The cost of dental cleanings can vary based on your insurance coverage, type of cleaning, geographical location, and age. When thinking about the cost of dental care, it is important to consider whether or not you plan to purchase separate dental insurance. Most plans cover 100 percent of the cost of routine cleanings, while without insurance, the cost typically ranges from $100 to $200.
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Cost of Teeth Cleaning With and Without Dental Insurance
Most dental insurance plans will completely cover the cost of standard teeth cleanings, but without insurance, you may have to pay between $100 and $200. Deeper and more invasive cleanings can cost up to $900 with insurance and $1,800 without insurance.
Estimating the exact cost of your dental cleanings can be difficult to pinpoint due to four main factors that impact the cost of care: location, type of cleaning required, insurance status, and dental history. Below we explain how these factors may influence how much you pay for teeth cleaning at the dentist.
Certain parts of the country and geographical area have a higher overall cost of living. Secondary factors such as the cost of rent in a given area impact operation and services expenses for patients and providers. Typically cleanings are less expensive in rural areas than in larger metropolitan cities. If you live in a metropolitan area, you can look at dentist offices in surrounding areas to compare prices of cleaning services.
People who have been missing routine cleanings may have active oral problems, such as gum disease and excessive plaque build-up. Patients with such conditions might need specialized cleaning called debridement, a deep cleaning before the examination. It's important to note that the better your preventive and routine care is, the less your cleaning will cost.
Preventive and regular dental care and cleanings reduce your future cost of more severe oral care. Insurance companies cover 100 percent of dental cleaning costs; however, you might need to meet a deductible or pay a copay if you require deep cleaning. If you do not have insurance, you are responsible for 100 percent of the cost of care.
Types of Cleaning
The type of cleaning you are receiving directly impacts the cost of care, with or without dental insurance coverage. Three main types of cleaning are Adult Teeth Cleaning, Scaling and Root Planing, and Periodontal Maintenance.
Cost of Teeth Cleaning With and Without Insurance
|Type of Cleaning||Estimated Cost with insurance||Estimated Cost without insurance|
|Adult Teeth Cleaning||$0||$100 - $200|
|Scaling and Root Planing (for entire mouth)||$400 - $900||$1,000 - $1,800|
|Periodontal Maintenance||Varies||$150 - $300|
Adult (Prophylaxis) Teeth Cleaning
This is the standard dental cleaning that is classified as preventive care by most insurance companies.
- Total cost with insurance: $0
- Total cost without insurance: estimate $100-$200
Scaling and Root Planing
This service is known as periodontal deep cleaning and is more invasive than normal routine cleaning. Deep cleaning reaches beyond the gum lines and removes tartar building along root surfaces of the teeth. This type of cleaning stops the development of gum disease and bone loss.
Deep cleaning is performed in “quadrants” or quarters of your mouth at a time.
- Entire mouth with insurance: $400-$900
- Cost per quadrant: $150 - $200
- Entire mouth without insurance: $1000-$1800
- Cost per quadrant: $300
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Periodontal maintenance follows a deep cleaning or scaling. In terms of intensity, it is a step up from traditional routine cleaning. It's important to note that periodontal maintenance must be completed every 3-4 months to prevent relapse of extreme build-up.
- Cost with insurance: varies based on insurance plan
- Cost without insurance: $150-$300 per session
Importance of Regular Dentist Visits
Regular dental visits are just as important as scheduling visits to your primary care physician. Routine cleanings are an essential part of your preventive oral care and target stubborn plaque and tartar that cannot be removed with at-home brushing.
In addition to removing plaque and tartar build-up and stains, your dental hygienist can check for signs of oral disease such as gingivitis, gum disease, and oral cancer that could otherwise go undetected without routine cleanings.
Possible Outcomes of Missing Teeth Cleanings
Regular cleanings can help detect oral health problems before they get worse and even prevent issues from occurring in the first place. Missing routine cleanings can lead to some of the following issues:
Cavities and Tooth Decay
Cavities and tooth decay occur underneath built-up tartar and plaque and are impossible to remove on your own. Tooth decay can occur anywhere on the tooth — including in between teeth — and must be removed at a dental office.
Gum disease can develop when plaque is constantly irritating the gum line. The gum line becomes inflamed and creates small pockets that hold bacteria, excess food, and plaque. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss.
Bad breath is simply caused by white hardened plaque, tartar, and dental stains that are made of bacteria. As the bacteria rests on your teeth and in your mouth, it causes an unpleasant odor that is bad breath and can only be fixed by removing the spots with professional cleaning.
Throughout pregnancy, expecting mothers experience an increase in hormone fluctuation that can make them more susceptible to infection and disease. Because infections spread throughout the bloodstream, the bacteria caused by problems such as gum disease can negatively impact the baby.
Aside from teeth and oral-related health problems, missed dental cleanings can lead to an overall decline in physical health. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to several health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes complications, and high blood pressure. Everything that enters your mouth is easily ingested and absorbed into your bloodstream. If your mouth is full of bacteria and has poor oral hygiene, you are introducing and allowing harmful germs into your bloodstream.
