You might be guilty of skipping out on your regular dental check-ups. This might be because you consider them unnecessary or expensive. A periodic dental exam costs $60 on average.
Perhaps you are saving that once or twice a year, but how much will you have to compensate for this neglect? And what exactly are you paying for if you decide to go in?Creative Commons
Dental exam cost
We have described the three most common dental exams in this article. Here is how much you can expect them to cost:
|Exam type||Average cost||Cost range|
Play around with the calculator to figure out your estimate.
A regular check-up costs $60 on average. The prices range from $50 up to $150.
Not taking proper care of your mouth can lead to heart troubles, diabetes, infections, and more. This means additional costs of targeting those issues.
To make sure your teeth are well taken care of you should visit the dentist regularly on top of maintaining good oral hygiene.
Dr. Jason Chong
Most patients at my office return for regular recalls at least every 6 months.
A periodic exam is something you should expect to pay for twice a year. Most offices have a set price for this procedure. You might pay a bit more if you are not a returning patient.
A comprehensive exam might cost about $100. It won’t cost less than $70 or more than $200.
A comprehensive oral exam is appropriate for new patients, patients who have had a significant change in their health conditions, or those who have not been to the dentist for over three years.
Dr. Peter March
Comprehensive exams and limited exams are typically the same cost. If it has been a long time and there are other issues, it is more cost-effective and better for overall health to have a comprehensive one. It can help find all issues rather than just dealing with one and coming back later.
The additional costs you can expect are a proper cleaning (to remove any stains, plaque and calculus), X-rays, and diagnostic procedures, as well as instructions on how to care for your teeth. You might be billed for those separately.
A comprehensive exam will likewise include a treatment plan in the case of cavities or signs of disease. This appointment will help you figure out other expenses to do with oral care.
A limited exam costs around $100. It won’t cost less than $70 or more than $200.
This type of evaluation, sometimes called an emergency exam, has the aim of targeting a particular issue.
Dr. Henry Hackney
A limited exam is the most basic evaluation, one that is often conducted in the case of emergency or walk-in patients. Any treatment that is required is billed in addition (i.e. fillings, extractions). Limited exams are almost always 100% covered by insurance.
It will end with a consultation and, if needed, a treatment plan will be devised.
|Procedure||Average cost||Cost range|
|SRP, per quadrant||$250||$150-$450|
|Oral hygiene instructions||$60||$20-$100|
|2D oral/facial photos||$80||$30-$200|
Some additional procedures might turn out to be necessary.
If it turns out that this procedure is necessary, it will have to be done beforehand. Due to insurance coding you will not be able to have your dental exam on the same day. The typical period that must elapse before the next visit for the provider to cover the costs is as many as seven days.
This procedure is rarely done. It is conducted if the dental professional can’t properly evaluate the state of the mouth due to calculus buildup.
Professional dental cleaning is a routine procedure that everyone should do twice a year. The best and most meticulous oral hygiene is not an alternative to this treatment.</>
The goal is to remove plaque and calculus. This can be done with an electric or ultrasonic device and handheld dental instruments.
It is often conveniently performed on the same visit as a periodic exam. In more extreme cases a full-mouth debridement might even be necessary beforehand. If active periodontal disease or heavy calculus under the gums is present you might need scaling and root planing as well.
Scaling and root planing
Scaling and root planing (SRP) helps target active periodontal disease. In fact, it is often the only procedure needed to resolve such an issue. If the disease has spread widely time-release antibiotics can be injected.
During this procedure, the dental professional wields a sharp hand-held tool called a curette. It is used to scrape off deposits from the teeth.
If the buildup is too heavy an ultrasonic device might be used to aid this process. After that, the root surface is polished to make it harder for new plaque to stick to it.
Oral hygiene instructions
It is common for the dentist or their assistant to give instructions on oral hygiene and care. This is especially true for patients who don’t come in for their regular check-ups twice a year.
In case of more complicated scenarios, for example when time-release antibiotics are injected into your gums, you might have to care for your mouth differently than what is usually recommended. If you are consistently doing something wrong it might also be a cause for cavities, or even periodontal disease.
This procedure, however, is problematic when it comes to unwarranted charges. It’s always a good idea to make sure you are not getting billed for things that weren’t done or that are covered by your insurance, especially if your mouth is generally healthy.
2D oral/facial photos
A dental exam is a great opportunity for non-invasive procedures that are necessary. Sometimes digital images can also be helpful in dental diagnosis.
The most common use for such photos is cosmetic in nature; extraction of wisdom teeth can greatly change the structure of the face. Other times intra-oral pictures might be taken to document plaque, gingivitis, and restorations. These can help ensure insurance will reimburse you.
Radiographs help detect gum disease and decay between the teeth, as well as problems below the gum line or in the jaw including impacted teeth, fractures, and abscesses. You can expect to pay for at least one of the following during your exam:
- a panoramic X-ray,
- a periapical,
- a bitewing, or
- an FMX (set of periapicals and bitewings).
Different types of X-rays can do different things. You can learn more here.
Does insurance cover dental exams?
Yes. It is very likely that your dental insurance plan will cover the costs of the exam. Moreover, preventative care is often reimbursed fully.
|Features||Dental Blue for Individuals: Core Plan||Cigna Dental 1000||Humana: 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)|
|Dental exam||100% covered(no deductible)||100% covered(no deductible)||100% covered(no deductible in-network), 70% covered out-of-network (after deductible)|
|Waiting period||No waiting period||6 months*||No waiting period|
|In-network dentists||Quotes provided for in-network dentists||Quotes provided for in-network dentists||Up to 28% of extra discount, but you can see any dentist|
*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.
It’s worth remembering, however, that insurance policies come with yearly maximums. These are around $1,000, which shouldn’t be a problem as regards dental exams, but if you need anything else you might reach that limit quickly.
Insurance also means a lot of paperwork. It is commonplace for procedures to be filed incorrectly, and then you might get billed. If this occurs it is always worth reaching out to your dental office. Clerical errors like this happen all the time, due to the complexity of insurance coding.
There are also ways of lowering the costs if you don’t have dental insurance. What’s more, if you do have it, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of these tips anyway!
How to save money on oral evaluation?
Dental plans are a great way to save money on all dental procedures. There are no yearly caps and no paperwork. Just a regular fee, much like a membership. In return, you get up to 60% off all dental procedures.
You can also go to a dental school, where students can perform simple procedures at a highly discounted rate. Not only might you be saving some money, but you will also be helping out a future generation of dentists!
Many patients feel like dental exams are a scam. This could be caused by bad experiences they have had. Do you think they are necessary?
Clerical errors can be extremely stressful, but, unfortunately, are pretty common. Comment down below and let us know if you’ve ever been in such a situation.