Regular professional teeth cleanings and dental X-rays are crucial for maintaining oral health. But without dental insurance coverage, these preventive services can be increase the cost of treatment for patients paying out-of-pocket.
Most insurance policies help pay for routine dental cleanings either once or twice per year. This is because cleanings are usually categorized as diagnostic and preventive or basic services. This determines the percentage of the cost that insurance covers. But uUninsured patients must pay the dentist’s full cleaning fees out of pocket, which can range from $70-$200 per visit or more.
Standard dental X-rays, on the other hand, may be covered to some extent by dental insurance plans. Generally, most dental insurance plans help pay for routine bitewing X-rays taken once or twice per year as part of regular preventive dental care. The cost of X-rays varies widely depending on the type.
Dental Cleaning Costs
a. With Insurance
Standard dental cleanings are typically covered by dental insurance plans on an annual or semi-annual basis, and depending on their categorization as diagnostic and preventive or basic services. This influences the percentage of the cost that insurance covers.
Covered percentages for preventive cleanings are usually higher, around 80-100%, compared to that for basic cleanings where plans may cover 50-80%.
Insurance companies reimburse a set negotiated amount for cleaning services based on provider contracts, not the full fee charged. As such, patients are responsible for paying any deductible and coinsurance costs for cleanings until reaching the yearly plan maximum.
Keep in mind that more frequent cleanings than the policy allowance are typically not covered. Standard frequencies are once every 6 or 12 months.
Moreover, is you require more extensive periodontal cleanings for gum disease treatment, you may have lower or no coverage compared to standard prophylactic cleanings.
b. Without Insurance
A regular dental cleaning involves plaque and tartar removal from teeth followed by polishing. Typical costs are:
This costs about $70-$200 per visit. The American Dental Association reports an average fee of $164.
The typical cost is $60-$170 per visit. Younger patients take less time.
You can expect to pay $80-$250 per visit. Periodontists charge more than general dentists.
Cost increases for more time-consuming deep cleanings if periodontal disease is present. Multiple visits may be required.
a. With Insurance
Standard dental X-rays are typically covered to some extent by dental insurance plans. Generally, most dental insurance plans help pay for routine bitewing X-rays taken once or twice per year as part of regular preventive dental care.
Panoramic X-rays or full mouth series X-rays needed less frequently are also usually covered, but often only once every 5 years.
Periapical X-rays and cone beam CT scans needed for specific diagnoses may or may not be covered depending on the plan, since many insurers consider these procedures elective.
Covered X-rays may fall under basic, preventive, or diagnostic categories depending on the insurer. This affects the percentage they cover. If you have a dental plan, it will likely reimburse a set agreed amount per X-ray type, leaving the remainder as the patient’s responsibility.
Keep in mind that annnual dollar maximums on X-rays may limit the total amounts an insurer will pay within a policy period. Patients should still expect to pay deductibles as well as coinsurance percentages for covered X-rays until reaching plan limits.
b. Without Insurance
Uninsured patients pay the dentist’s full fees for X-rays, which vary regionally. Dental savings plans can reduce costs.
The actual cost depends on the type:
- Bitewing X-rays – $10-$75 per set of films (usually 4).
- Periapical X-rays – $8-$75 per image, varying based on number of images.
- Full mouth X-ray – $100-$400 for a complete series.
- Panoramic X-ray – $100-$250 per image.
- CBCT scan – $300-$600 per scan.
Other Preventive Dental Costs
Additional preventive services and typical costs are:
- Exams – $50-$200 for periodic exams to check dental health.
- Fluoride – $15-$40 per fluoride treatment to strengthen enamel.
- Sealants – $30-$80 per tooth depending on type of sealant used.
- Mouthguards – $15-$75 per custom nightguard for protecting teeth.
Reducing Dental Costs without Insurance
Ways to reduce costs of dental care without coverage include:
- Seeing a dental school clinic for reduced cost cleanings and X-rays. Students are supervised.
- Checking for discounted services from community dental clinics.
- Looking for dental office membership savings plans that provide set fees for services.
- Paying cash prices rather than higher credit card fees.
- Getting cosmetic services like teeth whitening from over the counter products instead.
- Practicing excellent oral hygiene to extend time between professional cleanings.
- Considering financing options like personal loans or dental credit cards.
While getting preventive dental care without insurance can be pricey, visiting your dentist regularly remains essential for oral health. Explore ways to reduce costs or discuss a personalized care plan with your dentist within your budget. Consistent care now prevents much costlier treatments later.