How Much Does a Dental X-Ray Cost Without Insurance?
A dental x-ray without insurance typically costs between $30-$750. The cost of dental x-rays varies depending on the type of x-ray performed and insurance coverage. Dental x-rays can quickly climb in price without insurance due to additional service fees and geographic location.
What is the Average Cost of a Dental X-ray?
The cost of a dental x-ray is usually between $30-$750 in the United States. Below is a table of the average price of dental x-ray services across the U.S.
Average Cost of Dental X-ray Services Across the U.S.
|State||Average Cost of Dental X-ray Service|
|District of Columbia||$109|
Source: Sidecar Health
Factors That Influence the Cost of Dental X-rays
There are a variety of reasons one may need a dental x-ray. The $30-$750 price range for dental x-rays depends on several factors, including the type of x-ray you receive, additional service fees, geographic location, and insurance status.
Type of X-ray
Dental x-ray costs vary depending on the type of x-ray performed. Each type of x-ray offers a different perspective for the dentist, allowing them to create a complete picture of a patient’s overall oral health. There are two different main types of dental x-rays: intraoral and extraoral.
Intraoral x-rays are more common and are used to check tooth root and bone health, find cavities, and monitor the overall health of teeth and jawbones. They typically cost between $35-$100 per set of images.
Extraoral x-rays usually cost between $60-$150 per image. These images focus on the health of the jaw and skull. Instead of identifying problems with individual teeth like cavities, extraoral x-rays identify issues between the teeth and other bones of the face, like impacted teeth and abnormal development of jawbones.
|Type of Dental X-ray||Average Cost of Dental X-ray Service|
|Occlusal or Palatal||$25-$100|
|Cone-beam Computed Tomography||$150-$750|
Source: Authority Dental
A bitewing x-ray is a relatively inexpensive intraoral x-ray. It shows details of upper and lower teeth from their crowns to the level of the supporting bone. They help detect tooth decay and gum disease, as well as assist dentists in the proper fitting of a crown.
A periapical x-ray is another intraoral x-ray showing the entire tooth from the crown to the root. They help find irregularities in the bone and root structure of the tooth.
Occlusal or Palatal X-ray
These intraoral x-rays tend to be larger and show the entire development and placement of teeth. Each image reveals the arch of all the teeth in either the upper or the lower jaw.
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A panoramic x-ray is a more common type of extraoral x-ray. A single image shows all the teeth in the upper and lower jaws. Because they show the entire mouth, they help reveal the position of emerging teeth, identify impacted teeth, and detect potential tumors.
A cephalometric projection is an extraoral x-ray that shows the entire side profile of a patient’s head. They are helpful in seeing teeth in relation to the jaw and help orthodontists plan how to realign a patient’s teeth if needed.
Cone-Beam Computed Tomography
A cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) is a relatively more expensive and advanced extraoral x-ray. They create three-dimensional images of a patient’s facial nerves, teeth, soft tissue, and bone structure. Oral surgery, like wisdom teeth removal, can be performed less invasively with detailed imaging from CBCT.
Additional Service Fees
It is important to note that in addition to the cost of the x-ray service, patients also pay nominal charges for the labor associated with taking the x-ray. The charges typically range from $10-$40. Even with insurance, there may be co-pays ($5-$50) that a patient must pay out of pocket.
States and areas with lower living costs tend to have a lower average price for dental x-rays. For example, the state of California has a higher cost of living than the state of Kansas. As such, the average cost of dental x-rays in California ($117) is around $24 higher than in Kansas ($93).
Even within the same state, cities can have different average costs for dental x-rays. Los Angeles, California, has a higher cost of living than Sacramento, California. The average dental x-ray cost in Los Angeles is $60-$140, and the average cost in Sacramento is $50-$120. As such, it is essential to remember that your geographic location may influence how much you will pay for a dental x-ray.
Insurance Status and Financial Assistance
Dental x-rays can be a necessary preventative health measure. A patient can avoid further discomfort and financial hardship by catching minor issues early on. Unfortunately, without insurance, dental x-ray costs can financially strain some families.
Financial Assistance Without Insurance
There are different ways to lessen the financial burden of dental care and dental x-rays in the United States without insurance.
- Dental schools - Accredited dental schools and public health clinics can offer dental services for those in need at a fraction of the average price. You would receive care from a dental student under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
- Dental grants - Financial grants often come with extensive qualification criteria and long waiting periods; check availability and eligibility in your state before applying.
