How Much Does a Filling Cost Without Insurance?

Article Summary

Getting a filling can cost as little as $50 or as much as $4,500, depending on the number of fillings you need as well as the type of filling material that the dentist uses. Prices can also vary by dental practice, so if you need a cavity filling, make sure to ask multiple dentists for quotes based on your needs.

Have you brushed your teeth today? It’s common sense to brush your teeth daily, but even if you do, that doesn’t necessarily make you immune to cavities. Tooth decay can be genetic, and even the most persnickety person can end up developing a cavity or two.

A cavity can be extremely painful and, if not treated right away, can cause serious health problems. If you develop a cavity, you should get a cavity filling as soon as possible. But what if you don’t have dental insurance coverage? Then you’ll have to cover that tooth filling cost yourself. Let’s take a look at how much a dental filling costs without insurance.

How much does a filling cost without insurance?

If you don’t have dental insurance, then cavity filling costs are going to come at full price. This cost can be as low as $50 or as high as $4,500, depending on the procedure you need.

The good news is that having a cavity filled is one of the most affordable dental treatments you can get. The bad news is that without insurance, you’ll have to pay for that treatment out of pocket. It can also be hard to estimate the cost upfront because the price of a filling varies based on how many cavities you have, the extent of the tooth decay, and the type of filling you need.

The table below lays out the price ranges and average lifespans of different types of dental fillings.

Filling MaterialLow CostHigh CostAverage Lifespan
Metal (silver amalgam)$50$3005 – 10 years
Composite resin$150$3005 – 15 years
Gold fillings$300$1,00010 – 20 years
Porcelain inlay$400$4,00010 – 30 years
Ceramic-based composite$400$4,50010 – 30 years

Can you buy dental insurance right before you get a cavity filling?

A cavity filling is a procedure that is often covered by dental insurance, but you’ll only be covered after a waiting period. The length of that waiting period typically depends on your dental insurance plan, but in most cases, it will be anywhere from six months to a year.

When do you need a tooth filling?

Generally speaking, you need a tooth filling if you have tooth decay, if you have a cracked or broken tooth, or if a previous filling has fallen out or otherwise needs replacing. Basically, if your dentist says you need dental fillings, you should listen.

Factors that affect the price of a cavity filling

There are a variety of factors that can affect dental filling costs (though arguably, that’s true about any dental procedure). The price of a dental filling treatment can change based on the following:

  • Filling material. Different fillings will have different price tags. Metal fillings cost the least, while porcelain fillings are the most expensive.
  • Type of teeth. The type of teeth that need treatment will affect the cost of dental fillings, as some teeth require more work than others.
  • Number of fillings. Dental fillings for three or more surfaces will often be more cost-effective than fillings for only one or two surfaces, as many dental offices will offer a discount for multiple fillings done in the same procedure.
  • Dental savings plans. If you don’t have dental insurance coverage, you might still be able to save money on your cavity filling cost with a dental savings plan.

Pro Tip

When planning to get cavity fillings, don’t be afraid to ask multiple dentist’s offices for a quote on their dental filling cost, as not all practices will charge the same price.

How to save money on tooth fillings

Tooth fillings can cost a pretty penny — even if you have dental insurance or Medicaid. To keep these costs down, consider using one of the tips below to save money on your tooth fillings.

  • Consider getting dental insurance before your appointment. This is the easiest way to have your dental care covered prior to getting your filling. However, you’ll have to schedule your appointment for after the waiting period (if your plan has one) and pay the annual deductible before the discounts kick in. If you need multiple fillings, then it’s wise to work out a dental treatment plan with your insurance company.
  • Shop around for deals. Many dentists will give you discounts if you get more dental work done at the same time. If you need more than just a filling, such as an oral exam and a cleaning, talk to your dentist to find out how you can save money on your dental care.
  • Offer to be a dental student’s practice subject. Believe it or not, you can get low- to no-cost dental work at a local dental school by having your fillings done by a student. You can also use this “hack” to save money on other dental treatments, like a root canal or a tooth extraction. Don’t worry, it’s totally safe; a licensed dentist and oral surgeon will be present to observe the procedure and correct any mistakes.
  • Ask for a cheap filling material. While a porcelain tooth filling is great, the bill that comes with it is not. Most people are perfectly fine with silver amalgam fillings, and composite resin works well enough for a tooth-colored filling.
  • Sign up for a dental savings plan. Dental savings plans are a lot like dental insurance, but they don’t cover procedures in the same way. Instead, you pay a small fee and all of the dental procedures you need will have a discount applied to them immediately.

