With some dental treatments subject to deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, you might think you’re better off skipping those dental insurance premiums and taking your chances. But the costs of taking good care of your teeth can climb, especially as you — and your teeth and fillings — age. 

When you’re faced with the costs that stem from these scenarios, you’ll be glad you sprung for that dental insurance policy.

1. You chip or crack a tooth

Sometimes, it’s obvious you’ve damaged a tooth — you bite down on something hard, your tooth’s surface feels different and you might even find the chip in your mouth. Other times, you might notice sensitivity to heat, cold or pressure. 

For a small chip, your dentist might repair the tooth with a filling. If it’s a front tooth, bonding can match the color to the rest of your teeth. A bigger chip or a more damaged tooth might need a crown or root canal. Whatever the repair, you’ll be glad you have dental insurance to help offset the unexpected cost.

Potential cost: $105 to $1,471 depending on the treatment needed.

2. You need to replace a filling

Sadly, fillings don’t last forever, and those fillings you got when you were in elementary school are getting pretty old by now. Chewing can dislodge a filling, as can grinding your teeth. And aging fillings can leave gaps where bacteria can attack your teeth.

Some damaged fillings can be removed and replaced, while others might need a crown the second time around.

Potential cost: $105 to $380 for a filling or $861 to $1,471 for a crown, depending on materials and complexity.

3. You get a toothache

There are lots of factors that can trigger a toothache — it’s usually a cavity, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), but it could also be gum disease, an abscess or an impacted tooth. 

If your tooth is causing pain, you don’t want to delay treatment. Knowing you have dental insurance that can defray the cost can make it easier to get the care you need.

Potential cost: Varies based on the diagnosis.

4. You feel it when you drink something hot or cold

When your teeth are sensitive to temperature, it’s likely a sign of a problem, according to the ADA. Your dentist can help determine whether that’s decay, a cracked tooth, worn enamel, an aging filling, or gum disease. 

Potential cost: Varies based on the diagnosis.

5. Your gums bleed

Bleeding gums could be a sign of gingivitis, or early gum disease. If you catch it in time, you can treat it with brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Left untreated, you might need deep cleaning, medication or gum surgery. 

Potential cost: $132 to $1,743 or more depending on the extent of gum disease.

6. You skip routine care

The cost of a basic dental cleaning can climb into the hundreds with x-rays and an exam by the dentist. So it can be tempting to put them off, especially if your teeth feel fine. But your dentist can spot signs of trouble before you notice anything. And catching problems early typically means treating them is easier and less expensive.

Most dental insurance plans cover preventive care at 100% so you don’t have to worry about the cost. 

Potential costs: $81 to $118 for cleanings, $60 to $77 for bitewing x-rays, and $47 to $77 for a periodic oral evaluation.

7. You want to stay healthy

People who have dental benefits are more likely to go to the dentist, restore teeth that need care, and have their gum disease treated, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. Those who don’t are more likely to have teeth pulled and to need dentures.

And good dental health isn’t limited to your mouth. It factors into good overall health — untreated dental problems are linked with heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and kidney issues. 

Potential cost: Priceless. What value can you place on your good health?

Cost estimates listed in this article were accurate as of March 6, 2020 and are calculated based on prices in suburban Pennsylvania. You can find estimates for other zip codes as well as other dental procedures at Guardian Anytime.

The editors of Considerable.com determine the recommendations of products and services that appear in articles through rigorous reporting. If you buy a product from a retailer through a link on the site, Considerable.com may be paid a commission through our participation in an affiliate marketing program. These fees in no way affect our reporting or recommendations.

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