- Public dental clinics - The Health Resources and Services Administration provides dental assistance to low-income people. You can also find low-cost clinics near you through the NeedyMeds dental clinic database.
- Dental-related charities - Charities like Smiles Change Lives and United Way can provide financial assistance for dental work not covered by insurance.
Financial Assistance With Insurance
If you require a lot of dental care, you may benefit from having dental insurance. Mira can help you make an informed decision: to learn more about the pros and cons of investing in dental insurance, click here.
Most dental insurance plans cover 50-100% of dental x-ray costs. Usually, insurance covers all of the expenses of dental x-rays except for co-pays. Insurance terminology can be daunting to navigate, but Mira can help break it down.
There are often limits on how many times you can get a covered dental x-ray. For example, a dental insurance plan might cover seven bitewing x-rays yearly and only one panoramic x-ray every three years. If you exceed the frequency of covered dental x-rays your insurance plan provides, you may have to pay for extra procedures out of pocket.
Medicaid is a federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage for people with limited income or resources. Mira can help you learn more about Medicaid and whether or not you may qualify. Dental coverage through Medicaid varies by state—checking whether your state has “extensive”, “limited”, “emergency”, or “no coverage” for dental services is essential. States with “extensive” coverage tend to help cover the cost of dental x-rays.
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How a Dental X-ray Works
Dental x-rays allow dentists to visualize teeth and surrounding tissue diseases that cannot be detected through a regular oral exam. X-rays are electromagnetic energy that can pass through most objects, including bodies. When x-rays pass through a body onto an x-ray detector, they create images of internal organs inside the body or teeth. The resulting image is called a radiograph, and it helps doctors and dentists to diagnose and treat diseases.
Dental X-rays: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The following section will answer some frequently asked questions about dental x-rays.
Why do I need a dental x-ray?
Dental x-rays are a diagnostic tool that helps prevent further harm to a patient’s teeth. They also help with future financial risks. By using x-rays, dentists can diagnose unseen issues before they become more severe and expensive problems. Here are some problems that can be diagnosed with a dental x-ray:
- Cavities between teeth
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Tartar buildup below the gum line
- Abscess in tooth roots
- Endodontic (dental “pulp”) infections
- Bone cysts
- Impacted teeth
- Extra teeth
- Wisdom teeth
- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disease
- Damage from injury
- Certain types of tumors
- Teeth positioning
Are there risks with getting dental x-rays?
The diagnostic benefits of using x-rays generally outweigh any disadvantages to a patient’s health. However, x-rays produce ionizing radiation, which can harm organ tissue. The more ionizing radiation exposed to organ tissue, the higher the risk of harm to the patient’s overall health. Ultimately, the risk of getting cancer from x-rays is relatively low.
Dental x-rays have been approved and deemed safe by the American Dental Association. As technology advances, digital dental x-rays are becoming more commonplace, and they use 80% less radiation than traditional x-ray technology.
Are there risks for pregnant people getting dental x-rays?
Pregnant patients should always consult their OBGYN/doctor before a medical procedure. However, with proper shielding, the radiation from a dental x-ray is not nearly enough to harm a developing fetus. Since the procedure occurs in the mouth, the x-ray does not pass through the fetus, causing little to no impact on the baby's health.
How often should I get a dental x-ray?
The frequency of getting dental x-rays varies depending on dentists and patients. If you have good oral health, you should get a dental x-ray typically every year or two. Patients with developing oral or teeth conditions should receive x-rays more often—around every six months or less.
The cost of dental x-rays can vary depending on the type of x-ray performed, service fees, geographic location, and insurance status. An uninsured procedure typically costs between $30-$750. It is vital to get regular dental x-rays because they help diagnose teeth, jaw, and gum problems before they become worse.
However, as crucial as preventative care is, it can start adding up quickly. That’s why Mira offers healthcare for an average of $45 per month with access to exclusive discounts on urgent care visits, lab testing, and prescriptions. Our team can also help you find affordable services in your area. Start prioritizing your health, whether oral care or otherwise, and save on healthcare today. Sign up with Mira!
Jasiah Hasan is from Portland, Oregon. She is completing her Master's in Public Health in global health policy at George Washington University. Outside of health equity and women's health, Jasiah is passionate about writing and dreams of one-day publishing poetry books.