How Much will a Filling Cost Me?
A filling in Australia could cost you anything from $100 – $300.
The average according to the ADA (Australian Dental Association) 2012 fee survey (across all states) ranges from $130 for a small silver filling to $283 for a very large white filling.
This depends on the size, material and some other factors discussed below. I will give you some more details about what affects the price but really the only way to know for sure is to ask your dentist. Whilst a dental practice can give you a price range over the phone- An examination will be necessary before they can tell you the price of a filling as not all fillings take equal time and effort.
The biggest price difference will come from the actual dentist’s pricing structure, as there are no set limits on what a dentist can charge- only guidelines issued by the ADA. Some dentists will be much more expensive than others, and this can really add up if you need a lot of work carried out.
I would advise against price shopping and going for the very cheapest you can find, as you often get what you pay for, but whether very expensive fillings are justifiably better than others is difficult to say. A happy medium with a dentist you trust is the best solution.
The next biggest thing that will impact how much you pay is your health insurance. Certain dentists may be specialist providers for particular health funds, in which case the health funds often set the fees that the dentist must charge. The fees tend to be lower if this is the case. Some insurance companies will only have set fees for the most common treatments you are likely to have and allow the dentist to charge normal prices for all the other treatments.
The actual insurance you have (level of cover), will impact greatly the amount you end up paying but this needs to be balanced against the cost of the premium you are paying each month.
The main points which influence whether a filling is more or less expensive are:
- Which material is used- Composite (white fillings) tends to be more difficult and time consuming to place compared to amalgam and this is often reflected in the price.
- The size of the filling. Filling prices are judged on the number of surfaces that the filling goes onto. If it is a simple case of a hole on the top of the tooth- this would be a one surface filling, if decay extended down any side of the tooth it would become a 2 surface and if it involved more surfaces it could be a 3,4 up to maximum of a 5 surface fillings. The more surfaces it involves the more you will pay.
- Whether it is a front or a back tooth- this makes a smaller difference but back teeth, because of the slightly more difficult access, are a little more expensive than front teeth.
- Does the filling involve an incisal edge (these are the corners of your front teeth)? or a cusp (part of the chewing surface of your back teeth). If the answer is yes, then you will pay a little bit more, as these features or characteristics take a bit more time to do and shape- they have their own item numbers which are 578 and 577 and would often add between 20 and 50 dollars to your filling. On incisor teeth you can have a maximum of two incisal edges or corners and up to four cusps on a molar tooth-which if this was needed would be far more suitable for a crown fitment, given the amount of tooth that must be missing. Occasionally one or more pins (small metal screw) may be used by the dentist to help hold the filling in if it is particularly large and these will incur a small extra charge similar to a cusp or incisal edge.
What are the Item Numbers? I Want to Check with my Fund How Much Will I Get Back?
The item for a filling has three numbers:
- The first, ‘5’ tells us just that it is a filling
- The second number if it is a 1 tells us the material used is amalgam.
- If it is a 2 or a 3 then the filling is white (either composite or GIC). 2 tells us it is a front tooth and 3 tells us it is a back tooth.
- The third number is the number of surfaces the filling is attached to, this can be 1-5
- A couple of examples will help highlight this and explain the system:
Filling item-numbers explained
To be able to check your out of pocket expenses, you need the item numbers for any treatment you will be having.
Only your dentist will be able to provide you with these after he has examined you and discussed over the various treatment options with you.
When you have this information- we often refer to it as a treatment plan, you can contact your fund and calculate the gap.