How to Reduce Your Dental Cost

Dental insurance costs can vary significantly based on plan type, location and benefits. These expenses include monthly premiums, deductibles and annual maximums.

Dental insurance usually covers 80% of preventive care and 50% of basic services like fillings. But there are other ways to reduce your costs: self-pay options, community clinics and dental discount plans.

Preventive care

Preventive services include a variety of treatment options that help to prevent disease and catch oral health issues in their early stages. These services include cleanings, x-rays and fluoride applications.

Studies have shown that regular preventive dental visits are associated with lower costs. A new study, conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers, found that dental visits were strongly associated with cost savings in patients with diabetes or coronary artery disease.

The study looked at data from 11,734 patients in a commercial health plan who received integrated preventive dental care. The researchers used a repeated measures design with individual and year fixed effects to examine the relationship between prior year preventive dental visits and nonpreventive dental visits and dental expenditures.

Routine exams

Many people go far too long between dental exams, which can cause significant problems to go undiagnosed. These issues include cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer. Regular checkups can prevent or stop these conditions from forming or progressing, which can save you money in the long run.

During routine dental exams, your dentist will also perform a head and neck exam for potential health concerns. These procedures can save you time, money, and discomfort in the future. They may even help you avoid serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Routine dental exams are covered by most dental insurance plans. However, the price of these services varies by location.


While X-rays can seem costly, they are essential for catching and preventing dental problems. Moreover, they can help you budget for future procedures by showing the status of current conditions. Furthermore, most insurance plans cover X-rays completely.

The cost of X-rays depends on the type your dentist recommends. The main types include intraoral and extraoral X-rays. Intraoral X-rays allow your dentist to examine the inside of your teeth, including the roots and jaw bones. Alternatively, your dentist may suggest a periapical X-ray that allows them to see the health of a specific tooth’s root and surrounding bone. Lastly, a panoramic X-ray presents a comprehensive view of your mouth and jaw.


Fillings help prevent tooth decay by filling in holes in the teeth that are caused by cavities. They are considered a medical necessity and are covered by most insurance service providers.

Dental filling prices vary based on the type of filling used. The cheapest materials are composite resin and amalgam fillings, but they may not be the best choice for long-term durability.

Avoiding cavities by practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular checkups is the best way to reduce dental cost in the long run. Taking care of cavities early can prevent them from becoming worse and requiring more costly treatments like root canals, crowns, or extractions. Getting dental coverage can also significantly reduce your out-of-pocket costs.


Crowns are tooth-shaped caps that encase a damaged or decayed tooth, restoring its shape, size and strength. They are frequently used after restorative procedures like root canal therapy.

Dental insurance typically covers medically necessary crowns and may cover at least 50% of their cost. However, you can reduce your out-of-pocket costs by visiting an in-network dentist or using a dental discount plan.

The cost of a dental crown will vary depending on its material and preparation. Porcelain crowns are the most expensive but provide the best aesthetic results for visible front teeth. Resin crowns are less costly but do not last as long. Zirconia crowns are a good choice for molars since they’re strong and resist wearing down of the natural tooth enamel.


Porcelain veneers are used to correct a crooked smile, cover stains and chips, and repair gaps. Although they are not a replacement for braces, they can dramatically improve a smile’s symmetry and appearance.

Composite veneers are less expensive and may require less enamel removal than porcelain ones. They are prone to staining and are not as durable, but they are still a good option for many patients.

Veneers are typically billed on a per-tooth basis, so it’s important to shop around for the best price. Be careful to avoid deals that are too good to be true. These can be signs that a dentist is trying to trick you into paying more than they should.

Root canals

Root canals are a costly dental procedure, but they are an important investment in your oral health. The procedure is necessary to treat an infected tooth and prevent more serious problems down the road. If left untreated, abscessed teeth can cause severe and debilitating pain. The cost of a root canal may be offset by dental insurance or healthcare credit providers like CareCredit.

You can also seek treatment at a dental school, which has lower prices than private practices. However, this option takes longer and will require a referral from your dentist. You can also save money by buying a dental savings plan. These plans can cover some of the cost of a root canal and dental crowns.


Orthodontics is a treatment used to correct misaligned teeth and jaws. It’s typically done in childhood while the jaw is still growing, but many adults choose to get it as well. It can be expensive, but there are ways to reduce the cost.

Dental insurance often covers part of the orthodontic treatment. In addition, a number of dental savings plans offer discounts on orthodontics.

Be sure to look for the best price. Some orthodontists charge more than others, and fees vary depending on location. You can also use pretax dollars in a flexible spending account or health savings account to help pay for orthodontics. Also, make sure that the total cost includes all emergency visits and retainers.

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