How much do dental X-rays cost?

Many people believe dental radiographs are not worth their price. It can be shocking to find that a full set of X-rays costs $150 on average. And spending this kind of money in one go isn’t easy.

X-rays don’t always seem necessary. When is it your business to make sure one is taken? And how much do they actually cost?

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A closer look at the cost of dental X-ray

The type of dental X-ray you need, and, of course, how many, are what impacts the price most. But only a dental professional can accurately diagnose what kind is appropriate in your case.

There are two main categories of dental X-rays: intraoral and extraoral. The prices for the can differ by a lot.

Below you can see prices for intraoral X-rays.

Intraoral X-rays typeAverage costCost range
Bitewing$35$25-$250
Periapical$35$25-$250
FMX$150$100-$300
Occlusal$50$25-$100

And prices for extraoral X-rays:

Extraoral X-rays typeAverage costCost range
Panoramic$130$100-$250
Ceph$150$70-$300
Cone-beam CT$350$150-$750

Extraoral X-rays are usually a bit more expensive. This is because they require equipment that costs a lot more. Moreover, small offices may not have the necessary tools, and you could be sent somewhere else.

If that is the case, you should be prepared for a higher fee. Dental offices do this to avoid an influx of patients who are just going to do small procedures instead of full treatment.

X-rays are almost always done to diagnose the existing condition and to accommodate some other procedure. Routine ones are usually done when you have your periodic exam or teeth cleaning since you’re at the office anyway.

Below are just a few of a wide spectrum of combinations.

Dental exam

During your dental exam, the dentist will check the overall health of your mouth and discuss any treatment you might need. Such a check-up visit is a great opportunity for a full-mouth series of X-rays (FMX).

An FMX is the most expensive of intraoral X-rays, but there’s a good reason for that. It is a set of eighteen images: four bitewings, and fourteen periapicals.

You should include an FMX in your budget once every three years. You can also expect to pay for it if you are a new patient at a dental office.

Cavity filling

There’s barely a patient out there who has never had to pay for a cavity filling. A simple bitewing is often done beforehand to ascertain how many surfaces are affected by decay.

You might also have a periapical X-ray, as it can also detect hidden caries. These two types are the cheapest X-rays.

Tooth extraction

In order to remove a tooth safely, you must have an X-ray. Sometimes a PA is sufficient, but other times you might need a panoramic X-ray. It shows the structure of the mouth as well as the direction of root growth.

This procedure helps make sure there aren’t any complications. These could cost you a lot more later.

By showing what kind of impaction is at work (if there is one) a panoramic X-ray will also give you an estimate of the price for the procedure before it happens.

Tooth alignment

Cephalometric imaging is a cost you can’t escape, since it provides vital details about the profile and the bony structures in the mouth and skull. An orthodontist can use it to measure the exact distances between roots and teeth.

You should take the price for cephalometric imaging into account not only when getting traditional braces but also with aligners such as Invisalign, Smile Direct Club, or Candid Co.

Dental implants

Dental implants require invasive dental surgery. In order to perform it safely a cone-beam CT is often performed. Bearing in mind the costs of dental implant placement, an X-ray is a small percentage of the price.

Implant placement in one of the most complicated dental procedures. Without the use of X-ray technology, it wouldn’t be possible at all. Such costs are indispensable with this type of treatment.

Does insurance cover dental X-rays?

Insurance almost always covers preventative care. This means that routine bitewings or even FMX will likely be covered. There’s even a chance that you will be reimbursed with no deductible.

Dr. Peter March
A routine FMX is included in most insurance plans. The office will check your benefits to see what is covered. If there is an issue with wisdom teeth, there may be an extra charge for a panoramic X-ray since it is the only way to diagnose properly.

What’s more, radiographs are diagnostic in nature. Even if the treatment that requires one is not preventive, there’s a good chance that the policy provider will cover at least a portion of the costs of an X-ray.

Here is an overview of how X-ray coverage works for three popular insurance providers:

FeaturesDental Blue for Individuals: Core PlanCigna Dental 1000Humana: Dental Preventive Plus PPO
Fee per person per month$35.95
(if you’re under 65)
$30 or more$20.99
(after $35 enrollment fee)
Routine X-rays (e.g. bitewing)100% covered
(no deductible)
100% covered
(no deductible)
100% covered
(no deductible in-network), 70% covered out-of-network (after deductible)
Non-routine X-rays (e.g. FMX)70%
(30% coinsurance) after deductible
80% covered
(20% coinsurance) after deductible
Not covered
(may be subject to discount)
Deductible$75$50$50
Waiting periodNone for routine and 6 months for non-routine6 months for routine and 12 months for non-routine*None for routine
In-network dentistsQuotes provided for in-network dentistsQuotes provided for in-network dentistsUp to 28% of extra discount, but you can see any dentist
Yearly cap$1,000$1,000$1,000

**If you’ve not had dental insurance for the past 12 consecutive months. Waiting periods are waived at Cigna if you’ve had valid dental insurance for a year.

Nonetheless, insurance comes with yearly caps, waiting periods, and pages of paperwork.

Are dental X-rays worth the money?

X-rays help create a record of what is going on in the mouth. This way the dentist can check and track the progress of treatment. What’s more, this way they can see what is happening inside the tooth and bone. Without X-rays modern dentistry would be impossible.

Radiographs are also great as documents you can take to other specialists for referrals or second opinions and act evidence that dental work was necessary. This makes insurance coverage possible.

FAQ

Are dental X-rays worth the money?

Dental X-rays are often paid for in full by insurance providers. Additionally, if you want coverage for more extensive procedures, they are required as evidence to prove the treatment was medically necessary.

Most such treatments such as complicated extractions or dental implants would be impossible without an X-ray. Radiographs also help uncover conditions that are not visible with the naked eye. It is the only way for your dentist to see what is going on inside your mouth without cutting it open!

What is the cheapest type of dental X-ray?

The cheapest X-ray is a bitewing. It is also the one most commonly done, in fact, it is often referred to as a “check-up X-ray”.

How much is a 3D dental X-ray?

An X-ray that creates a three-dimensional image of the mouth is called a cone-beam CT. The average price for this type of radiograph is $350 across the US.

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Disclaimer: The cost of a dental X-ray depends on numerous factors. These include the location, the experience of the person performing them, and the equipment used. The costs vary from state to state, from office to office, and even from dentist to dentist working in the same office. These prices show the average expenses involved without insurance or dental plans. We did our best to compile and take into account values from many sources, but the final decision as to which X-ray must be performed and how much to charge for it is always ultimately made by the dentist. We give no guarantee that the prices you find here are the prices your dentist will quote.