In the United States, the average cavity filling cost is approximately $236. On the low end, the cost of a filling may be around $171 while on the high end the cost of a filling can be as much as $324. This article breaks down data from over 1,000 dentists from across the United States, and details the cost of a tooth filling, to help patients make an informed decision about their oral health. It will also discuss the different factors that can affect the cost of a filling so that patients never receive surprise bills in the mail.
What is a Dental Filling?
A dental filling is a treatment to restore a tooth that has been damaged by decay. It is essentially a portion of your tooth where a cavity has formed that has been patched or replaced. In cases where the cavity has not gotten too large, a dental filling will restore the damaged portion of your decaying tooth, making it appear and function properly.
When receiving a dental filling, first the cavity (or dental caries) is cleaned out, then the filling material is placed in the cavity, or hole, that the decay has created.
What Factors Affect the Cost of a Cavity Filling?
Size of the Cavity
The size of the cavity is one of the main factors that will affect the cost of the filling. However, the dimensions of the cavity are not measured in determining price, but rather the number of surfaces that the filling is involved in. Typically, the more surfaces that are involved in the cavity filling, the larger the cavity and the more expensive it becomes.
Location of the Cavity
The location of the cavity also affects the cost. This is once again reflected in the number of surfaces that the filling is involved in. A cavity that is in a visible area, such as on a front tooth, may involve only one surface of the tooth. If you have a cavity between your teeth, your dentist will need to go through the top of the tooth to access it, so your restoration will be a two-surface filling.
Filling Material Used
The type of filling material used also affects the cost. The most common type of filling material is an amalgam filling, which is made from silver and mercury. These fillings are silver in colour and clearly visible in the tooth. Amalgam fillings are less expensive than other types of fillings.
The second most common filling material is composite resin. Composite resin is a tooth-coloured material made from plastic and ceramic. These fillings are less visible in the tooth than amalgam fillings and are more expensive. However, the aesthetically pleasing appearance of composite resin fillings has made them the preferred choice for many patients.
Location of Tooth
Another factor that affects the cost of a cavity filling is the location of the tooth. Teeth in the back of the mouth, such as molars, are typically more difficult to access and require more time to fill. As a result, back teeth are usually more expensive to fill than front teeth.
Location of the Dentist
The geographic location of the dentist also affects the cost of a cavity filling. Dentists in rural areas typically charge less for their services than dentists in urban areas. This is because the cost of living in rural areas is usually lower than in urban areas, so dentists can charge less and still make a profit.
What are the Average Cavity Filling Costs Based on These Factors?
Although there are various factors affecting the cost of a filling, we can take a look at the average costs from current dental offices to help inform our decision-making. The following data is from a survey completed by over 1,000 dentists from across the United States:
|Type of Filling||Average Tooth Filling Cost ($)||Low-End Tooth Filling Cost (10th percentile)||High-End Tooth Filling Cost (90th percentile)|
|Silver Filling: 1 Tooth Surface||146||104||200|
|Silver Filling: 2 Tooth Surfaces||182||130||250|
|Silver Filling: 3 Tooth Surfaces||218||155||305|
|Silver Filling: 4 Tooth Surfaces||257||180||362|
|White Filling: 1 Tooth Surface (Front Teeth)||174||130||247|
|White Filling: 2 Tooth Surfaces (Front Teeth)||212||159||293|
|White Filling: 3 Tooth Surfaces (Front Teeth)||256||189||350|
|White Filling: 4 Tooth Surfaces (Front Teeth)||310||220||430|
|White Filling: 1 Tooth Surface (Back Teeth)||191||144||260|
|White Filling: 2 Tooth Surfaces (Back Teeth)||242||180||332|
|White Filling: 3 Tooth Surfaces (Back Teeth)||295||218||401|
|White Filling: 4 Tooth Surfaces (Back Teeth)||344||250||472|
|Average Cavity Filling Cost||236||171||325|
For a full breakdown of all dental procedure costs click here.
How can I get a Cheap Filling?
If left unchecked, a cavity can continue to grow and may cause further damage to the tooth, requiring more involved and expensive procedures such as a root canal or extraction. If a cavity has progressed to the stage that it needs to be treated, treating it earlier rather than later is of extreme importance. However, at the end of the day, dental fillings are extremely expensive. To help reduce the cost of a filling there are a few options:
One way to get a cheap filling is to go to a dental school. Dental schools are educational institutions that train students to become dentists. They typically have clinics where students can gain hands-on experience treating patients. The treatments provided at these clinics are usually very cheap or even free. However, the downside is that students typically are much slower and less experienced than practicing dentists.
Community Dental Clinics
Another option for getting a cheap filling is to go to a community dental clinic. Community dental clinics are non-profit organizations that provide dental care to underserved communities. They typically offer their services at a reduced cost or even for free. However, the downside is that these clinics are often very busy and have long waitlists.
There are a few organizations that provide free cavity fillings to low-income individuals. One such organization is the Dental Lifeline Network. The Dental Lifeline Network is a non-profit organization that provides free dental care to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Another organization that provides free cavity fillings is the Give a Kid a Smile Program from the American Dental Association. The Give a Kid a Smile Program is a non-profit organization that provides free dental health education, screenings, preventive care, and/or treatment for kids.
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) are organizations that provide health insurance coverage to their members. Many HMOs have dental plans that cover the cost of dental fillings. However, the downside is that HMOs often have a limited network of dentists that they work with.
Dental Discount Plans
Another option for getting a cheap filling is to sign up for a dental discount plan. Dental discount plans are not insurance plans, but rather membership plans that offer discounts on dental services from a network of dentists. These plans typically have an annual fee that entitles the member to a certain percentage off of dental services. The downside is that dental discount plans often have a limited network of dentists that they work with.
The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nothing on this website constitutes the practice of medicine, law or any other regulated profession.
No two mouths are the same, and each oral situation is unique. As such, it isn’t possible to give comprehensive advice or diagnose oral conditions based on articles alone. The best way to ensure you’re getting the best dental care possible is to visit a dentist in person for an examination and consultation.