How Much Does a Dental Exam Cost Without Insurance? | Mira (2023)

If you’re looking to visit your dentist for a routine dental exam but don’t have insurance, you can expect to pay an average of $400 as a new patient. With 74 million Americans lacking dental coverage, various options are available to offset these costs. Prices may vary based on your state, which dental procedure you need, and the overall condition of your dental health.

Common Dental Procedures and Their Respective Costs Without Insurance

A dental check-up typically includes an oral examination, a full mouth X-ray, and comprehensive teeth cleaning. Prices vary primarily by geographical location and state. Resources like Delta Dental and FEP Dental allow you to use your zip code to estimate the cost of dental services in your area. The following lists show the price range of these individual procedures by state according to these dental pricing tools.

Average Dental Check-Up Total Cost by State

Dental check-ups include an oral exam, teeth cleaning, and a full mouth X-ray. These procedures are consistently performed at both comprehensive and period dental visits.

StateAverage Cost Without Insurance
New York$700-963
New Jersey$379-473

Average Oral Exam Cost by State

Oral exams are performed on patients to determine their complete dental health and history. The dentist will evaluate your medical history, oral habits, and diet and complete a dental cleaning. During this time, your dentist will use different tools to assess your teeth and identify any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, cavities, or other problems.

StateAverage Cost Without Insurance
New York$225
New Jersey$128

Average Teeth Cleaning Cost by State

The goal of a teeth cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. This prevents the growth of bacteria and promotes healthy teeth and gums. The dentist or hygienist will continue flossing your teeth and brushing them with an electric toothbrush. This prophylactic measure typically takes about 30 minutes to complete. When done routinely, teeth cleaning can help prevent various oral issues such as halitosis and tooth decay.

StateAverage Cost Without Insurance
New York$250
New Jersey$125

Average Full X-Ray Cost by State

X-rays are also commonly taken during routine oral exams to assess the health of your teeth beyond the physical examination. Before the X-ray, the dentist will instruct you to wear a protective covering over your chest to protect yourself from radiation. Following this, your dentist will have you bite down on a piece of plastic while they take an X-ray picture of the inside of your mouth. They will proceed to analyze the X-rays for signs of cavities, wisdom teeth, impacted teeth, and other oral problems emerging below the surface of your mouth.

StateAverage Cost Without Insurance
New York$350
New Jersey$183

Different Types of Dental Exams

Dentists use three different types of dental exams to assess your oral health. These tests share similarities but differ in their thoroughness, urgency, regularity, and cost.

Comprehensive Exam

A comprehensive exam is the most thorough dental test. Comprehensive exams are a full assessment of a patient’s dental health. These exams are typically given to new patients or if you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time. If you are a regular patient in your dentist’s office, the American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends having a comprehensive exam every three years. During your comprehensive exam, your dentist will complete an oral exam, teeth cleaning, and a full mouth X-ray.

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Periodic Exam

Similar to a comprehensive exam, periodic exams include a teeth cleaning and a full mouth X-ray. This is the most common oral exam and should be completed every six months. Your dentist will look for new cavities, follow up on past oral work performed, and examine your mouth for the development of any new diseases.

This routine check-up exam is performed on patients already established at their dentist’s office. Regular periodic evaluations are necessary for maintaining good oral health, as well as identifying any emerging problems or changes since your last visit.

Limited Exam

Limited exams are emergency exams targeted at a specific oral problem. These are not routine check-ups and are only used to address an acute issue. Your dentist will analyze your teeth visually and with an X-ray to identify problem areas. This exam may escalate to surgery, a root canal, or tooth extraction.

Factors that Influence the Cost of Dental Exams

In addition to location, the cost of routine dental exams can be influenced by multiple factors. If you haven’t been to your dentist in a while, you may need additional procedures with your regular check-up. Your dental hygiene and how often you see your dentist can also determine how much you pay. Dental insurance coverage and payment plans will also affect the cost of your next dental exam.

Common Additional Dental Procedures

If you need additional procedures to supplement your dental exam, you may be charged for those services. These prices vary primarily based on the tooth being worked on, with front teeth typically costing less than molars. Additional fees will be required if you’re looking to get specialized dental work for a toothache. Below are some other common dental procedures your dentist may recommend.

