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Anyone who has needed dental work in the last few years knows that the cost can vary a great deal. That’s because there is no centrally fixed cost related to any type of dental procedure. Even so, it is possible to find affordable care for many basic dental procedures.

This does not mean that you have no point of reference for determining whether the price for a specific procedure is within what is considered a standard and usual fee. The American Dental Association publishes an annual survey of dental fees, using information collected from random samplings from dental professionals around the country. While what you read within the survey may or may reflect the cost of dental work in Westfield, the information can be helpful.

It’s also important to consider other factors that may have come influenced on how much you will pay for dental work. Here are some of the more common ones that you should think about closely.

Competition in the Local Market

Throughout the United States, the cost of dental care is influenced by the number of dental professionals who are practicing in a given area. Simply put, smaller cities and towns with fewer dentists are likely to be the sites of higher dental costs. By contrast, cities that are more populous, or even smaller cities that are in close proximity to larger ones, will likely offer more competitive pricing.

A quick check with several dental clinics will provide some idea of what sort of pricing is related to basic dental procedures. In the Westfield area, you are likely to find that most family dentists use fee structures for basic services that are similar.

Shifts in the Economy

A simple fact is that brighter economic conditions translate into higher levels of disposable income for many households. When the economy is not doing well, people are more likely to delay any expenditure that they deem to be non-essential. For many, that may mean putting off visits to the dentist.

Dental practices continue to have expenses even during recessions and other economic conditions. With a temporary reduction in patients, the pricing for certain procedures may increase in order to cover operating costs.

The Complexity of the Procedure

Some dental procedures are simple and can be completed in a half-hour or less. Others may require several hours and multiple visits. In general, the complexity and the time invested in the procedure will impact the expense.

In other words, expect to pay more for a root canal than you would for a simple extraction. A filling will be less expensive than preparing for a dental implant. Consider the time and effort needed, and it won’t be difficult to see why the cost is a little more than for a different procedure.

Having a Dental Insurance Policy

The reality is that dental coverage is typically not included in a health insurance policy. You can obtain a stand-alone policy issued by the same provider, or secure a dental insurance plan from a different one. Doing so will mean saving a lot of money on all procedures that are covered.

Keep in mind that most dental insurance policies offer more benefits if you use a dentist who is considered to be in the provider’s network. Opting for care from a dental professional who is outside that network will likely mean reduced benefits, or even the inability to use the policy at all.

Or a Discount Dental Plan

Dental insurance is not the only option for keeping the costs within reason. There are also discount dental plans that some dental professionals accept. Essentially, these plans pay either fixed amounts or percentages of the dentist’s published fees for specific procedures.

While discount plans sometimes cost less than dental insurance, don’t assume that is always true. Further, discount plans typically don’t cover as many types of dental procedures as insurance. That could mean you end up having to pay for most of the procedure out of your own pocket.

Cosmetic or Essential Procedure

While health insurance policies are not likely to cover dental procedures in most cases, there are times when the provisions will extend to cover the costs. The key is whether or not the procedure is considered cosmetic, or if it’s thought to be essential.

For example, the decision to get braces would be considered cosmetic in most cases. However, when the goal is to repair the damage that was sustained due to a severe bodily injury that includes a direct hit to the mouth, this procedure may be considered restorative and essential. In the latter case, you may pay only a small amount out of pocket. If it’s deemed to be cosmetic, you’ll need to find a way to pay for the entire amount.

Remember that taking care of your teeth and gums is an investment. Along with ensuring your smile is brilliant, oral health is important to your overall well-being. Choose a dentist wisely, be aware of the costs, and have a plan in advance to take care of any out-of-pocket expenses involved. In the long run, you’ll be glad that you did.