Scaling and Root Planing Costs: Saving Money on Dental Deep Cleaning

If you want to save money on dental deep cleaning, you’ve got to do your research.

We will do our best to help you with that here.  First, we’ll give you an in-depth breakdown on scaling and root planing costs.  Then we’ll show you all of the best ways to reduce dental deep cleaning costs as much as possible.

We’ll go ahead and let you know up front that dental deep cleaning is expensive.  However, there are a variety of things you can do to help mitigate the costs.

A lower bill always makes dental procedures less intimidating.

How Much Does Scaling and Root Planing Cost?

Scaling and root planing is the primary treatment used to fight periodontal disease.

Dental deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing or deep perio cleaning, may cost $400-$4,000 for your whole mouth.  Divide that by four if you only need a single quadrant (¼ of your teeth).

A variety of factors contribute to this wide range—some to do with your chosen dentist and some to do with you.

The procedure itself consists of two parts.

Scaling is the removal of plaque and tartar from your teeth.  In this case, this scaling happens at and below your gumline.  Root scaling is essentially the same as basic dental cleaning, but for your roots.

Root planing is the smoothing of all rough areas on your roots.  This makes it much more difficult for plaque and tartar to reattach to your roots.

General dentists can handle preventative scaling and root planing.  In fact, they might even allow one of their hygienists to do it.  However, you may need to see a periodontist if your roots are in very bad condition.

A periodontist may charge 20-30% more than a general dentist.  However, they are gum experts and have three additional years of schooling beyond a general dentist.  They even perform different surgical periodontal procedures.

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Although non-surgical, scaling and root planning usually requires the patient to be administered an anesthetic during the procedure.  This is one of many associated costs that contribute to the wide price range.

Costs Associated with Dental Deep Cleaning

Most dental procedures have added costs  that make it hard to predict just how much you will end up paying.

Scaling and root planing is no different.

You might have been recommended for root planing and scaling while at the dentist’s office for a standard cleaning.  You may avoid several of these costs is so, especially if your dentist handles perio cleaning as well.

Otherwise, you’re likely to incur a variety of charges on the front end:

For example, initial exams usually cost $50-200.  Or, you may start with a basic cleaning for $75-200.  If required, X-rays might add $25-250Your dentist may even perform a full-mouth debridement for $75-$150 if necessary.

Beyond that, scaling and root planing requires pain management.  Local anesthetic may add $300 per tooth or nitroxide may tack on an additional $50-100.  You may also require antibiotic injections at a cost of $30-90 per tooth to help speed the healing process.

Understand these costs well.  Find them in quotes and make sure you understand exactly how you’re being billed.  This is the most fundamental step in lowering your root planing and scaling costs.

Saving Money on Scaling and Root Planing

There are a ton of different tactics you can use to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for dental deep cleaning.

Research is your best friend.  If you really want to save money, you’ve got to be willing to do what is required.  In this case, you need to gather information then use that information to your advantage.

In the end you could save $100s off the cost of dental deep cleaning.  Help is available from both public and private institutions.

Let’s start with what you might get from the government.

Will Medicare or Medicaid Help with Dental Deep Cleaning?

Our lawmakers understand that dental costs are high—just like most healthcare in America.

However, there simply isn’t as much urgency when it comes to oral health.  Therefore, there isn’t as much opportunity for governmental aid.  Medicare and Medicaid are the two primary health care programs funded through taxes.

Neither of them focus on dental care.

Medicare is almost certainly not going to help pay for your scaling and root planing procedure.  Medicare really only covers dental costs related to emergencies, and then only on a limited basis.  Yet those who qualify may be able to find a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurance company that offers dental coverage.

Medicaid is much more likely to help pay for your dental deep cleaning than Medicare.  Medicaid is funded jointly by the states and federal government.  Therefore, the states have more freedom in determining both coverage and eligibility.

The best ways to find out what is offered in your state is to call the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at 1-800-MEDICARE.

If you’re under the age of 21, you may be covered under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.

Parents who qualify for Medicaid should also want to look into the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  CHIP is semi-independent, working with Medicaid to help provide health services to children, some dental services included.

While you may find help here, we recommend against expecting the government to cover your dental costs.  There’s actually a lot more you can do on your own.

Dental Insurance

Depending on your plan, dental insurance may cover 50% or more of the cost of scaling and root planing.

You’ll need to keep on an eye on your plan’s maximum though.  Most dental insurance plans have yearly maximums or $1,000-1,500.  That may cover only be a fraction of the total cost of dental deep cleaning.

There are newer dental insurance plans that cover more (potentially up to $3,500 per year), but you’ll have to look for them.  You may also consider breaking your procedure up into two appointments: one at the end of the year and the other at the beginning of the next.  Perhaps two quadrants in December and the other two in January.

Either way, you’ll probably want something else to supplement your dental insurance (or replace it altogether).

Dental Discount Plans

A dental discount plan may save you as much as 60% on scaling and root planing.

These memberships are a great way to save money on really any dental procedure.  You pay a yearly membership fee instead of monthly premiums and receive a discount on any dental services you may need.

There are a wide range of plans that cover different procedures, at different discount rates.  This allows you to find the perfect plan for you.

Just like all money-saving strategies for dental work, you’ll need to do your own research to sort out which option is best for you.

Dental Schools

You can often find lower rates from newer dentists.

You can find even lower rates from dentists in training.  Dental schools are always looking for volunteers to give their students procedural experience.

Depending on what is available in your state, dental schools are a great source of low-cost dental deep cleaning.  This may sound like a major risk, but you’ll always have the supervision of  a licensed and insured professional.

