If you have a cavity or a damaged tooth, you may need a dental filling to treat it. If left alone, the tooth decay could cause an abscess or intense pain. Dental fillings are one of the most common dental procedures you may get at the dentist.1 Read on to learn what to expect, and how much they cost.
Dental fillings are a way to repair your tooth after it is damaged or decayed. If your dentist decides you need a filling, they will first need to remove decayed parts of the tooth with a drill or other special tools. They may give you anesthetic to numb the tooth and the area around it before drilling. Next, the dentist fills the cavity with a durable material such as resin. Finally, they shape and polish the tooth once the filling hardens.2
On average, the cost for a dental filling without insurance could run from $200 to $600. This is just an average estimate, and the price could be as low as $100 or as high as $4,000. The cost of a dental filling procedure varies based on several factors, including:3
- Cavity size
- Material used for filling
- How many teeth require fillings
- The types of teeth that need fillings
Dental fillings are typically necessary procedures. If you don’t have dental insurance, you could save money on dental work through a discount dental plan. These plans are not insurance plans—they charge an annual fee in exchange for access to discounted dental care services by participating providers.4
The cost of your dental filling may depend on the type of material your dentist uses. Here are some common types of filling materials:5
Metal (aka silver amalgam) fillings
Metal amalgam fillings are made from a mixture of metals, such as silver, tin or copper. They are very durable, but occasionally have the potential to expand and create cracks in the teeth. Because metal amalgam fillings have a noticeably different color from the teeth, they are often the cheapest option. Amalgam fillings may cost from $50 to $200 for 1–2 teeth or $150 to $400 for 3 or more teeth.6
Composite fillings are made from a resin designed to match the color of tooth enamel. They aren’t as noticeable as metal fillings, but they are less durable. Composite fillings may cost between $150 to $300 for 1–2 teeth or $200 to $550 for 3 or more teeth.7
Like metal amalgam fillings, gold fillings are noticeably different from the rest of the tooth enamel. However, gold fillings are durable and may not need replacement for several decades. They may cost between $300 to $1,000 for 1–2 teeth and $450-$1,800 for 3 or more teeth.8 However, gold fillings today are rare, and most dentists no longer use gold as a filling material.
Porcelain fillings (inlays)
Porcelain fillings, or inlays, are the most expensive option for repairing a cavity or damaged tooth. It requires a longer procedure than other filling materials. After drilling the cavity, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth. The dentist uses this impression to make a ceramic filling. These porcelain inlays are durable and resistant to staining. They may cost anywhere from $300 to $4,500 for each procedure.9
Most dental plans will help cover the procedure for fillings. Typically, insurance providers will cover up to 80% of the cost for fillings once your annual deductible is met.10
Many dental plans offer services with no waiting periods. This means you could get coverage for a dental filling even if you need a procedure as soon as possible.
If you need a cavity filling, it’s important not to put it off. Leaving a cavity untreated could lead to more serious dental issues that require drastic action, like root canals or extracting the tooth.11
Dental insurance could help you cover some costs associated with fillings. Many dental plans offer services with no waiting periods. This means you could get coverage for a dental filling even if you need a procedure as soon as possible.
Some dentists also offer payment plans for some procedures. This way, you could spread the cost of a dental filling over several months, rather than paying the full price up-front.12