The Most Popular Dental Procedures in the U.S. (and What They’ll Cost You)

February 13, 2020

02.13 AM New Blog Post

Sad but true: 42 percent of Americans don’t see a dentist as much as they’d like, according to the American Dental Association. The survey found that dental visits rank among the medical activities people most often neglect. 

There are likely many different reasons for this, from being too busy to struggling with a debilitating fear of the dentist. But, one of the biggest reasons people neglect their dental care is cost. The fact is, quality dental care can be expensive. And, if you have a family, you can multiply the costs by three, four, or more. If someone is paying full price, out of pocket, it’s not surprising that they tend to stretch the period between visits or view dental care as a way to fix problems rather than prevent them.

However, like the car you drive, investing in regular “maintenance” for your oral health — like routine dental exams, cleanings, x-rays, and fluoride treatments — means less pain and suffering, making for a more enjoyable journey. It usually costs less in the long run, too. Unsurprisingly, many of the most commonly performed dental procedures are preventive in nature. Examples include the routine examination and professional cleaning everyone should be getting every six months.

The good news is, there are ways to make every trip to the dentist more affordable, including dental insurance, dental discount plans, and other insurance alternatives. Deciding between these options can help you settle on a cost management plan so you can afford the dental care you need. The first step in cost management is understanding the costs you’re most likely to incur, so you can make educated decisions about what you need, when, and how much it’s going to cost.

A financial breakdown of the average dental visit

The table below provides you with the information you need to start thinking about dental care cost management. Here are a few points to understand about the table: 

The services

The services listed along the left side are the most popular dental procedures performed in the United States based on annual insurance billing data. They include a good mix of routine, specialty, and emergency services. 

The standard procedure codes are included so you can compare apples to apples as you dive into your own research. However, it’s important to note that there are hundreds of other procedure codes, including many that refer to variations of the same services listed here, and the costs for each varies.

LESSON: When talking price with your dentist’s office, be sure to confirm the procedure code of any service they’re recommending. That way, there won’t be any surprises or misunderstandings.

The regions

The column headers along the top indicate what region of the country is represented. This is important because there’s a significant difference in the average price between urban and rural communities, and between the East Coast, West Coast, and everything in-between. 

To arrive at these average costs, we chose a representative zip code for each of the regions that fell roughly in the middle of that region’s figures. For example, for the West Coast - Urban region, we used a zip code in the downtown of Portland, Oregon. It’s a good-sized city, but not at the top of the region’s price range, which can be found in Los Angeles. And, there are plenty of smaller urban areas along the West Coast where prices are lower than Portland. 

Generally speaking, the cost of dental services map closely to the overall cost of living. So, the largest and busiest urban areas near you will sport the highest costs while quieter rural towns run lower. Suburban offices will trend somewhere between the two. 

LESSON: Consider these prices simply a ballpark estimate to start your search. To get actual figures you can rely on, you’ll need to supplement this information with price quotes from local offices you may want to visit. 

The full visit

Finally, it’s important to recognize that a complete visit to the dentist rarely, if ever, involves just one procedure. To provide the best service and make the most of your time, an office will often schedule a number of related procedures for the same visit. 

For example, your semiannual routine visit will likely involve a cleaning (Code: D1110), oral examination (Code: D0120), and an optional fluoride application (Code: D1208). In addition, your dentist will likely want new bitewing X-rays (Code: D0274) periodically and will order those in conjunction with a semiannual visit as well. 

So, as you can see, the costs add up quickly. And, that’s assuming nothing but the basic preventive work. If they locate a cavity, or you need to have some restorative work done, they may or may not be able to combine the needed procedures into the routine visit. Either way, the cost goes up. 

LESSON: As you do your research, group the types of procedures you’re likely to need so you know the total that each visit is likely to cost. Then, when you’re making an appointment, confirm procedure codes with the office so your (and their) expectations are clear.

 

Procedure

East Coast (urban)

East Coast (rural)

Middle America (urban)

Middle America (rural)

West Coast (urban)

West Coast (rural)

Oral Examinations

(Periodic Dental Exam for established patient - Code D0120)

$62

$60

$58

$52

$72

$64

X-Rays

(X-rays, bitewings (4 films) -- Showing upper & lower erupted crowns area of teeth in same area of mouth - Code D0274)

$79

$72

$69

$65

$80

$80

Tooth Cleanings

(Simple cleaning for Adult / prophylaxis - Code D1110)

$109

$100

$100

$96

$110

$116

Application of Fluoride

(Fluoride Gel Application to prevent cavities - Code D1208)

$47

$47

$38

$32

$49

$44

Sealants

(Sealant (per tooth) -- covering to prevent decay by filling deep grooves or sealing the top of the teeth) - Code D1351)

$67

$73

$59

$56

$66

$73

Fillings

(White Filling -- Back Tooth -- 2 surfaces - Code D2392)

$274

$256

$243

$245

$272

$294

Crowns

(Restorative Crown (or "cap") -- All Ceramic Crown - Code D2740)

$1366

$1290

$1236

$1200

$1294

$1375

Root Canals

(Root Canal -- molar - initial treatment - Code D3330)

$1335

$1105

$1200

$1198

$1341

$1417

Treatments for Gum Disease

(Gum Disease -- Ongoing treatment, maintenance - Code D4910)

$170

$155

$146

$142

$211

$170

Extractions

(Extraction or pulling of a tooth that is non-surgical -- Simple - Code D7140)

$213

$192

$190

$184

$199

$210

Emergency Relief of Pain

(Emergency service of a limited nature, to temporarily relieve pain, does not provide final treatment to cure problem - Code D9110)

$150

$142

$140

$126

$216

$181

Anesthesia

(Anesthesia -- Gas - Code D9230)

$97

$80

$70

$69

$100

$69

Consultations

(Consultation for a second opinion, or for obtaining insight from specialty training or expertise - Code D9310)

$145

$95

$135

$96

$200

$177

 

Moving ahead with dental cost management

Now that you have some ballpark figures to work with, and an understanding of how the costs can add up, it’s time to start doing some research and turn this into actionable information:

  1. Visit FairHealth to get a more accurate local average cost for any procedures you’re interested in.
  2. If you have dental insurance or belong to a dental discount program, download a list of participating providers and choose four or five offices you’re interested in visiting. If you don’t have a list to work with, just pick four or five local offices that are convenient for you.
  3. Have the above procedure codes handy and call each office to ask about pricing. If your circumstances require different procedure codes, just make sure every office is quoting their price for the same code. (Remember, apples to apples.)
  4. Ask the offices to run down which procedures they normally bundle into one visit and which, if any, require a separate visit. 

With that information in hand, you should be able to identify the least expensive dentist in your area. Of course, the cheapest doesn’t necessarily mean the best, so don’t let that be the only factor in your decision. And, in all likelihood, the difference in prices is negligible. It may make more sense to pay $5 more per exam if it means cutting 20 minutes off the drive to and from the office. 

Once you settle on a dentist you trust, start planning ahead to ensure you can effectively budget for all the routine care you and your family needs in the coming year. Partner with the office to make appointments for everyone and commit to seeing them through. That’s where all your research, planning, and preparation turns into tangible benefits: peace of mind and excellent oral health!

To save up to 50% on all of the procedures listed above and hundreds more, join the Dental Solutions dental discount plan today.

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