Average Cost of Common Dental Procedures

Dental ProcedureAverage Cost Without Insurance
Cavity Filling$200 - 600
Tooth Extraction$75 - 250 per tooth
Wisdom Teeth Removal$120 - 800 per tooth
Root Canal$600 - 1400
Dental Crown$500 - 3000

Regularity of Dental Exams

Your overall dental health can influence your total oral exam cost. Dentists recommend having dental check-ups every six months to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent further dental complications. While this might not be plausible for everyone, putting off your routine dental appointments can be more expensive in the long term. Preventative dental care through consistent oral exams can identify early dental issues before they worsen. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may need a more extensive exam performed than if you visit your dentist regularly.

Insurance Status and Payment Plans

If you are enrolled in Medicaid, all states offer dental care for individuals under the age of 21. Through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, all children receive the following emergency and preventative dental health services:

  • Treatment to relieve dental pain and infections
  • Restoration of broken and decayed teeth
  • Maintenance of child’s oral health

For adults, Medicaid dental benefits vary by state. Only some states offer dental care, with most states providing emergency-based dental services or minimal coverage. Other states have no spending limits and cover all preventative, periodontal, and surgical services.

Similarly, most plans do not cover routine dental care for adults over 65 years old enrolled in Medicare. Medicare Parts A and B only cover emergency dental surgeries and exclude preventative dental services such as periodic oral exams. Medicare Part C is the only plan that offers routine dental care, including dentures, X-rays, and teeth cleanings.

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Options if You are Uninsured

If you are uninsured and are due for an oral exam, many clinics in each state offer free and low-cost services. These organizations use federal and state funding to provide affordable dental care, reducing costs based on the patient’s income. For example, community health centers federally funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration offer a variety of routine services, including dental care.

If you’re unsure if you need dental insurance, you can consider the costs of enrolling in a plan based on your personal dental care needs. These plans are separate from health insurance and cost an average of $360 per year.

Dental School Clinic

Another option if you’re looking for an affordable oral exam is to visit a dental school clinic. Licensed dentists supervise these clinics to train dental students and often offer services for free or at reduced costs. This may not be the best option for someone who needs an emergency exam, as some schools have long wait times. The procedures performed at a dental school clinic can also take a little longer than usual because exams will be performed in an educational environment. However, these accredited teaching facilities are an affordable option for quality dental treatment.

Dental Exam Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following section will address some questions you may have about getting an oral exam.

Why do I need to get an oral exam?

Oral exams are an essential part of preventative dental care. Routine check-ups can identify cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems before they progress. These visits are also important for learning proper dental hygiene to prevent future oral issues. During your exam, your dentist can determine early symptoms of oral cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Oral exams are needed to maintain the health and cleanliness of your mouth.

Do I need to prepare for a dental exam?

If you have certain heart conditions or are at high risk of infection, your dentist might prescribe you antibiotics to take before your oral exam. Bleeding of your gums is usually normal during a teeth cleaning; however, there is a risk for bacterial infections to occur through these open wounds. If your dentist is concerned about your risk for infection, they will have you take antibiotics prior to your appointment.

Can I get an oral exam if I am pregnant?

It is important to continue maintaining good oral health during pregnancy, including getting routine oral exams. Your teeth may also change during pregnancy due to morning sickness or modifications in diet. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of mouth infection, inflamed gums, dry mouth, and other dental problems. According to the American Pregnancy Association, dental X-rays are safe and not known to cause side effects on the baby.

Bottom Line

Oral exams can be complicated, confusing, and expensive. Typical oral exams consist of teeth cleaning and mouth X-ray, and your dentist might recommend additional procedures to aid your dental health. The price of oral exams will vary based on your dental needs and location.

There are many options available through government and local institutions to offset these expenses. In addition to these resources, Mira is also an affordable way to save money on your healthcare needs. For an average of $45 per month, members can save on prescription drugs, doctor visits, and lab screenings. Sign up today and get started!


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