Tooth pain? Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods? Those are all warning signs that you might have a cavity — a.k.a. tooth decay. There’s just one challenge: you don’t have dental insurance. Don’t worry! You’re not alone! About 34% of Americans don’t either.
So how much will you have to pay? And what can you do to make dental care affordable for you?
It might be tempting to simply avoid the dentist if you’re worried about costs. You might also be inclined to look for the cheapest option you can find in Portland. Avoid both of these urges — I’ll explain why and what to do instead.
How Much Does a Filling Cost Without Insurance?
First, let’s talk ballpark. In general, Portland residents can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $600 for a filling.
That’s a quite a range, right? Why so much variation? Keep reading to find out.
What Determines How Much Your Filling Will Cost?
For starters, how much your filling is going to cost without insurance depends on the size of the cavity and its location in your mouth. The type of filling material your dentist uses also matters.
The Size and Location of Your Cavity
It probably won’t surprise you that it takes a lot less time and material to fill a small cavity than to rebuild half of a tooth that’s been lost to fracture or decay. Every cavity is different, but typically cavities will cost more if they’re bigger and harder to reach, as will cavities on teeth with prior damage.
If you aren’t sure how bad your cavity is, go see your dentist right away. You want to know the extent of the damage ASAP, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for an estimate before you commit to restoring your tooth.
If you have a cavity and don’t get it filled, your tooth will continue to decay over time. Leave it too long, and a regular filling might not be enough to restore your teeth. Depending on the damage, your dentist might need to give you an onlay, veneer, or crown, which will likely be a more costly investment than a routine filling.
Think about a wood and plaster wall:
If you have a small crack in the plaster, filling it is a quick, simple process. But, if there’s significant damage to the plaster, and maybe even the wood underneath, repairs take a lot more time and effort. In that case, the repair person would charge you more. It’s the same idea with teeth. Small, conservative cavities cost less to restore. Large, cavernous cavities cost more.
But don’t worry — no matter the extent of your tooth decay, a good dentist can help restore the appearance of your teeth and, most importantly, remove the decay so you aren’t in pain.
The Type of Filling Material
There’s another reason the $200 to $600 range is so big. Not all filling materials are created equal, and you get what you pay for. Some dentists use better and safer materials than others, and those generally cost more.
The two most common filling types are amalgam fillings (made of the metals mercury, silver, tin, and copper) and composite fillings (a synthetic resin). At Blodgett Dental Care, we choose not to use amalgam fillings due to their systemic toxicity and the structural damage they cause to teeth.
Why Pay More for High-Quality Fillings?
You could probably find a dentist somewhere who will give you an amalgam filling for around $100, but you probably don’t want to — they’re about half mercury! Dentists in Portland and around the world are increasingly abandoning amalgam fillings for that very reason. You don’t need the World Health Organization to tell you that you don’t want mercury (a known poison) in your body!
At Blodgett Dental Care in Portland, we use the highest quality BPA-free resin composite fillings, which contain only safe materials and look much more natural, starting at $250 (financing options available). We frequently replace people’s old mercury fillings with new composite ones. You can see the difference it makes.
Your teeth can look that good too! If you have a cavity or an old, ugly filling, rest assured that we can still give you beautiful teeth you’re proud to show off.
It’s true you can find cheaper options, but this is something that’s going to be in your mouth for years to come. Do you really want something toxic in there? Or something put in shoddily that could fall out and be swallowed? Plus, fillings just look better if they’re tooth-colored instead of silver.
It might be tempting to go for the cheapest filling you can find in Portland, but your health is not worth the money you’d save. Choosing high quality will save you money in the long run. You don’t want to constantly need your fillings replaced. That’s expensive and painful.
How to Make Your Filling Affordable
What can you do to help make sure you get the dental care you need at an affordable price?
- See your dentist as soon as possible. The size of your cavity affects how expensive the filling is. If you want to save money (and your teeth), get to the dentist today and make sure you’re getting a safe, high-quality filling that will last.
- Take advantage of financing options. At Blodgett Dental Care, we have financing options so you can get a quality filling without going broke. Give us a call or simply make an appointment and we’ll go over the specifics.
If you live in the Portland area and think you may have a cavity, contact me, Dr. Kelly J. Blodgett at Blodgett Dental Care. Or call (503) 713-6980 to schedule your appointment today! I’d love to help.
Post updated Nov. 25, 2016
Dr. Blodgett completed his pre-doctoral sciences at Portland State University and graduated from the Oregon Health Science University School of Dentistry in 1999. As a modern pioneer in progressive dental care, Dr. Blodgett has become a leader in minimally-invasive dentistry, dental lasers, computerized dental technology, and holistic care. He is widely recognized for the innovative care he provides and is dedicated to helping his patients optimize their whole body health.