Anyway, the perceived risk is why the services come at a discount.

You may even be able to find faculty clinics or those with periodontic students (already completed schooling for a general dentist) specifically.  This increased expertise and experience will reduce your discount.  But for some, lowering that risk is worth it.

Finding nearby dental schools is usually easy enough.  A simple Google search will often yield all the information you need.  A more likely problem is availability.

Scaling and root planing isn’t as common as many other dental procedures.  This means you may have trouble finding a school with it on their schedule.  If you do, the waiting list may be extremely long.

Obviously, you don’t want to wait with any dental treatment you need.  Dental care gets more expensive the longer you put it off.

Luckily, you aren’t out of options yet.

The Cost of Dental Deep Cleaning Overseas

“Dental tourism” may sound like the riskiest option yet, but it’s actually becoming more and more common.

Americans actually take round trips to Europe or Asia to have dental procedures and still don’t spend as much as they would for those procedures alone back home.

We highly recommend finding out all the information you can about a practice before you actually spend money.  You’ll also need to factor in travel costs as well.

But these prices: scaling and root planing starting at $60 in Mexico, in the $20s in multiple European countries, and $14 in Thailand (according to MEDIGO) could really save you some money.

It might just be time to start thinking about your vacations differently.

Other Organizations That Might Help

Please, exhaust all other options first.

This group requires the most research and probably has the most dead ends.  However, you may also strike gold (or a free deep cleaning).

There are a variety of dental-health-focused charities.  ToothWisdom.org, Dental Lifeline Network, America’s Toothfairy, or other organizations may be able to help out.

There may also be some smaller organizations in your area that can help too.  State and local health departments can help you find health care aid of all kinds.  This directory, containing state oral health programs may also be a useful resource for you.

Similarly, your local United Way may point you in the right direction or even sponsor clinics itself.

Lastly, take a look at ClinicalTrials.gov and do a quick search for “dental deep cleaning”, “root planing”, or “periodontal treatment” and see what you find.

Depending on where you live, there may be a variety of organizations that can provide additional help or information.  You may need to think outside the box if you’re serious about saving money on scaling and root planing.

And more than just being creative, be clever.

More Ways to Save Money on Periodontal Cleaning

One of the best ways to save money on any dental procedure is to use your head.

Do ample research then leverage that research to get yourself the best price.  Oftentimes, the only dentists anyone hears about are the most expensive ones.  And even with those, you can usually get them to lower their rates, especially on their highest-paying services.

Mix and match the strategies above with some of the tips below to push the lowest prices you can find even lower.

Don’t wait.  If you are recommended scaling and root planing, get it done as quickly as possible.  The longer you wait, the worse your symptoms will get it.  Wait long enough and dental deep cleaning costs won’t matter anymore.  Instead, you’ll need to read about tooth extraction, dental implant, or denture costs.

Get to know your location.  Maybe nothing affects dental costs more than location.  Not only do busy dentists charge more, but pricing fluctuates largely based on the neighborhood or property values around an office.  You’ll often find significantly cheaper rates in rural areas, blue collar areas, or other areas you might not think of.

Get multiple quotes.  Especially when you can get your first consultation for free, talking to multiple dentists in your area can give you tremendous insight and leverage.  The better you know the competition, the more effective your negotiating tactics will be.  Often, you can earn savings just by showing that you are a savvy consumer.

Look for “weak links”.  In some markets, competing practices offer very similar pricing.  Hunt for those that may not be satisfied with their market share.  New practices or those without a presence online are often hurting for business.  Because dental margins are so high, they can easily drop their rates.  Desperation is your ally.

Choose a dentist over a periodontist.  Periodontist are true gum experts that perform a variety of periodontal procedures.  Scaling and root planing is one of the most basic of these.  In fact, their expertise isn’t always needed.  If you have good brushing habits and make regular dentist visits, a general dentists should be plenty.

Negotiate your own rates.  Negotiation is almost like a lost art in today’s society.  That’s unfortunate for many dental consumers.  Demonstrating knowledge of the procedure you need and your local market can really get dentists to compete for your business.  They get paid quite well, and often still do after lowering your bill by +10%.

Don’t forget who is king.  Cash.  This may seem like just a cliché.  But in the dental health world, it’s more like a maxim you should never forget.  Dentists save money when you choose cash or check and they will often pass those savings to you.  Credit card and dental insurance companies charge fees to dentists that you can prevent.

The main thing is this:

Do not take what you are given.  Try your very best to get the price you want.  You may be surprised how quickly it’s given to you.

You’ve made it this far:

You should have a great understanding of what you should pay for a scaling and root planing procedure.  You should also have a long list of organizations to get in contact with.  And after that, you probably still have some more research to do.

The main things are that you don’t put it off and you don’t settle for an overpriced procedure.  Gum health is extremely important, not only to oral health but overall health.  Fail to take care of your mouth and losing teeth may be the least of your worries.

It’s ok though: if take the information gained here and add a little effort, you can be confident about future of your periodontal health.

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Savings plans are NOT insurance and the savings will vary by provider, plan and zip code. These plans are not considered to be qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Please consult with the respective plan detail page for additional plan terms. The discounts are available through participating healthcare providers only. To check that your provider participates, visit our website or call us. Since there is no paperwork or reimbursement, you must pay for the service at the time it’s provided. You will receive the discount off the provider’s usual and customary fees when you pay. We encourage you to check with your participating provider prior to beginning treatment. Special promotions including, but not limited to, additional months free are not available to California residents or on Fully Insured Plans. Note – not all plans and offers available in all markets”