Quality Dentistry: Is It Worth It?

Yes, quality dentistry is worth the cost.

There is no guarantee that a high-priced dentist will do quality work, of course; however, it is almost certain that dentists who emphasize the low costs of their services over their experience, skill, patient satisfaction rates, training, education, and safety records are cutting corners and making compromises somewhere along the line.

You don’t want to have to pay a skilled dentist to revise the work of an inexperienced, cut-rate dentist.

According to the National Coalition on Health Care, American families can spend between 6,000 and 9,000 dollars a year on dental care. For that kind of expense, patients expect and deserve quality care every time.

Ultimately, it is far more cost-effective to entrust your teeth and gums to a dental professional who will do the job right the first time, using the highest-quality materials and the most advanced techniques and technologies. According to the Colgate Oral Care Center, quality restorative work can last up to a decade or longer, depending on the materials used and a patient's dental care routine. 

The Million-Dollar Question: How Will You Pay for It?

If you focus on finding the right dentist for you, you will find a way to afford the treatment you need without straining your budget.

Naturally, the cost of dentistry is a concern for most people. Not everyone can afford to pay for porcelain veneers or implant-supported dentures out of their pockets. But if you make cost your primary concern, you risk making the quality of your care a lesser priority, which could cost you money, time, and your oral health in the long run.

You may be surprised at how willing most practices are to work with patients to make dental care more affordable on nearly any budget. Some practices offer in-house financing options and monthly payment plans while others work with third-party medical financing companies such as Compassionate Finance®. Many dental practices are willing to help you make the most of insurance coverage that you may not realize you had for certain treatments.

Here's the bottom line:

  • First and foremost, find the dentist that's right for you.
  • Second, but equally important, decide on the treatment plan that will best serve your needs and allow you to reach your goals.
  • Then, work toward finding the best possible method of payment.

Our directory contains some of the most reputable board-certified cosmetic, restorative, and general dentists in the nation. But wherever and however you find your dentist, don’t settle on less than the best in your area.

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