We take a look at the cost of some common dental treatments in Australia and explore the ways you could pay for it.
How much does dental treatment cost?
The Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) annual Dental Fees Survey found the average cost of a routine check-up and clean is $214. However, the cost can range from $158 to $304. That includes a periodic oral examination (item 012), scale and clean (item 114) and fluoride treatment (item 121). However, unlike doctors, dentists have no standard fees. That means the cost of seeing a dentist can vary significantly from dentist to dentist.
Here’s the cost of some other common dental treatments, according to the ADA survey of general practitioners (not specialists).
Costs of average dental treatment in Australia
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Check-up and clean
|Comprehensive oral exam (011)||$66||$49–$91|
|Periodic oral exam (012)||$58||$44–$83|
|X-ray – per film (022)||$44||$32–$59|
|Calculus removal (scale and clean) (114)||$120||$92–$168|
|Topical remineralising (fluoride treatment) (121)||$36||$22–$53|
|Adhesive – 1 surface anterior (521)||$159||$115–$225|
|Adhesive – 2 surface anterior (522)||$192||$145–$275|
|Adhesive – 1 surface posterior (531)||$169||$125–$230|
|Adhesive – 2 surface anterior (532)||$210||$159–$295|
|Removal of tooth or parts thereof (311)||$195||$139–$291|
|Chemo-mechanical preparation – 1 canal (415)||$293||$200–$435|
|Chemo-mechanical preparation – additional canal (416)||$142||$90–$214|
Crowns and dentures
|Full crown – veneered – indirect (615)||$1,600||$1,174–$2,000|
|Complete maxillary denture (711)||$1,400||$950–$2,130|
Source: Australian Dental Association Dental Fees Survey 2020.
Does Medicare cover dental?
Medicare only covers dental in limited circumstances. Medicare covers some dental treatments for eligible children through the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS). It also covers some essential dental services for eligible adults, generally those who have a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card. Because of this, most dental costs will need to be paid for by the patient.
What dental costs does private health insurance cover?
If you have a health insurance policy that includes dental cover, your insurer can help cover some of your costs. Extras policies can include cover for general dental and major dental. General dental typically covers part of the cost of routine dental treatments, such as check-ups, scale and cleans, fillings and x-rays. Major dental generally covers more complex (and usually more expensive) dental procedures like root canals, crowns, dentures and treating gum disease. Waiting periods can apply.
You can typically claim a percentage back of the cost of your treatment or a set benefit amount, subject to annual limits. That means that you may have to pay a gap payment, which is the difference between what your dentist charges and your health insurance rebate.
For example, research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that the average gap payment for a periodic oral exam was $17, removal of calculus was $33 and topical remineralising was $7 across Australia in 2017–18.
Some funds offer no-gap dental (or 100% back) on regular check-ups and other preventative services when you visit a dentist in the fund’s network. It’s worth checking the policy information to see how much you can claim and what type of dental work is and isn’t covered.
How else can I pay for dental costs?
Another option is paying for dental costs using your savings. You’ll typically need to go to the dentist for regular check-ups, so it’s important to budget for these. As well as this, it can be a good idea to have an emergency fund at hand to help cover any unexpected and potentially costly issues that may crop up.
Some dentists also offer dental payment plans, where you can pay for dental work in instalments. Others allow patients to pay for treatment with buy now pay later (BNPL) services like Afterpay and Zip Pay. Before entering into these kinds of agreements, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the fees and any interest that you may be charged. You may also be able to apply for a NILS loan to help towards the cost of some dental services, if you meet certain eligibility criteria.
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