Tooth decay, or cavities, are the second most common ailment in the entire US, right behind the common cold. In fact, 25% of adults have cavities, with more than half of teenagers developing a cavity at some point.
Tooth decay is not a one-off event in your mouth, but it is something that dentists need to deal with constantly. While root canals and cavity fillings are some of the most popular dental care procedures, they can still run a high price tag without insurance coverage.
Here is everything you need to know about the average cost of cavity filling and treatment, with or without insurance.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth. They form tiny holes (or cavities) that can begin to infect the inner pulp of a tooth. This can cause oral health complications down the line, so getting cavity treatment as soon as possible is essential.
When a cavity is just forming, you might not even notice that it’s forming. But as it starts to progress, you might notice symptoms like:
- Toothache or spontaneous pain
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Visible holes in the teeth
- Brown, black, or white standing on the surface of the tooth
- Pain when you bite down
- Mild or sharp pain when eating something sweet, hot, or cold
If a damaged tooth is caught soon enough, your dentist might be able to revert the damage without needing to give you a root canal or a filling. This is why it’s important to visit your dentist twice a year so they can monitor symptoms and nip and issues before they become severe.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are caused by tooth decay which happens over time due to poor oral hygiene and a combination of other factors. First, dental plaque forms on the teeth. This is a sticky, clear film that forms from eating a lot of sugary, starchy foods without caring for your teeth.
Over time, plaque that stays on the teeth hardens into something called tartar. This is much more difficult to remove, and it creates a shield for bacteria to do some damage. The acids in plaque remove minerals on the tooth’s hard surface called the enamel. It can then reach the next layer of your teeth called dentin, which has tiny tubes connecting to the nerves that can cause sensitivity.
If a cavity continues to do damage after this point, the bacteria can make its way into the deepest part of the tooth, called the pulp. This contains nerves and blood vessels, which can cause tons of pain and discomfort if the pulp becomes irritated by the bacteria.
Cavities are also most common on your back teeth, the molars, premolars, and wisdom teeth because they’re filled with grooves that can collect food easily. With that said, they can still form on the front teeth. Additionally, certain foods like dairy products, sugars, starches, and chips are more likely to cause cavities because they are not easily washed away by saliva.
Other risk factors include dry mouth, heartburn or acid reflux, lack of fluoride, or inadequate brushing.
How Do Cavity Fillings Work?
Cavity fillings allow your dentist to fix a cavity and prevent infection from spreading further. And if you’re worried about your first appointment, here is what you can expect for your filling procedure treatment plan.
First, the dentist will numb the gums and area around your affected tooth to ensure you are comfortable for the entire procedure. In some cases, sedation with an anesthetic may be used to put you to sleep.
Next, they may place a rubber sheet in your mouth to get easy access to the affected tooth while preventing rubber or tooth chips from getting down your throat.
Next, you might hear the sounds of a drill as they work to remove the decayed material on the tooth. When the decay is entirely gone, the cavity will finally get the tooth filling.
Types of Filling Materials
Cavity filling material is something called dental amalgam. This is composed of a mixture of metals consisting of liquid, mercury, and a metal alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. After the filling is placed, the tooth is filed and shaped to ensure that it does not interfere with your ability to bite down or chew.
Some cavity fillings are made of tooth-colored composite. A composite filling closely resembles the color of existing teeth. With that said, they are not as long-lasting as silver amalgam fillings (metal fillings) and may need to be replaced more often.
How Much Do Cavity Fillings Cost?
Cavity fillings are a simple dental procedure, but it takes a lot of steps that can run a pretty high price tag. While insurance covers the cost of most dental fillings, the amount of coverage differs depending on your plan. Additionally, they may not cover the entire cost of co-occurring procedures like root canals, and your deductible might not even make it worth it.
Not to mention, over 33% of dentate adults do not have dental coverage, meaning that there are millions of Americans without access to fillings or other routine procedures. Out-of-pocket costs for fillings can range anywhere from $200 to $600 per tooth. But the size of the cavity and the type of filling can make this price differ drastically, with prices ranging all the way up to $4,000.
You shouldn’t need to let the cost of dental fillings prevent you from feeling better. Flossy is a pay-as-you-go service that only charges you for the services you receive — and we can save you up to 50% on common dental treatments.
No membership fees, no annual premiums, and no waiting period. That means the price you see is the price you pay, and you don’t need to worry about waiting for approval to get access to your filling. Once you’re a member, book your appointment with a provider in-network to feel better than ever.
And just because services are inexpensive doesn’t mean the quality of care is low. Our providers are rigorously vetted against a set of criteria from degrees of accredited dental programs, excellent patient reviews, and expertise. You can have confidence that the care you receive is top-notch.
Other Ways To Save on Cavity Treatment
Flossy is the best way to save on out-of-pocket costs without insurance, but it’s not the only way. There are plenty of tips and tricks to save big, even without dental insurance.
Visit a Dental School
All of those talented dentists who can fix your cavities with ease needed to start somewhere. And dental schools are where most of them got their start. Dental schools allow students to practice dental services like X-rays, inlays, and fillings on actual patients for a super low cost.
This is because the students cannot earn a profit by providing services: Most of the time, you only pay for the materials used. But don’t worry; all of the sessions are monitored by a medical professional who is there to make sure that you are receiving high-quality care.
Ask About Dental Discount Plans
Some dental offices offer a discount payment plan for dental work done with them. With these, you’ll pay a monthly fee and receive discounted rates on services. This is a great option without insurance, but the major drawback is you are normally limited to seeing the provider in which you have the dental discount card.
Avoid Cavities Whenever Possible
Perhaps the best way to save money on fillings is to prevent yourself from getting them in the first place. Taking good care of your teeth through flossing and brushing, visiting your dentist twice yearly for a checkup, as well as avoiding sugary and starchy foods can all work in unison to prevent tooth decay and save you money.
Cavity fillings are one of the most effective ways to prevent and treat tooth decay. These work by filling in the holes left in your teeth after decayed tooth material is removed. While they are common, they can be expensive if you’re left to pay for them out of pocket due to a lack of a dental insurance plan.
Flossy can save you up to 50% on dental treatments, from composite resin fillings to dental implants or root canals to extraction. No membership fees or monthly premiums, so the price you see is the price you pay. Book an appointment in your area today and give yourself a reason to smile.