How Much Does a Cavity Filling Cost?

Last Updated on July 9, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Cavity fillings represent one of the most common and routine dental procedures performed to treat and repair teeth damaged by tooth decay.

Left untreated, cavities can lead to severe tooth pain, dental abscesses, tooth loss, and dangerous systemic infections. Getting timely fillings to halt decay is crucial for maintaining both short and long-term health. But what are the typical costs patients can expect to pay out-of-pocket for getting a cavity filled?

This guide examines the different cavity filling materials available, what exact costs compose an itemized filling procedure bill, how dental insurance impacts out-of-pocket expenses, little known affordable dental care options for underserved populations, and proactive prevention strategies to avoid the need for fillings altogether.

How Much Does a Cavity Filling Cost?

The cost for a cavity filling ranges from $100 to $600 per tooth depending on the filling material used, dentist fees, insurance coverage, tooth complexity, and additional factors.

Composite (Tooth-Colored) Fillings – $100 to $300 per tooth on average

Silver Amalgam Fillings – $100 to $250 per tooth typically

Gold Fillings – $500 to $2,500+ per tooth

Porcelain Fillings – $400 to $4,000 per tooth

Glass Ionomer Cement – $100 to $200 per tooth

The specific material chosen significantly impacts the final cost in addition to dentist charges, tooth size, required anesthesia, and insurance coverage percentages.

Dental Insurance Store reports that the typical cost of a dental filling in the US is between $125 and $300 per tooth. They highlight that the price can be influenced by factors such as the dentist’s location, the complexity of the procedure, and the type of filling material used. Dental Insurance Store also advises that patients with dental insurance may only be responsible for a portion of the total cost, depending on their plan coverage.

Dental Savings states that the average cost of a basic dental filling in the US ranges from $150 to $300 per tooth. They note that composite fillings are typically more expensive, costing $200 to $400 per tooth, while amalgam fillings are generally in the $150 to $300 range. Dental Savings also mentions that the final cost can be affected by the dentist’s experience, the patient’s location, and whether any additional procedures are required.

Aspen Dental reports that the typical cost of a dental filling in the US is between $150 and $300 per tooth. They highlight that the price can vary based on the type of filling material, the size of the cavity, and the complexity of the procedure. Aspen Dental also advises that patients should check with their dental insurance provider to understand their coverage and potential out-of-pocket expenses.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Cavity Fillings

  • Type of filling material selected – composite, amalgam, gold, etc.
  • Geographic location of the dental office and cost of living considerations
  • Experience level of dentist and their professional service fees
  • Size and complexity of the cavity requiring restoration
  • Need for additional interventions like root canals or dental crowns
  • Extent and limits of the patient’s dental insurance policy coverage
  • Whether general anesthesia or conscious sedation is necessary
  • Number of unique tooth surfaces requiring fillings – more surfaces equal higher costs

Cavity FixingThe condition of the tooth and restorative materials used drive prices higher for more involved fillings.

Itemized Cost Breakdown

  • Initial dental examination and necessary X-rays – $100 to $250
  • Local anesthetic injection – $50 to $200 based on needed dose
  • Tooth isolation and preparation via drilling – $50 to $200 per tooth
  • Placement of chosen filling material – $50 to $300+ depending on type
  • Bonding, shaping, and curing of the filling – $50 to $150
  • Bite adjustment and post-procedure exam – $50 to $150

Additional care like root canals or crowns may be indicated and recommended if decay is extensive.

You might also like our articles about the cost of toothpaste, tooth extraction, or dentures.

Cavity Filling Cost With Dental Insurance

  • Annual deductible amount – Often $50 to $150 per individual
  • Coinsurance percentage – Commonly 20% to 50% of the total treatment cost
  • Remaining procedure cost balance – Insurance covers up to 80% on average depending on plan

Review your policy’s coverage details thoroughly. Out-of-network dentists often cost more.

Cavity Filling Options for Uninsured Patients

  • Dental schools and clinics – 30% to 70% savings from supervised students
  • Public health and community health centers – Sliding fee scales based on income
  • Dental tourism in Mexico – Dramatically lower prices for uninsured Americans
  • Healthcare credit cards like CareCredit – Offer no-interest financing plans for dental care
  • Negotiating cash discounts with dentists – Reduced rates may be offered for paying upfront
  • Dental manufacturer rebates – Cash back for purchasing certain materials

Don’t let lack of dental insurance prevent you from seeking treatment. There are options.

Preventing Costly Fillings

  • Brushing thoroughly twice daily with a soft bristle fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing once daily to remove harmful buildup between teeth
  • Using antibacterial fluoride mouth rinse daily to kill bacteria
  • Limiting consumption of sugary sodas and snacks that feed decay-causing bacteria
  • Receiving routine dental cleanings and check-ups every 6 months
  • Having sealants applied to shield vulnerable grooves on molars
  • Addressing early signs of cavities quickly before they worsen and spread

Good at-home habits supplemented by professional care reduce lifetime filling needs, saving money.

Final Words

While often unavoidable despite good oral hygiene, the costs of cavity fillings can quickly accumulate. With diligent provider shopping, utilizing insurance, and taking advantage of affordable dental options, critical tooth decay treatments become workable for most households. Promptly fixing cavities prevents far more expensive interventions down the road.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to fill a cavity?

Most routine one or two surface cavity fillings take 20-40 minutes to fully complete, including numbing with anesthesia, tooth preparation via drilling, proper isolation, placing the filling material of choice, and setting it with a curing light. More extensive multi-surface fillings can take 45-90+ minutes depending on complexity and the number of teeth involved.

Are cavity fillings reliable?

With ongoing care including daily brushing and flossing, quality placed composite and amalgam fillings have an average lifespan of 5-15 years before needing replacement, but results vary based on the original extent of decay, bite force exerted on the tooth, oral habits like teeth grinding, and regular dental maintenance care.

What should you avoid after a cavity filling?

Dentists strongly advise avoiding chewing hard, crunchy, sticky, and excessively hot or cold foods and beverages for the first 24 hours after getting a filling. This allows complete hardening and bonding. Tobacco, alcohol, teeth grinding, and irritants should also be avoided to allow proper healing. Always follow your dentist’s post-procedure guidance closely.

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