Cost of Dental Fillings*
Dental filling cost varies depending on various factors including the dentist’s expertise, the location, the type of dental insurance you have, the extent of the treatment and the materials used. Composite resin fillings are usually more expensive than amalgam fillings because they take longer to place and the materials are more expensive.
Dental insurance may cover the cost of replacing amalgam fillings with composite resin fillings, and also cover some of the cost of some types of fillings for cracked or broken teeth.
Amalgam filling cost is usually $75 to $145 per filling, and composite resin fillings cost ranges from $150 to $200 for treatment of a single surface*.
Am I a candidate for Dental Fillings?
You may be a suitable candidate for dental fillings if you have:
- A tooth cavity caused by decay
- Broken fillings
- Mercury fillings
- Amalgam fillings.
Old mercury or amalgam fillings can easily be removed and replaced with tooth colored (composite) fillings that are stronger than the previous fillings, and that also provide a more pleasing appearance.
Dental Fillings Definition
A dental filling is required when a cavity (carey, hole) forms in the tooth or teeth. The dentist removes the decay and fills in the tooth with a special material to restore the appearance and function of the tooth.
What are Dental Fillings?
Dentists use dental fillings to fill holes or cavities that have formed in the teeth as a result of decay or wear. There are now a number of different filling types available, to suit different types of tooth cavities. These include:
- Amalgam fillings – these fillings are made up of a combination of metals including silver, tin, copper and mercury. There have been concerns in the past that amalgam fillings are harmful to the health because they contain small amounts of mercury. However, extensive research has shown that amalgam fillings are not harmful, and the World Health Organization supports the continued use of amalgam fillings. However, placing and removing amalgam fillings in pregnant women is generally avoided. If you are or think you may be pregnant, tell your dentist so he or she can plan your treatment accordingly. A small number of people may experience an allergic reaction to the metals in amalgam and may need to have another type of restoration. Amalgam is extremely tough and durable and is especially effective for use in molars, as it can withstand the chewing and grinding actions of these teeth.
- Composite resin (tooth colored) fillings - composite resin dental fillings are an alternative to traditional amalgam dental fillings. They are made of a plastic dental resin to match the color of the patient’s natural teeth. These types of fillings are durable, lasting six to twelve years, and also create a very natural looking smile. Composite resin fillings bond to the tooth to strengthen the remaining tooth, helping to prevent further damage. However, they take longer to create than amalgam fillings, so cost more.
- Root fillings (root canal treatment) - very deep decay or injury to a tooth can destroy tissue and blood vessels within the tooth, which makes the tooth and jaw prone to the risk of infection. During a root canal treatment, the decayed material is drilled out and cleaned thoroughly, then a rubbery filling is placed inside the cleaned cavity, and a filling or crown is placed at the top to restore the tooth.
How are Dental Fillings done?
Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums and jaw structure and identify the tooth or teeth that need to be treated with fillings. The tooth or teeth to be treated are isolated to prevent moisture from impeding the bonding process. The area is numbed with local anesthetic injections, which will take a few minutes to take effect. The decay or damage is removed with small drills, micro air abrasion or a dental laser. The area is thoroughly washed to remove bacteria or debris.
If the cavity affects the side wall of the tooth, a band is placed around the tooth to ensure that the filling hardens into the correct shape. Thin layers of a material such as resin are then placed inside the hole to protect the nerves and the blood vessels inside the tooth, a special material is applied to roughen up the exposed surface and help the filling to bond to the tooth, then the filling material is packed in. In the case of composite resin fillings, the material is applied in thin layers, and slowly built up to form the complete filling The filling hardens on its own after a few minutes, or a bonding light is used to speed up the hardening process. The dentist then uses a special dental paper to even up the height of the filling to ensure that your bite is correct after the treatment. The treated area is then polished.
The numbness may take a few hours to wear off, and you should avoid eating for one hour.
Questions to ask a dentist about Dental Fillings
Here is an essential check list of questions you may want to ask your perfectyourself.com dental professional:
- Am I a good candidate for dental fillings?
- Are my described expectations realistic?
- How long will the procedure take?
- What kind of anesthesia or pain relief is used?
- What is your experience in performing dental fillings?
- Can I see your qualifications?
- Ask to see any dental fillings before and after photographs of recent procedures
- What percentages of your patients have had significant post-treatment complications?
- How much will my dental fillings cost?
- Do you offer patient financing? (Flexible payment schemes for your surgery)
- Will you repeat/correct procedures if the agreed goals are not met? If this is the case, will I be charged again?
- Ask to observe the exact procedure you are considering before you decided to have surgery if you are unsure (this could be on videotape or in real life).
- Have you ever had your malpractice insurance coverage denied, revoked, suspended
- Ask for and follow up on patient references (these can be invaluable to finding out what your surgeon is really like and the level of customer satisfaction he/she has received in the past)