How Much Does a Cavity Filling Cost?

Written by: Staff

Filling a cavity is the process of restoring the function of a tooth that has been damaged, usually by some sort of decay which forms a hole in your tooth.  Once the decay has been removed, a filling will be placed to restore the tooth and prevent further damage.

Carie by yopuz, on Flickr
Carie” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by yopuz

How much does a cavity filling cost?

The cost will depend on the material being used, the tooth (front or back), how many surfaces, the geographical location and the dentist.

A single amalgam filling, which is made from a metal material, can cost $75 to $175 per surface without insurance.  Two to three surfaces can bring the total closer to $200 to $300.

Tooth-colored resin fillings can cost $150 to $275 per surface and closer to $400 if two or more surfaces are done at once.  Typically, those who have dental insurance will find it covers close to 50 to 75 percent of the costs; however, this will all depend on the policy.

Porcelain fillings, often referred to as a gold-cast filling, can be the most expensive option since they have to be custom ordered.  These fillings can be up to 10 times more than a traditional amalgam or resin filling, costing close to $1,000 to $3,500 or more.

Your Dentistry Guide says the average amalgam filling can cost $110 to $200 per filling, while a resin-based filling can cost $135 to $240 per filling.

The procedure

A basic cavity filling will remove the decayed part of the tooth and refilling it with one of the filling materials mentioned above.

Using a local anesthetic, the tooth will be isolated, and the dentist will either use a hand drill or laser to remove the decay on the surface.  Once removed, a liner will be used to reduce the sensitivity and will be made from a copalite or dycal.

During a routine filling, as long as nerves aren’t exposed, the filling will be filled, depending on the patient’s choice, after the liner has been filled.  If a composite filling is used, it will require an extra step to match the color to the tooth.

Once bonded, the dentist will use a bonding agent and a blue light to harden it within seconds.  When complete, the dentist will shape the filling to make sure the bite is right.

Types of cavity fillings


Known as a silver filling, an amalgam filling will be made of metal and have been used for years.  This filling will be made from a mixture of silver, tin and other materials and is known to be extremely durable since it’s made of metal.  Unlike a composite material, it will be noticeable since it will have a silver color.  However, one of the downsides is that some people worry if the metal in the mouth, particularly mercury, can be harmful.


A composite filling will match your tooth’s natural color and may be made from either acrylic, ceramic or plastic.  This type of filling will be great for the front teeth since it will be able to match the natural color, almost appearing as if it isn’t there.  However, these fillings can be costlier than an amalgam filling and can be discolored over time if the patient drinks coffee, tea or similar substances.

What are the extra costs?

Before a cavity is filled, a dentist, especially if you’re a new patient, will want to perform an oral exam, cleaning and take x-rays.  Depending on the dentist and if you’re a new patient, the costs could be as little as $20 to more than $250.

A hard to reach tooth, such as the back molars or an impacted tooth, could cost 20 percent more.  Other complications could increase the price as well.

If the cavity goes too deep and exposes a nerve, a root canal may be recommended/required.

How can I save money?

If you have a dental insurance policy or a discount plan, then the costs will be lower since these plans will often cover the procedure.

If you’re happy with your dentist, still consider getting prices from other offices.  If you find another office is 20 percent lower, bring it up to your dentist to see if they are able to match the price.

Consider a dental school if you’re tight on funds.  While a student will be working with you, they will always be shadowed by an experienced dentist.  Going to a dental school can be one of the lowest cost providers in any geographical area.

Check out local daily deal websites, such as Groupon, to see if any dentist offices are offering a deal.  Since this is a competitive field, many dentist offices offer low-cost deals to lure in new patients.

Highly consider a dental discount plan.  These plans can have an annual fee, usually less than $200, and can knock up to 60 percent off your bill.

Even if you don’t have insurance, it doesn’t mean you can’t save.  Ask your dentist if they are willing to give you a discount if you were to pay the bill in cash.

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