How Often Should You Get A Teeth Cleaning?
The American Dental Association recommends individuals get their teeth cleaned and examined at minimum once a year; however, you should aim to have routine dental cleanings at least twice a year or every six months. Visiting your dentist every six months provides a smaller window of opportunity for oral diseases to go unnoticed and reduces the amount of plaque and tartar build-up.
If you have pre-existing chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, or a family history of oral disease, you should get your teeth cleaned and examined more frequently, typically about every 3-4 months.
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What is Included in Routine Cleanings?
Having your teeth cleaned regularly by a professional is painless, non-invasive and usually can be completed pretty quickly, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar build-up.
- Initial examination of teeth
- Removal of plaque and tartar
- Teeth polishing
- Extensive flossing
- Fluoride treatment (if recommended and deemed necessary by dental provider)
- Questions about current oral hygiene routine and new recommendations
Dental Insurance Cost and Coverage
Dental insurance works differently than traditional medical insurance. Dental insurance is often called dental benefits as some procedures and services are covered in full and some are partially covered. Furthermore, dental benefits do not provide reimbursement for any charges that are paid out of pocket prior to insurance enrollment.
Dental care is not commonly considered essential coverage or well-being protection; therefore, it is not grouped into traditional healthcare plans. Most dental plans must be purchased separately from traditional health insurance.
Most Americans who choose to enroll in dental benefits plans pay between $15 and $50 a month, which adds up to about $360 per year. The annual cost of dental benefits is oftentimes less than or equal to the amount you would pay for care without insurance.
Dental plans have a coinsurance breakdown as well as annual maximum components that must be considered. Common PPO plans use a 100/80/50 structure which means:
- Insurance covers 100 percent of preventive care such as cleanings, x-rays, and exams
- Insurance covers 80 percent of basic procedures such as fillings
- Insurance covers 50 percent of major procedures such as crowns and dentures
For procedures that are not 100 percent covered, you would pay the remaining percentage that the insurance plan does not cover.
Dental Cleaning and Cost Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This section answers some frequently asked questions about the cost of teeth cleanings. If you have specific questions about teeth cleanings, you should speak to your dentist.
Should I do a traditional or deep cleaning?
If you haven’t had a dental cleaning in a while, deep cleaning might be the perfect choice to get you back on track with oral hygiene and get rid of any long-term plaque and tartar buildup. If you have been skipping regular cleaning appointments, you may show early signs of bacteria pockets and gum diseases, which are not obvious until they become more severe.
It's important to note that the decision regarding the type of cleaning needed should be made by your dentist and dental hygienist when they are examining your teeth in real-time. Furthermore, they can accurately access the next steps based on your current oral health conditions, provider proper treatments, and at-home suggestions.
What should I consider before getting a dental insurance plan?
Before enrolling in any type of dental plan, you should consider if the plan will save you money. Even though insurance coverage pays for 100 percent of preventive services, it might be contradictory to pay more money for insurance coverage than you would for the service out of pocket.
It's also important to consider your needs in the future. If you already have extensive dental problems or have a predisposition to oral health issues, dental insurance can protect you from having to pay the entire procedure out of pocket. Beyond your personal needs, think about if anyone in your family might need braces or oral surgery in the future. Some insurance plans that include orthodontic coverage can reduce the cost of these services. In short, you may benefit from dental Insurance if you:
- Go to the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups
- Often need additional services when going to the dentist
- Unable to pay the cost of dental procedure out-of-pocket
- Have a large family with children who need regular dental care
Are there other ways to save on dental care and cleaning without an insurance plan?
Without insurance, certain dental services can have a high out-of-pocket cost, with basic cleanings starting at $100. However, there are other ways to find affordable dental care and cleanings.
- Dental Schools — you can get high-quality dental treatments and cleanings at local dental and dental hygiene schools. Usually, the cost is a fraction of what you would pay at a private practice. Additionally, many schools accept Medicaid.
- Community Health Centers — Community health centers are usually federally qualified to provide high-quality dental care in addition to other health services at a lower cost.
- State Programs — If you meet certain income or unemployment factors, you may be eligible to receive dental cleanings at zero cost. It's common to see these programs through charity pop-up dental programs that offer free service 1-2 times per year.
Keeping up with your dental cleaning and overall oral hygiene is essential to managing your health. Setting up bi-annual visits with your dental provider paired with developing a good at-home dental routine can reduce your risk of developing oral diseases. Nevertheless, it's never too late to start a regular cleaning routine, determine the cost of your cleaning, and invest in dental insurance.
In addition to dental insurance, a Mira membership can be an excellent way to receive comprehensive health coverage that doesn’t break the bank. For a monthly fee of $45, Mira can help you save on many healthcare services. Learn More and start saving today.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Alexandra is currently getting her Master's in Public Health with a health policy certificate at Columbia University. One of her life goals is to own her own art gallery!