Dental cleaning is one of the most basic oral procedures we should all take, yet a lot of people skip it. Part of this is probably due to busy schedules and forgetfulness but there might be a monetary factor for a lot of people too. If that’s the case for you, you may be wondering exactly how much is a dental cleaning without insurance and how much – with.
We’ll answer both of those questions below as well as a few others to figure out why you should get your teeth cleanings every year whether or not you have a dental care plan or not.
What Exactly is Dental Cleaning and Why is it Necessary?
Dental cleaning is exactly what it sounds like – a quick process of cleaning and polishing your teeth to remove any plaque, tartar, and stains. Very often, the focus of this cleaning is cosmetic but it doesn’t need to be because it has huge benefits for your overall oral health too.
Dental cleaning, especially when performed regularly and adequately, is a huge prevention tool that can save you countless oral problems down the line – gum disease, cavities, root canal issues, even tooth decay, and much more.
You can see the exact nature of dental cleanings described here. Or, for a more visual representation, you can check out this neat video.
So, while the idea of going to your dental hygienist for a routine exam and a cleaning session can seem frustrating, such dental treatments are the best preventive care you can do for the overall health of your mouth.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that dental cleanings are covered by many insurance plans – precisely because they are not counted as “just” cosmetic procedures even if a lot of people see them that way. How much is their total cost without such insurance, however?
How Much is a Dental Cleaning Without Insurance?
So, what is the average cost of a dental cleaning? That depends on where you live, on who is the dentist you’re visiting, and on how intensive exactly the cleaning is. If we have to put an average on it, however, the cost of teeth cleanings in the US typically ranges between $75 and $200 or about $125 for most people.
This isn’t much for a highly effective and beneficial out-of-pocket treatment that can save you thousands of dollars in dental care down the line. Yet, it can come up to quite a bit too when you consider that such cleanings should ideally be done twice a year every year. So, even despite their low price, they can still amount to a few hundred dollars per year, a few thousand dollars over the span of a decade, and so on.
And all that begs the next question – what if you do have insurance?
Is dental cleaning free if you have insurance?
Many dental insurance plans will cover the cleaning and polishing of excessive plaque at least once a year. Such coverage rarely covers two or more visits annually, however, which means that you’ll likely still need to pay for your second visit.
What’s more, most insurance plans have a coverage maximum in that regard, so, if you go to a particularly pricey dentist, your plan may not even cover the cost of a dental cleaning let alone two. That’s because many plans will only cover the average costs within their networks.
Still, even if you have to pay a bit extra out-of-pocket, a decent dental insurance plan should still cover a large chunk of the price. What’s more, dental insurance plans tend to mean that the overall price you’ll be charged is a bit lower than what you would have been priced if you weren’t insured – that’s because insurance providers often negotiate lower average prices for their clients.
How about the cost of deep cleaning with or without insurance?
Deep cleaning is essentially the high-quality variant of dental cleaning. This quality dental care procedure doesn’t just clean and polish the front surface of your teeth to make your smile more appealing, it goes over the entire surface of every tooth down to the gums and the start of the roots.
In that sense, where standard dental cleaning can indeed be said to have a mostly cosmetic function, deep cleaning is the true preventative solution for good oral health.
Because this procedure is more comprehensive, labor-intensive, and time-consuming, however, it also costs more. The average cost of teeth cleaning done this way is often somewhere between $150 and $300, or about $225 – almost twice that of a regular dental cleaning.
This too can be covered by dental insurance but rarely for more than one procedure per year and often with certain annual maximums that may not even cover the whole price of a single procedure without the need for some pocket costs on your part.
Do dental discount plans reduce the costs of dental cleaning?
Insurance isn’t the only way to get low-cost dental cleaning from dental offices. There are also dental savings plans, also known as dental discount plans, that are accepted by most dental offices.
These are different from insurance plans in that they are not insurance at all – instead, these plans simply cut down the prices of dental services if you’ve paid an annual fee (usually of about $150).
In other words, you’ll still cover the whole out-of-pocket cost of the treatment together with the plan’s fee but the cost of the treatment will be substantially lower – not so much so that it compensates for the entire fee of the discount plan on its own, but sufficiently that you get your money’s worth if you go to a few treatments a year.
In other words, if you’re planning on doing regular and adequate dental preventative care with two deep cleanings and other necessary procedures, a good dental discount plan can save you more money than even a great insurance plan.
Should You Go Get Dental Cleaning Even if You Don’t Have Insurance?
Our go-to answer is that, yes, dental cleanings, especially deep cleanings are very worth the investment once or twice a year, regardless of what insurance or discount plans you do or do not have. The excellent preventive power of these treatments is just too effective to ignore and without them, we usually end up paying much more by treating actual health issues down the line.
We realize this answer doesn’t work for everybody, however. Two deep dental cleanings a year easily pile up to about $450 on average or even up to $600.
Add the fact that your dentist will likely ask for extra cash for other services such as X-rays to see for potential issues and you may soon find yourself paying close to or even over $1,000 a year if you don’t have insurance even with no major oral health issues present.
Fortunately, if you’re out of payment options, you can just make sure that you take some extra good oral care yourself if you can’t afford a dental cleaning – adequate brushing and flossing – while not comparable to the cleaning power of a dental cleaning – can still help limit the tartar build-up to a significant degree.
This isn’t a reliable long-term option on its own but it can be sufficient for a little while until get a good dental insurance plan or you improve your financial situation.
But, overall, our answer is that dental cleanings are worth it whenever you can afford them – as is the case with any other good health preventive care.
Dental cleanings are often underestimated and ignored because they feel like an extra expense we can save on by just brushing our teeth a bit more extensively. And while the latter is certainly recommended regardless and can help prevent major health problems in the short term good oral hygiene in the long term does rely on relatively regular dental cleanings.
Those can understandably be a bit frustrating to have to pay for out-of-pocket, especially if we’re talking about two deep cleanings a year every year.
So, we certainly don’t recommend going for too long without a good dental insurance or at least a decent dental discount plan. However, even if you’re briefly without insurance, we’d still recommend getting at least one dental cleaning a year if you can afford it – it pays for itself so regularly that we can view it as an insurance plan in and of itself.