How much does dental bonding cost? (per-surface fees)

- Fees for composite (resin) fillings for anterior (front) and posterior (back) teeth. | How prices for white fillings compared to silver (amalgam) ones. | How a filling's number of surfaces is calculated.

Links to page: Graphics
A chart showing teeth grouped into anterior and posterior classifications.
A picture showing the dental surfaces of a molar tooth.

Per-surface fees for composite (resin) dental restorations.

This page provides price estimates for different types of bonded restorations, including white fillings (both for front and back teeth) and composite veneers.

As a basis for comparison, estimates for dental amalgam (silver) restorations are given too.

This page also explains:

  • How fees for fillings are determined according to the number of tooth surfaces involved.
  • Special issues associated with insurance coverage for bonded fillings for posterior (back) teeth.

A)  Composite Fillings for Front Teeth  (resin, white fillings)

 
Number of Surfaces
(sides of the tooth)
Cost (Small town) Cost (Large city)
One $115.00 $182.00
Two $155.00 $227.00
Three $187.00 $274.00
Four or more. $243.00 $341.00

Notes:

Small rural town = Cost of living index around 80.

Large City = Cost of living index around 120.

Even within the same general area, the price different dental offices charge can easily vary by 30%.

B)  Composite Fillings for Back Teeth  (resin, white fillings)

Number of Surfaces
(sides of the tooth)
Cost (Small town) Cost (Large city)
One $125.00 $192.00
Two $163.00 $263.00
Three $193.00 $314.00
Four or more. $243.00 $362.00

As a basis of comparison, the table directly above (white fillings for back teeth) is directly comparable to the one below. As you can see, having a white filling placed costs more.

 

C)  Dental Amalgam Fillings  

Number of Surfaces
(sides of the tooth)
Cost - Small town 1 Cost - Large city 2
One $107.00 $159.00
Two $131.00 $205.00
Three $170.00 $237.00
Four or more. $209.00 $289.00

How did we come up with these estimates? / Estimates for other dental procedures.

What's included in the price?

The cost of your procedure should include the placement of your restoration, the local anesthetic (dental "shots") needed during its placement and any follow-up care your filling requires.

Fillings for baby teeth.

Your dentist will probably charge the same fee for permanent and primary (baby) tooth fillings. There was a time when dentists typically charged less for the latter but that seems to have changed.


How are filling fees are set?

At any given dental office, the cost for a filling is determined by the following factors.

  • The type of filling material used.
  • The location of the tooth being filled (front/back).
  • The size of the filling, as determined by the number of tooth surfaces (sides) it involves.

1) The type of restorative used.

There are generally two types of materials used to create dental fillings.

  • Dental amalgam is used to create silver fillings. (It's usually only used on back teeth.)
  • Dental composite (resin) is used to create white fillings. (It's used to create restorations for both front and back teeth.)

A chart showing teeth grouped into anterior and posterior classifications.

Anterior (on the left side) and posterior (right side) teeth.

2) The type of tooth.

There are two general classifications of teeth, anterior and posterior.

  • Anterior teeth are those located at the front of the mouth. They are the incisors and cuspids (canines, eyeteeth).
  • Posterior teeth are those positioned in the rear of the mouth. They are the molars and bicuspids (premolars).

In regard to fillings, the need for a distinction between front and back teeth stems in part from the fact that different types of filling materials are best suited for each application.

 

3) The number of tooth surfaces involved.

Each tooth can be thought of as having 5 separate surfaces (sides).

A molar has 5 surfaces.

A picture showing the dental surfaces of a molar tooth.

Surface names: occlusal, facial, lingual, mesial and distal.

  • For back teeth, these are the facial, lingual, occlusal, mesial and distal surfaces.
  • For front teeth, these are the facial, lingual, incisal, mesial and distal surfaces.
Tooth surface name definitions.
  • Facial = the cheek or lip side.

    (alternate name for back teeth: Buccal) (alternate name for front teeth: Labial)

  • Lingual = the tongue side.

    (alternate name for upper teeth: Palatal)

  • Incisal = the biting edge of an anterior tooth.
  • Occlusal = the chewing surface of a posterior tooth.
  • Mesial = the side of the tooth that faces the next tooth forward.
  • Distal = the side of the tooth that faces the next tooth toward the back.

How to use this information

When you look at your bill or insurance statement, you may see terms such as:

  • MODL Amalgam restoration - This would refer to a metal filling involving the mesial, occlusal, distal and lingual surfaces of a back tooth.
  • MIFL Composite restoration - This would refer to a white filling involving the mesial, incisal, facial and lingual surfaces of a front tooth.

Calculating the fee.

Among restorations of the same type (white or metal) for the same type of tooth (anterior or posterior), a filling's fee is calculated by counting up how many total surfaces the restoration involves. The greater the number, the higher its cost.

  • In theory, a 2 or even 3 surface filling might be smaller in overall size (bulk), yet have a higher price than a very large 1 surface one.
  • Even if a tooth's filling is placed as multiple separate pieces, it's still typically just the total number of different surfaces involved that determines the procedure's cost.

Does dental insurance cover dental fillings?

It would be rare that a dental plan didn't provide benefits for at least some types of fillings. They typically fall under the category of "basic" dental services.

As such, it's common that a policy will pay 80% of the procedure's UCR fee, after the member's deductible has been met. Or, with HMO plans, only a modest copayment may be required.

Possible policy limitations.

Your dental plan may place some restrictions on this procedure. You'll have to check to see if any of these conditions apply to you.

  • There may be a limit on the number of times a filling is covered for the same tooth within a certain time frame.

    If there is a new area of decay on your tooth, then you probably won't have a problem with this clause. But if the filling is a straight replacement of one that was covered within the last 1 or even 2 years, then a limit in benefits may be triggered.

  • Dental composite fillings (white fillings) may not be covered for back teeth (molars and premolars). This restriction isn't as common as it used to be (due to improvements in this type of filling material) but it may apply with some policies.
  • In some cases a plan may allow the member to opt for a composite filling for a back tooth instead of a dental amalgam (metal) one. The patient is then responsible for the cost difference between the two.
  • Don't expect your provider to provide benefits for the replacement of otherwise satisfactory metal fillings with white ones just because you prefer the way they look.


Fees for dental composite veneers.

Composite resin labial veneer.1
     $480.00 - $810.00

Range:
Low = Small rural city or town.
High - Large metropolitan area.

1) A "labial veneer" refers to a dental restoration that covers over the entire front surface of an anterior (front) tooth. In the case here, the veneer is created by way of the dentist placing tooth bonding (composite resin restorative). (This type of restoration would provide a similar cosmetic result as placing a porcelain veneer.)

Related topics:  What are porcelain veneers? / What are Lumineers® veneers?

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