Are you falling behind on your dental cleanings because of a lapse in dental insurance coverage? You may be wondering if it’s worth it to go ahead and pay for your next checkup out of pocket. But how much does a teeth cleaning cost if you’re paying for it without insurance benefits?
Preventive Treatments are Affordable and Effective
Generally speaking, the amount of money that you spend on a dental exam, x-rays, and two dental cleanings each year is about how much you’ll spend if you were to buy into a new dental insurance policy.
For people who never seem to have cavities or other dental problems, it might actually be costing them more to pay into a dental insurance plan than to go to the dentist without one. If that’s the case, it might be cheaper to pay for two cleanings each year out of your own pocket.
The cost of a dental cleaning will depend on a few different things:
- The area that your dentist is located in
- Whether or not you have gum disease (a deep cleaning costs more than a preventive cleaning)
- How many teeth you have
- The amount of tartar or plaque buildup on your teeth
- The age of the patient (teeth cleanings for children cost less than that of an adult)
- If you’re a new patient (vs. a current patient of record)
On average, preventive teeth cleaning might cost anywhere between $45-$100 or more.
A Cleaning Isn’t Just a Cleaning
Even if you call a dentist and are quoted $75 for a dental cleaning, your appointment could wind up costing double to triple that amount. Why? Because the “cleaning” appointment doesn’t only include a “cleaning” fee.
Rather, your appointment fees also include the exam, x-rays, fluoride, sealants, or other potential procedures that may need to be completed.
It’s not always your dentist’s fault that this is the case. State laws may mandate that a dentist must perform a full comprehensive examination before a hygienist ever touches your teeth to clean them. If that’s the case, it’s usually the next appointment before you can count on “only paying for the cleaning” after the initial onboarding process.
Even then, a preventive cleaning can only be provided in the absence of gum disease. Otherwise, it may constitute fraud or malpractice.
“What About Deep Cleanings? I Just Want a Regular Cleaning!”
For individuals that see a dentist for the first time in a few years, you may be told that you need a deep cleaning, otherwise known as a “periodontal scaling and root planing.” This therapeutic cleaning removes the tartar buildup deep below gums when periodontal disease is active.
A deep cleaning procedure is usually divided into two or four separate appointments, sometimes requiring local anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Where a preventive cleaning is to maintain the health of your smile, a scaling and root planning is a process to bring your oral health back into alignment with what it should be.
“But I only want a regular cleaning,” you say? At this point, a regular cleaning that’s preventive and only cleans the visible areas of your teeth will be like putting a bandage on a broken bone. You’re actually doing yourself a disadvantage and throwing your money away, not to mention asking your dentist to do something that goes against the standard of care.
Yes, a deep cleaning will cost more than four times that of a conventional cleaning, but it could be the most important step in saving your smile. Once your mouth is in a disease-free state, you can go back to scheduling a maintenance or preventive (“routine”) cleaning every 3-6 months.
Save on All Cleanings and Dental Procedures
If you’re saving up the cash to have a teeth cleaning without dental insurance, you may want to consider enrolling in a discount dental plan. Or if you suspect that you may need some other dental work while you’re at it, a separately purchased insurance policy (outside of what is or isn’t offered by your employer) may be a smart investment.
At Cal Dental Plans, we offer a variety of insurance, indemnity, and California dental discount plans that can save you anywhere from 10-60% on routine dental services like dental cleanings, fillings, and more. Depending on what you need, we offer tiered plans and discounts that fit your budget and future smile goals.
Ready to learn more? Contact the savings experts on Cal Dental Plans today!