Setting up dental appointments for simple procedures is often put off for the elusive time period of “tomorrow”. This may be caused by the ever-present fear of the dentist, but also by the fear of the dental bill.
Scaling and root planing is one of those procedures. It costs $200-$300 on average. On top of that, there are additional visits to the dentist you must remember about. So what exactly increases the hit to your budget?Creative Commons
Scaling and root planing cost
There are two types of scaling and root planing: preventive and therapeutic. The biggest factor determining the price for this treatment is whether you have the former or latter.
Preventive scaling and root planing (SRP) is charged per quadrant of the mouth, while therapeutic SRP is charged per the entire mouth.
|Scaling and root planing type||Average cost||Cost range|
|Preventive, 1 to 3 teeth per quadrant||$200||$150-$300|
|Preventive, 4 or more teeth per quadrant||$300||$200- $450|
|Therapeutic, full mouth||$200||$100- $350|
Have a look at the calculator below. Play around with the options. The estimated price will change as you do so.
Scaling and root planing (SRP) is a preventive treatment. This procedure is meant for those with active periodontal disease, and it’s the only one needed to cure it. In more complex cases time-release antibiotics might be injected to fight bacteria for a longer time.
Periodontal disease can be caused by not visiting the dentist for a professional dental cleaning regularly. Doing this at least twice a year could save you money.
In terms of dental health, it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you get your teeth done at once, or over a longer period. Long-term effects are comparable. What’s more, not all of your teeth may need SRP.
If the patient displays moderate to severe inflammation on more than 30% of the mouth the SRP is no longer considered “preventive”. Symptoms of such a situation include swollen, bleeding, or inflamed gums.
In such a case the procedure can only be conducted after an oral examination, which could be an additional cost. A dentist must first assess what state the mouth is in.
|Procedure||Average cost||Cost range|
|Localized delivery of an antimicrobial agent||$90||$40-$170|
|Periodontal maintenance||$150||$100-$300||Bitewing X-ray||$35||$25-$50|
A number of procedures might be required before or after your scaling and root planing. Your dentist will make the final decision on what is necessary.
The dentist will want to assess whether you are a good candidate for scaling and root planing. A dental exam is a great opportunity to do so.
A dentist will review your medical and dental history and perform an exam. You will also be informed of any existing dental conditions such as cavities or underlying infections. He or she might suggest any procedures you might need to maintain your oral health. All costs of X-rays or other treatments should be quoted at this time as well.
The price range is quite big. This is because regular patients usually pay a bit less ($50 on average). New patients or patients who haven’t been to the office for a long time will have to pay about $150.
It might turn out at this stage that you will need full-mouth debridement before scaling and root planing.
Debridement is recommended for extreme cases where the gums are highly inflamed or swollen. It is also common when there is so much plaque that it is difficult to judge what actually needs to be done in the mouth.
After a full-mouth debridement is performed you must wait four to six weeks for your next appointment. The hygienist will give you instructions on how to care for your mouth.
What’s more, if you are suffering from halitosis (bad breath) despite brushing regularly, this treatment might flush away the food particles which your toothbrush can’t reach.
The stream of water will also contain antimicrobials. These will kill bacteria left behind after scaling and root planing in hard-to-reach places.
There are irrigators that you can buy and use at home, but they will not be as effective. Moreover, your dentist will be able to see into your mouth better than you can yourself.
The cost provided above concerns one quadrant of the mouth.
Localized delivery of an antimicrobial agent
If tartar has made its way below the gumline it acts an irritant for the gums. These will become swollen and inflamed, making pockets that are hard to reach. This is called gingivitis.
After clearing the pockets of plaque and tartar buildup an antibiotic is inserted. It will activate in a matter of hours and work for a few days. It will systematically fight off bacteria between the gums and teeth.
Your dentist will instruct you on how to care for your teeth at this time.
The cost range provided above concerns one tooth.
Periodontal maintenance is a treatment designed to target causes of irritation and inflammation. If your periodontal disease has resulted in:
- bone loss,
- gum “pockets” deeper than 4 millimeters,
- bleeding gums,
- or exposed root surfaces
you are probably not a good candidate for regular teeth cleaning. Periodontal maintenance is an alternative that is gentler on areas affected by periodontitis. It might also be appropriate if you have had periodontal surgery.
This treatment is done after scaling and root planing or other periodontal procedures to help maintain the status of gums and bone after initial healing.
It is recommended three to four times a year if needed. It is considered a basic service by insurance carriers, but it is always a good idea to check.
To determine whether you are a good candidate for scaling and root planing you might have to have a few dental X-rays. It can detect tooth decay happening on the inside of your tooth as well as the state of the roots and the condition of the crown.
Some X-rays you can expect to have before an SRP appointment are:
- a bitewing,
- a periapical or a panoramic X-ray,
- or an FMX.
Does insurance cover scaling and root planing?
Insurance policies may cover about 50% of the costs of scaling and root planing. SRP is considered “deep” cleaning. This is because it involves cleaning below the gumline. Local anesthetic is also used for SRP, unlike regular dental cleanings. These procedures are not always refunded.
Regular scaling and root planing is usually refundable once every two years. In the case of the presence of inflammation, two procedures a year are anticipated. This may be subject to change under particular circumstances, but you will have to check your policy.
Some providers might refuse to cover SRP unless and X-ray, usually na FMX, is performed. They might even require a probing chart, conducted during a periodontal probing procedure.
Another thing you must remember about is that each procedure is limited to a number of teeth. In combination with yearly maximums, it might be problematic to have the whole mouth treated. One strategy is to have two quadrants done in December and two in January.
Here is an overview of three policies and how they would cover scaling and root planing:
|Features||Dental Blue for Individuals: Core Plan||Cigna Dental 1000||Renaissance Dental: MAX Choice Plus Plan|
|Fee per person per month||$35.95 (if you’re under 65)||$30 or more||$89.49|
|Periodontic services||50% (50% coinsurance)||50% (50% coinsurance)||20% (80% coinsurance)**|
|Waiting period||12 months||12 months*||No waiting period|
*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.
** First year.
There are ways other than using insurance to have SRP affordably, quickly, and easily. They might even turn out more affordable.
How to save money on scaling and root planing?
A dental plan is a great solution. This involves a monthly fee, but it guarantees a lower price on all procedures in exchange. A discount plan can be used with insurance or independently of it. There are no yearly limits or paperwork to fill out.
Dental schools are another way to save, but the procedure might take a long time. Students are not usually as efficient as fully trained professionals. Each step will also have to be graded. You don’t have to worry about the quality of service though, a licensed doctor always overlooks the treatment.
It is always best to counteract oral health issues before they lead to other problems.
What is your experience? Have you had this procedure done? Or maybe you’ve been putting it off for a while? Let us know in the comments.