So you got a mailer coupon from a dentist that says they only charge $49.95 for a regular cleaning & $19.95 for an exam & x-ray. Seems kind of a cheap gimmick? And a lot of the times it might be, it just depends on the practice. If it’s a mature practice you might want to question why they are giving away services. Usually, it’s a loss leader, something they use to get you in and pressure you into other dental procedures.
If it’s a new practice, then providing discounted services is one of the few methods a new practice has to introduce itself to the surrounding community, no different than a new restaurant trying to showcase its menu. The genuine intent is to build a relationship by showcasing the practice.
Dental costs will vary widely, depending on where you go and the quality of the practice you see. With respect to continuing care (on your next 6 month visit), a teeth cleaning charge is going to range somewhere around $65 to $89, but it can be more if there’s a need to do a full mouth root scaling. Often dental insurance will cover some or all of this cost for a specific number of cleanings per year. The exam is $45 to $55 and the 4 basic bite wing x-rays are around $59 to $72. Depending on your insurance this might be covered anywhere from 60 to 100% after a small deductible is met. Periodic X-rays ($32 -$135) are needed to see if any problems are developing inside the teeth or around the jaw bone, and are generally required before cleaning the teeth of a new patient (which is why some practices offer coupons to defray the initial cost of a first visit). These are also often covered by dental insurance.
Our main goal of professional teeth cleaning is to prevent gum disease, which is the primary cause of tooth loss. Dental hygiene is imperative, and cleaning your teeth is the first step toward their long term preservation. In a standard cleaning, a dental hygienist (working under a dentist’s supervision) removes soft plaque and hard tartar (mineralized plaque that builds up on the teeth and can only be removed with professional instruments) from above and below the gum line on all the teeth. The process requires one office visit and usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
The more extensive deep cleaning process called scaling and root planing is done by quadrants (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left) at a cost of about $100 -$400 per quadrant depending on the severity of the problem or $400 -$1,600 for the entire mouth, but more often than not, if the mouth is in such poor health the dentist will refer the patient out to a periodontist. Most dental insurance includes these procedures.
Again, the goal is a healthy mouth which an integral part of your overall health. Oh, and by the way, just because you had your teeth cleaned professionally, the jobs not done. You have to do your part and brush and floss daily if you want to keep them. If you have additional questions, feel free to email or call our office. Our goal here is to create an informed patient.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328