Can I see what I’m going to pay at the dentist before my visit? Sometimes. Most dentists don’t have a list of treatment prices (a fee schedule) available for patients….

See What You're Going to Pay at the Dentist

FAQ Series: Can I See What I’m Going to Pay at the Dentist?

Can I see what I’m going to pay at the dentist before my visit? Sometimes.

Most dentists don’t have a list of treatment prices (a fee schedule) available for patients. While they may have their reasons for not making these prices available, many patients still find the lack of information frustrating.

However, there are some other ways to find out what you will pay at your visit.

How to Find Out How Much Your Dental Visit Will Cost

1. Call your dentist before your visit and ask

Dentist and Patient CommunicationMost dental administrative assistants and hygienists understand that dental treatment is expensive and that people don’t like to spend a lot of money on dental care. Ask your dentist how much your first visit will cost (or any visit after that). Your first dental visit at a new dentist (along with each subsequent routine visit) usually includes a cleaning, dental x-rays and a dental exam. Prices may vary depending on:

  • the type of dentist you see (specialist or general dentist)
  • how many x-rays you need
  • the type of dental cleaning you need to get (some people need a deep cleaning, which costs more)

2. Ask your dentist if you can see the treatment plan costs before agreeing to treatment

You shouldn’t have to ask about treatment plan costsmost, if not all, dental offices give you this informationbut don’t hesitate to ask if you need to. After you have a cleaning and x-rays, your dentist or dental hygienist will put together a treatment plan for follow-up work that is needed.

Typically, they’ll pull you aside to let you look over the treatment plan before agreeing to it. You can then take care of your treatment on that visit (if the dentist has the availability) or during a follow-up visit.

3. See our fee schedule and dental plan savings resource

Dental Treatments

We recently put together a resource that breaks down each dental visit by treatment and procedure with the prices (average price without a dental plan and average price with your dental plan). This information was pulled from our fee schedule. The average prices on our fee schedule are taken from an average of the 80th percentile of the 2017 NDAS Comprehensive Fee Report.

4. Follow the ADA. They release updated procedure costs each year.

The American Dental Association releases updated dental procedure costs each year. They’ve already released 18 new codes for 2018. These books may be a bit technical, as they’re primarily meant for dentists as they look to see how much they should charge for each procedure, but it is a place where you can see suggested procedure prices.

Why Doesn’t My Dentist List Prices on Their Website?

  1. It’s difficult to list accurate prices for each situation. Dentists can’t usually give exact prices when they don’t know the situation yet. We spent a lot of time working on our savings resource to give our members an understanding of what they can expect to pay, but these sample invoices can vary depending on treatment needed.

  Here are a few examples:

    • Dental X-RaysCleaning vs. Deep Cleaning: You could come to your dentist’s office for a regular exam and cleaning, but while you’re there, your dentist sees the condition of your teeth and gums and decides to perform a deep cleaning. This cleaning costs more money.
    • Number of Dental X-Rays: If you go to your dentist for an exam and report that you have a toothache, you might need an x-ray of the tooth to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem. Each individual x-ray costs money.
    • Tooth Fillings: This is fairly common. You go to your dentist for a routine visit and cleaning and they find a few cavities that need to be filled. This is when your dentist typically recommends a treatment plan. You can usually elect to get the filling done right away or schedule a follow-up appointment. Fillings will be an additional cost.
  1. Dentists have to work with dental insurance companies.  Every dentist has a price list that includes the procedures they perform, but so does every dental insurance company. When dentists work with these different insurance plans, the dental insurance company ends up setting the price through things like fee reductions and copays.

  According to this Tooth Talk article by Dr. Igor Kaplansky:

“In general, dental insurance companies use what is called a Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) fee guide. The companies set their own price that they will allow for every dental procedure that they cover; it’s not based on what a dentist actually charges, but what the dental insurance company wants to cover. For example, your dentist may charge $80 for a dental cleaning, but the insurance company will only allow $60, because that is their set UCR fee. That leaves you with a $20 out-of-pocket expense.”

How Do Dentists Determine Their Prices

Dental Office DecorThere are a few organizations that offer suggested pricing and data for dentists: the American Dental Association and the National Dental Advisory Service. But pricing essentially comes down to three things:

  • Cost of the materials and equipment used
  • Cost of the dental chair occupancy for the appointment
  • Cost of the dentist’s time

And then, of course, there are salaries for dental staff, facility expenses, etc. We go into more details about the cost breakdown of a dental office in another blog post.

Conclusion

We know this subject can be confusing, but we hope this post was able to shed some light on the tricky question of how much you’ll pay at the dentist. Also, be sure to check out our resources that I mentioned above to get an idea of what you might expect to pay at the dentist with and without your dental discount plan.

Natasha is 1Dental’s managing editor and copywriter, focusing content on dental and health news, advice and tips. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and has since been a book editor and now copywriter and managing editor on dental and health. You can find her on Google+ and on all of 1Dental’s social networks.

13 Comments
  1. I had called for new cards, plus list of dentists and list of eye doctors in our area (48603–Saginaw, Mich. But never got yet.

  2. I was charged $69 for a teeth cleaning which was supposed to have been free for having been a long time member. I did not have my letter stating this with me at the dentist as I supposed he would have a record of it. Is there any chance of receiving a refund?

    • Hi Betty, thank you for commenting! We don’t offer free cleanings with our plans. Our plans are set up as discounts at the dental office, so the $69 you received would be about right with the cleaning and oral exam. The cleaning would have cost much more than that without your plan.

      You said you received a letter saying you would get a free cleaning? Could you email us that at customercare@1dental.com?

  3. THIS IS A RIP OFF! I PAID FOR MY HUSBAND AND MYSELF FOR THE YEAR AND THE ONE DENTAL PLACE THAT ACCEPTS THIS PLAN HAS DIFFERENT CODES FOR CROWNSTHEN YOU DO. SO, INSTEAD OF PAYING 511.00 FOR A CROWN LIKE IS LISTED ON YOUR PRICE, i HAVE TO PAY 2,000.00 FOR EZCH CROWN! WILL NOT BE SUCKERE INTO THIS AGAIN!!

    • Hi Tina, I can understand how frustrating that would be. There are crowns that are not listed on our fee schedules that some dentists will sometimes recommend. If you haven’t gotten this crown yet, I would encourage you to speak with your dentist and ask him if there are any crowns listed on our fee schedule that would be comparable to the one he is recommending.

      He may have good reasons for recommending a particular crown but another crown may be just as good to use – and it will be discounted according to our fee schedule.

  4. I went to a dentist last year, that took careington, and he told me I need a crown. I asked how much it would be, I was told $500.00, but they were moving out of the area. So I had to go to another dentist. Since I have been going to this dentist, he is very expensive. He told me a crown would be $1089.20, that is more than double. All his thing are more than double.

    • Hi Rose. And is the new dentist one of our providers? We see this happen from time to time. Sometimes dentists will recommend a different type of crown – one that is not included on our fee schedule. You can always ask him if there is another crown on our fee schedule that would be comparable to the one he’s recommending. Oftentimes there is.

  5. Great piece of article Natasha. This kind of post helps to educate people to understand the importance of visiting your dentist every 6 months. The prices is the second thing, it might be overwhelming when the dental staff discuss you with the possible cost but you can always compare it with the other dental clinic. Through that you can decide who gives quality and reasonable prices.

    • Hi Debbie, thanks for asking! We don’t actually have different rates for seniors for our plans. You can talk to your dentist when you’re using your plan and see if there are any additional discounts for you there. Sometimes dental offices have a senior discount special.

Leave a Reply