Dental services can be pricey nowadays, especially depending on where you live. That can be a problem if you have an active toothache or another issue but it’s also quite frustrating if you just want to go to a routine dental check-up – something which we know is extremely important for both our long-term oral health and our bank balance as it allows us to catch dental problems before they’ve become too bad and too expensive.
So, how should you proceed if you don’t have dental insurance coverage? How much is a dental checkup without insurance and what factors into that price? Let’s find out below.
How Much is A Dental Checkup Without Insurance?
Overall, the average prices for a dental checkup in the US are said to be around $300 or $400. These numbers can be deceiving, however, as those quotes often don’t include just the exam but also dental X-rays, teeth cleaning, and other procedures that are often deemed basic and essential.
Additionally, the exact prices vary by country, state, and region, as we’ll elaborate below.
The exact price of dental services can also vary greatly based on a lot of factors. These can include all sorts of things, including things that are not directly related to the checkup itself such as the amount of rent the dentist has to pay for where their office is, paying off their dental schools bills, and so on.
So, in some cases, a routine dental check up can cost as little as a few dozen dollars and in others – several hundred dollars. If you live in downtown NYC, for example, you can expect to pay much more for a simple exam than people would pay for a checkup, X-ray, and cleaning somewhere else.
Price variations by state
The average cost for dental care obviously depends on where you live. Americans, in particular, can see enormous fluctuations based on that as well as their particular dental coverage. Folks with full dental benefits can often go anywhere for free whereas people who don’t have coverage or who’ve hit their annual maximums may have to pay a few hundred dollars out-of-pocket.
How do these prices vary depending on your state, however? If we’re talking about a comprehensive dental treatment with X-rays, dental cleaning, and other basic dental work, the fees you’d be looking at by state can be as such:
- $700 to $1,000 for New York
- $500 to $700+ for California
- $400 to $600 for Texas and Pennsylvania
- $400 to $500 for Florida and New Jersey
- And a bit less for other states, with huge variations by county.
So, as you can see, even if you don’t live in NYC, if you go to two comprehensive dental oral exam visits a year – as you should if you want to maintain good oral health – you can be looking at up to $1,000 or more a year for common dental procedures if you don’t have any decent dental insurance plans available to you.
Yet, at the same time, these high numbers aren’t just for a quick and simple visit to the dentist’s office as they include quite a few additional procedures.
In fact, when a lot of sites talk about “average dental checkup prices”, they tend to include a lot of other “common” procedures such as root canal treatments, random tooth extraction gum disease treatments, the deep cleaning of plaque, braces adjustments, filling cavities, wisdom teeth extractions and so on.
Obviously, all those things aren’t what people mean when they look into the prices of standard dental checkups with or without insurance. So, let’s take a look at a barebones low-cost exam and its price.
Price variations by the type and comprehensiveness of the exam
If you’re merely going to your dentist for a routine exam and you’re not looking for a dental hygienist deep cleaning treatment of the gums, X-rays on your root canals, or any other costly procedures, what you’d be asked to pay can be significantly lower even in states like New York, Texas, and California.
The maximum you can be expected to pay for a simple oral exam without insurance in New York right now is around $150 to $225. If you’re asked to pay any more than that, it’s likely that you’re either visiting a significantly overpriced dentist or the prices have jumped quite a bit since the writing of this article.
In California, on the other hand, a basic oral exam with nothing else added to it can cost about $150 to $175. Adding teeth cleaning to it can cost $150 more and an X-ray is usually in the realm of $250 to $300.
In Texas, a basic oral exam is more affordable as it tends to range between $100 and $150. Adding a dental cleaning to it usually costs $120 more, however, and an X-ray is about $200 to $250.
In states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, a basic oral checkup is somewhere between $75 and $150, depending on which your preferred dentist is. Teeth cleanings are somewhere between $100 and $150 on top of that, however, and X-rays cost around $200 more.
In more rural areas and states, the prices can be lower for obvious rent-related reasons but that doesn’t mean the service is any worse. Although, it is worth noting that you should be careful with dentists that have a lot of free time on their hands, including in rural areas, as that can mean that they don’t get a lot of work which may or may not be reflective of the quality of their service.
How Can You Offset the Typically High Dental Checkup Prices?
Having a decent dental insurance or a dental savings plan is often quite lucrative in the long run, especially if you’re diligent enough to do a routine dental exam twice a year, as you should to maintain good oral hygiene.
So, if you don’t have good insurance right now but you know that you need (or suspect you will need) some extra dental care in the future, getting good dental insurance as soon as possible is incredibly important.
While doing so, however, you can also look into other ways to mitigate your expenses – and there are quite a few good options for that.
Medicaid, for example, is something that can save you quite a lot of out-of-pocket cash in certain states. Not in all, however – some states only cover emergency dental care with Medicaid and not routine checkups. This is a huge shame, given that having access to regular checkups is the best way to save money and optimize your oral health.
Still, there are quite a few states where Medicaid covers more than just emergency care – in those states, that can be sufficient for at least one free dental checkup a year.
If you have neither dental insurance nor comprehensive Medicaid coverage, another way to take care of your dental fees without reaching for cash is via Carecredit®. This service works very much like a credit card but for health and wellness procedures only and is generally a much better option than using an actual credit card.
Another great option to mention are dental saving plans or dental discount plans. This type of service doesn’t work like actual insurance as it doesn’t really cover your expenses – you still pay out of pocket or with other means. However, a dental discount plan lowers your expenses simply by lower the dental fees for all services you go to for a small annual fee (usually around $150).
So, with a discount plan, there are no copays and deductibles to worry about – you just go to whatever type of exam or procedure you want and you pay less than you would have otherwise.
Then, there are the free dental clinics too. These places are usually easily available in most states and can offer you excellent service when it comes to routine dental checkups and other such services. Public dental clinics may have a bit of a wait time, depending on where you live but that’s not a problem for routine exams which are, by definition, not urgent.
Of course, getting a good brush and flossing daily is always recommended and can save you a lot of headaches at the dentist but those go without saying.
Going to a dental checkup without insurance can be costly, especially in some parts of the US. Yet, even then it’s often worth it as it saves us a lot of drama and expenses down the road. The best course of action is usually to do both, however – to go to regular dental checkups and to get good insurance that covers most of those expenses.