Pro Tip

Before you dismiss the idea of getting dental insurance, talk with an insurance provider. They may be able to help you find dental plans that fit your budget.

How to finance dental care without dental insurance

Maybe you’re in a tough financial situation and you can’t afford a dental insurance plan right now. If that’s the case, here’s how you can cover tooth filling costs without insurance:

  • Pay cash. If you can afford to pay for your filling out of pocket, do so. Some dentists will offer a discount if you pay the full price for your treatment upfront.
  • Ask your dentist for a payment plan. Many dentists are willing to offer payment plans for patients who need more work done or who are unable to cover the overall cost of treatment upfront. In some cases, you might be able to pay for portions of your treatment at a time. Even if you don’t need too many fillings, it never hurts to ask.
  • Get a loan or credit account to cover dental care. If you need multiple cavity fillings, then you may want to look into getting a personal loan or a credit card. Thankfully, you can get dental loans to cover any dental work you might need.

What happens if you don’t get dental fillings?

A dental filling may cost a lot, especially if you don’t have insurance, but it will probably cost you even more to delay treatment in the long run. Aside from the terrible pain that a cavity can cause, you also run the risk of requiring a root canal or a surgical extraction down the road. In serious cases, tooth decay can also harm the soft tissue around your gums.

The procedures to fix untreated bad teeth will all be more expensive than a tooth filling. In short, it’s better to get your tooth filled now than to need that tooth pulled later.

FAQs

Which tooth filling is the cheapest?

Currently, the cheapest type of filling on the market is metal filling, also known as silver fillings or silver amalgam fillings. Metal fillings cost as little as $50 without insurance.

Why are porcelain fillings so expensive?

Ceramic fillings are expensive because they require molds of your teeth. These fillings need to be specially made in a lab, and you may also need general anesthesia to have them put in.

How long do fillings last?

Depending on how well you take care of your teeth and the type of filling material you get, fillings should last anywhere from five to 30 years. Cheap filling materials like silver amalgam can last as little as five years with severe neglect.

How do you avoid getting a filling?

If you want to prevent a filling, the best tactic is to take preventative measures against tooth decay. Regular brushing and flossing go a long way, as does avoiding sugary drinks. When in doubt, ask your dentist how you can improve your oral health.

Do people still get gold fillings in their teeth?

Gold fillings cost a lot, especially compared to cheaper options like composite resin fillings. However, before the invention of alternative fillings, gold was the norm. Gold fillings last longer than silver fillings, though they still show signs of rot.

Nowadays, people don’t usually want the world to know about the dental work they’ve had done. Because of this, gold fillings have waned in popularity in favor of more discreet options, like a composite resin filling or a porcelain filling. However, you might still be able to find a dentist who offers gold fillings.

Key Takeaways

  • The cost of your dental filling will depend on multiple factors, including the filling material and the type of tooth that needs filling.
  • Metal fillings cost the least, with many of them costing as low as $50.
  • Composite fillings and gold fillings cost between $250 and $500, depending on the procedure.
  • The most expensive options are ceramic fillings, which can cost upwards of $4,000.
  • Preventative measures can help you avoid needing additional fillings in the future.
  • You can save money on dental work with payment plans and dental discount plans. You can also shop around for a dental plan that offers immediate coverage.
  • Regardless of how you pay for it, you shouldn’t put off getting a filling, or else you risk needing more expensive dental care in the future.
View Article Sources
  1. How much does a dental filling cost? – Humana
  2. How much does a cavity filling cost in 2022? – Authority Dental
  3. Dental Filling Guide: Costs, Benefits, Types, and Procedures – Dentaly.org