How Much Does a Dental Filling Cost?

Young woman in dentist chair being given a tooth exam for fillings by female dentist
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A dental filling is used to repair damage to your teeth, such as decay, fractures, or chips. If you are planning to go to the dentist and think you might need some fillings, you might wonder how much a filling costs. Your dental insurance may cover the cost of a filling, or you may need to cover all or a portion of the cost. There are several factors to consider to figure out what the cost of the filling will be, here’s what you need to know.

Additional Costs to Expect When You Are Getting a Filling

Before a dentist will do fillings, they will usually do an x-ray to see what the extent of the damage is. Once it is determined that you need a filling, the dentist will have to prepare the tooth for the filling. This tooth preparation may involve anesthetic, then drilling to remove the decay from the tooth before the repair and filling can be completed. 

The extent of the drilling and preparation of the tooth is determined by the filling you choose. The cost of your filling depends on all these factors.

Will Insurance Cover the Cost of a Filling?

If you have supplemental health insurance like a dental insurance plan, then the dentist can connect with your insurance company and get a report back of what will be covered and for how much.

Your health insurance plan may have limits on how much you are covered for fillings per year. If you recently purchased your dental plan, you may also have a dental insurance waiting period before you are covered.

It is always best to check with your insurance before you get the work done since health insurance plans can be different.

For example, if your dental insurance will pay 80% of the cost of the procedure, then you should expect to pay 20%. If your dental plan pays 50%, then your cost will be higher. You will also want to check if you have a deductible to pay.

Choosing the Type of Filling

There are several different types of fillings from which you can choose. Popular choices include:

  • Composite resin—white fillings—will match the natural color of your tooth
  • Porcelain, inlay and onlay fillings and cast-gold fillings are the most expensive fillings
  • Metal fillings or amalgam fillings are a mix of metals, including silver, tin, mercury, copper, and zinc.

Over the years, people have questioned the safety of exposure to mercury in fillings. However, the American Dental Association (ADA), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) have come out with studies and statements that these have not been harmful to adults or children ages six and above.  

Factors Determining the Cost of a Filling

There is no one answer to what your filling or fillings will cost because it depends on the individual damage you have to your tooth. These are the different things to consider for the price of a filling:

  • The prices of the dentist doing the procedure may vary from other dentists.
  • What procedures will be done before the filling? A good example of something that will cost money before getting your filling is the X-ray. Your dentist may also want to do a cleaning or removal of buildup on the teeth. Be sure and ask about the total cost of your visit, and not just the cost of the filling itself.
  • The material of the filling
  • The teeth affected by the filling; for example, some teeth will be more expensive to fill than others. If several surfaces on the tooth need to be filled, then the cost will go up. For example, if only the top of the tooth needs to be filled, then it is going to be much cheaper than if the sides also have to be filled.

How Much Is a Cavity Filling Without Insurance?

One of the main factors in determining the cost of the filling has to do with which kind of material you use. The table below compares the cavity filling cost by the filling type.   

Cost Comparison by Filling Type
Types of Fillings Average Cost  Advantages Disadvantages

Direct Composite Bonding Amalgam or Silver/Metal Fillings

$110-$200

1. Expected to last 10-12 years
2. Takes less time
3. Usually covered by insurance

1. May cause problems for people with metal sensitives
2. Some people are concerned about mercury exposure. However, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, ongoing scientific studies of the past 100 years continue to show that they are not harmful.
3. More of the tooth structure may have to be removed during preparation
4. Does not bond to the tooth
5. Corrodes over time
6. May discolor parts of the tooth

Composite Resin Fillings

$135-$240

1. Expected to last 5-7 years
2. Has a natural appearance
3. Require less tooth preparation
4. Bonds directly with the tooth
5. Strong material

1. Cost more, may be up to two times the price of the metal filling
2. 
May not be fully covered by insurance
3. Procedure takes longer

Inlays and Onlays, Gold $250-$4,500

1. Can last up to 15 years
2. Very strong material

1. Cost is the highest
2. There is the possibility of galvanic shock

Ceramics (Porcelain) $250-$4,500 1. Expected to last 7 years
2. More resistant to staining 

1. Cost among the highest of all fillings
2. More brittle or delicate than the composite resin
3. More preparation of the tooth (drilling)

Tips for Saving Money on Dentist Costs

You should always ask how much procedures will cost before you make a decision. If you have health insurance, you should ask them if they have a list of approved dentists. You can also search for a dentist through the American Dental Association or look for local dentistry schools that may be able to offer you services at a discount if you do not have insurance.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Article Sources

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    https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/fillings/fillings-for-teeth-what-are-your-options

  2. American Dental Association. "Statement on Dental Amalgam," Accessed Nov. 29, 2019

  3. Consumer Guide to Dentistry "Let’s Talk Dental Fillings: Procedure and Costs," Accessed Nov. 30, 2019

  4. Colgate "Types Of Fillings" (Reviewed by the Columbia University of Dental Medicine). Accessed Nov. 30, 2019

  5. Know Your Teeth "What Is a Composite Resin (White Filling)?," Accessed Mar. 24, 2020