According to the American Dental Association, cost is the number one reason people won’t go to the dentist. And contrary to popular belief, the cost of a dentist without insurance isn’t much different from your annual insurance bill.
Before you look at these numbers, it’s important to remember that modern dentistry has made significant advances to improve the treatment and prevention of dental diseases.
These improvements continue to cause the cost of dental treatment to surge each year. These rising costs make it challenging for those without dental insurance to see a dentist regularly to maintain optimal oral health.
However, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There are plenty of ways you can have dental work done without having that dental insurance card.
How To Get Dental Work Done Without Insurance
Approximately 74 million Americans have no dental insurance and have to pay their dental costs out of pocket. And since most people think the cost of a dentist without insurance is beyond their reach, many people have been opting out of their bi-annual dentist visits.
Unfortunately, this can lead to more expensive treatment in the future. Lucky for you, there are several options that exist for those without dental coverage!
Let’s talk about them.
Option 1: Dental Schools
If you live near an accredited dental school, you can find quality treatment at a lower cost than private dental offices offer. These schools have clinics where dental students work under the supervision of licensed dentists. Typically, the experienced dentist checks every phase of the student’s work to ensure high-quality treatment.
Here’s the catch: you’ll probably need to see these dentist trainees more frequently. It also means more time spent in the dental chair for each visit.
You can find a list of accredited dental schools at the website of the American Dental Association.
Option 2: Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP
Every state must provide Medicaid dental benefits for children enrolled in their program. Some states also offer dental coverage for adults. When examined by a physician, children might receive an oral screening, but this does not replace the required exam by a dentist.
The minimum dental care provided to children under Medicaid includes:
- Treatment that is necessary to relieve dental pain and infections
- Restoration of broken and decayed teeth
- Procedures that are essential to maintain the child’s oral health
The federal government partners with state governments to offer affordable health coverage for children who can’t qualify for Medicaid due to their family’s income. This program is called the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. It works closely with Medicaid to offer different benefits in each state.
Option 3: Local Health Departments
Some local health departments provide free or low-cost dental services.
You can search for a federally funded clinic near you here.
Option 4: Ask About Payment Options
Suppose you have no dental insurance and no access to any other assistance. In that case, you should find a dentist that has different payment options for their services. One popular payment method accepted by many dentists is CareCredit.
CareCredit provides no-interest financing options for 6-24 months on charges over $200. You can also take advantage of longer-term financing at reduced interest rates for more expensive dental fees.
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How Much is a Dentist Visit Without Insurance?
The cost of a dentist visit without insurance depends on the service you need. A routine cleaning can cost $75-$200 with an average cost of $127. When this appointment includes dental x-rays, the price can reach $300 or more.
If you need a more extensive cleaning (known as deep cleaning) expect to pay $500-$4,000 for your entire mouth. Even with dental insurance, you likely will pay several hundred dollars for this procedure. This highlights the importance of preventing gum disease rather than treating it.
Sometimes the cost of a dentist without insurance is more affordable than the monthly insurance premiums. This is especially true if all you need each year is basic services such as exams and cleanings.
Even if you do have insurance, you could end up purchasing insurance with a limited provider network. This makes finding a dentist more difficult. Some dental plans have a low annual maximum that makes paying their monthly premium unappealing.
Here is a list of national prices for standard dental procedures that can help you make your decision:
Insurance usually pays all the fees for cleanings twice each year. Standard cleaning from a dental hygienist, on average, should cost about $127.
The cost of a filling depends on the size of the cavity and the material used for the filling. Composite, or tooth-colored fillings, can cost $90-$250 to restore one surface and $150-$450 to restore three or more surfaces.
Dental insurance usually pays 50-80% of the fee, and the average cost without insurance is $204.
Having all your wisdom teeth removed at the same time is cost-effective. Without a discount for removing all four, expect to pay around $416 per tooth if you have insurance and $250-$750 without insurance.
4. Endodontic Treatment (Root Canal)
The cost of root canal treatment can vary considerably depending on the experience of the dentist. Good dental insurance may help pay approximately 50% of the fee, ranging from $1000-$2000.
5. Dental Crown
The materials used to make your crown determine the cost. Patients with dental insurance can pay $530-$1,875 out of pocket for an all-porcelain crown. If you don’t have dental coverage, you can pay $800-$3,000 for this procedure.
Steps On How To Go To The Dentist Without Insurance
Finding a good dentist who can provide high-quality dental care helps you maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. If you don’t have a dentist and don’t have dental insurance, here are the steps to take:
- Compose a list of good dentists. Ask friends, family, and other healthcare providers for the names of their dentists.
- Call these dental offices and ask for their out-of-pocket prices for routine check-ups and cleanings. If you know of any specific dental treatments you need, ask for those prices.
- If you live near a dental school and don’t mind the extra time this option requires, get their prices.
- Evaluate the costs of each dentist considering your budget.
- Choose the best dentist that you can afford. Make sure that the cost of getting an exam and cleaning twice each year fits into your budget. This is critical for your oral health, and it also helps prevent expensive dental problems from developing between dental visits.