138 – Cost of Tooth Filling

Cost of Tooth Filling

Unfortunately, dental cavities are a common occurrence, not only in adults, but in children, as well. Because cavities must be treated to avoid further tooth decay and other complications, dental fillings are also very common in children and adults alike. The treatment of a cavity and the placement of a dental filling is a single procedure that involves removing decayed matter from the affected tooth or teeth before filling it with a dental composite or amalgam.

Each of the three basic steps of a dental filling supposes different costs and, in many cases, choices can be made that either reduce or increase the cost of the filling overall.

Costs and Materials Associated with Tooth Fillings

One of the costs associated with tooth fillings is the anesthetic used prior to the procedure. Typically, a simple local numbing agent is used before the dentist begins to clean out the affected tooth or teeth. However, particularly when the procedure involves children, the additional administration of nitrous oxide prior to beginning the procedure can help ease anxiety and help the patient relax.

The second step of a dental filling is the removal of decayed matter from the affected tooth or teeth. Costs here are mainly associated with the amount of time spent, which is directly related to how complicated or widespread the cavity is. If it is an extensive procedure affecting numerous teeth, costs will be higher than they would be for a simple cavity in a single tooth.

Finally, the choice of what kind of filling material to use can also affect the overall cost of the procedure on the materials side. While there are various materials that can be used in filling a tooth, the two most commonly used materials are dental composite and silver amalgam. Amalgam is a metal alloy that is combined with liquid mercury to form a safe, effective filling for teeth. This is what has traditionally been used for tooth fillings. While amalgam fillings are indeed perfectly safe, they are not designed to color match with one’s teeth, so the silver color of the filling can be visible at times. Composite, on the other hand, is a more modern material made of the fusion of plastic and glass. Unlike amalgam, dental composite material is made to match the color of natural teeth, creating a final product that is less noticeable. As in the other two steps of a filling procedure, choices made regarding this final step can impact the overall price.

Total Cost of a Tooth Filling

Due to preferences and choices regarding anesthetics, filling materials, and the degree of complication of the cavity, total costs of a dental filling can vary substantially. In planning for a filling to be placed, it is always a good idea to have a frank conversation with your dentist about what your options are and what each component can add – or subtract – from the total cost. You should also check with your dental insurance company to find out what they will and will not cover before committing to any decisions surrounding the procedure.