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Dental Procedure Costs How to Know What’s the Right Price

Monday - November 25th, 2019
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Estimating the costs of your dental care is difficult due to providers not being fully transparent about their pricing. Enrolling in a dental plan helps you compare prices and determine costs. Take steps toward your oral health by becoming more informed.

It’s not easy being a smart consumer when it comes to healthcare costs. With a lack of price transparency by providers, it’s challenging to know if the dental procedures you quoted for is priced at a competitive price. The good news is that dental plans make it easy to view pricing for common dental procedures so you can determine if the price you’ve been quoted is fair.

Budgeting for Dental Care

Unplanned dental procedures can be expensive, and putting off care often leads to even more costly consequences. Even if you have dental insurance, most plans only fully cover preventative services leaving you with out-of-pocket costs for more significant dental procedures such as crowns and root canals. In addition, nearly all dental insurance plans have an annual cap, so if you require extensive dental treatment, it may be difficult to budget.

Unhealthy teeth are expensive teeth. When faced with the dilemma of a budget for dental procedures, some people choose to avoid going to the dentist altogether. This plan can quickly backfire and lead to more serious oral (and general) health issues over time. One of the best ways to keep your dental costs low is to stay consistent with your professional cleanings and exams so issues can be caught and treated before they become more severe-and expensive-to treat.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) ensures that children covered under Medicaid get comprehensive dental benefits, but there isn’t a similar stipulation for adults. On another note, Medicare also doesn’t cover routine dental care or most dental procedures either.

Pricing Variations for Dental Procedures

Prices for dental procedures can vary quite a bit. Dentists establish the prices for their office’s dental procedures based on the market and specific costs of doing business for their individual practices. While most don’t post a price list for you to compare, there are some things you can do to verify that you are getting charged a fee that’s fair for the dental procedures you receive. As well so that you can understand the prices quoted and why there may be differences in those prices between providers:

  • Check the pricing surveys from professional dental organizations – Periodically, professional dental organizations such as the American Dental Association (ADA), Dental Economics and even dental insurance providers will conduct pricing surveys to determine the average costs of dental procedures for different regions of the United States. Delta Dental provides a cost estimator where you can search by zip code to receive the average cost range of a particular dental procedure in your area. By checking your quoted prices with those listed in their surveys, you can easily gauge if the price you were quoted is comparable to other dental service providers in your area.
  • Be clear regarding the nuances of different dental procedures – When you are comparing prices, be sure you are comparing the exact same dental procedures. The cost for a dental filling varies depending on the number of surfaces involved and the type of filling material used. Before assuming the lower quoted price is best, be sure you’re doing an “apples-to-apples” comparison. Also, ask your provider about the recommendations they are giving you. Why are they recommending a resin composite (typically more expensive) that is tooth-colored versus an amalgam or silver-colored filling (could by less expensive)? Price variations for crowns can also be attributed to differences in material used. Price is important, but it’s never the only consideration when deciding on the right procedure for your dental concern.
  • Call around to other providers; get a second opinion – You can confirm if your quote is fair market value for the dental procedures you need with a couple of quick calls to other providers. Be sure to keep #2 in mind so that you are comparing the exact same services.

7 Ways to Get Affordable Dental Care

There are many variables that influence the prices charged for dental procedures and many of them are out of your control. However, there are things you can do to keep your dental care affordable:

  • Your oral hygiene habits are important – The better you care for your teeth, the less likely you will need extensive dental procedures in the future. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Eating teeth-healthy foods and limiting sugar intake is also important. When you do give in to that sweet tooth, be sure to drink lots of water to flush away the sugar.
  • Visit the dentist regularly – We can’t overstate the importance of regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning appointments. Even skipping once a year could negatively impact your oral health. While you might be tempted to save money by doing without these preventative appointments, skipping out on your dental check-ups regularly can lead to higher costs in the future for more invasive dental procedures.
  • Discuss treatment options with your dentist – Many common dental issues can be treated in a variety of ways. For instance, tooth loss can be treated with removable dentures, bridges, and dental implants all of which have different costs and patient benefits. To make an informed decision on your treatment plan, make sure you know what options are available to treat your particular issue.
  • Consider enrolling in a dental plan – Dental plans are a great way to make your dental care more affordable. Most provide free exams and X-rays, plus significant discounts on other dental services when you pay a low annual fee. Dental plans typically publish their discounts which brings much needed price transparency to your healthcare costs. Enrolling in a dental plan is easy. Everyone qualifies and members can take advantage of plan discounts immediately.
  • Ask about financing options – Most dental practices offer a variety of financing plans to help patients afford the care they need. It is often possible to access care with little or no down payment. Low-interest rate and flexible financing terms make paying for your dental services as easy as possible.
  • Inquire about special offers – Many dental offices extend a new patient offer or other promotions throughout the year. Ask your provider’s office staff to find out where you could find out about any special promotions happening and how to be notified about them in the future.
  • Your provider selection – When choosing a dental provider, it’s a good idea to ask if they offer a dental plan and to inquire about pricing for specific services. Practices affiliated with larger dental organizations are often able to offer more affordable dental procedures than independent providers because they benefit from economies of scale when it comes to purchasing supplies. These groups are also more likely to have special offers or financing that can help keep prices affordable.

At Castle Dental, we understand that budgeting for dental procedures never easy. We are here to help you navigate your options and to make sure that you are prepared if you face an unexpected dental procedure. Since one of the best things you can do is be proactive with your dental care, be sure to schedule your next appointment today!