How much does a filling cost in the UK? It depends on where you get your dental work done. For the best prices, try to use the NHS whenever possible. For cosmetic fillings, compare different private providers for the best price.
Wondering how long fillings last? That depends on two factors:
- The quality of filling material
- Your diligence during aftercare
First, let’s look at how NHS and private facilities differ in cost.
Dental Filling Cost: NHS & Private
Most dentists in the UK offer both NHS and private dentistry services. Offering more than one type of service is usually necessary because the NHS doesn’t cover procedures classified as cosmetic only.
How Much Is a Filling in the UK?
How much does a filling cost UK citizens? It depends on the nature of filling and the type of tooth.
If you need a filling in one of your front teeth, the NHS will cover you for white fillings – the procedure is classified as a Band 2 service, costing you £62.10. Private tooth filling costs are typically higher and can cost more than £250.
How much does a filling cost UK citizens looking to get cosmetic work done?
Saving with NHS filling costs is not an option if you want white fillings for your molars and premolars, as the NHS only covers amalgam fillings for these teeth. White fillings, in this instance, are considered more cosmetic than functional, so you’ll need to go private if you want this treatment.
Before filling a tooth, the dentist first cleans out the decay using a drill or sometimes a laser tool. After the cavity is properly cleared, the hole is filled with an appropriate material, which is then polished.
Filling costs vary with the complexity of each of these steps.
Dental practitioners invest a lot of time and money when learning to operate dental laser tools. If a laser is used to remove decay from your tooth, expect the process to cost a little more. The extent of decay may also complicate or prolong the filling process resulting in a more expensive bill.
If the decay is extensive, for example, the dentist may have to protect the nerves with a glass ionomer before proceeding with your filling of choice.
Do Fillings Hurt?
Many people wonder if fillings hurt. A tooth filling is an intrusive procedure, and the drilling aspect of the process is particularly uncomfortable. Fortunately, local anaesthesia is used to numb the areas around the tooth. Without this, the process would be unbearably painful for many patients.
How Long Do Fillings Last?
How long a filling lasts depends on a few factors, but especially on the type of material used.
Composite fillings are not as durable as their amalgam equivalents. Amalgams are good for 10-15 years while composites are only suitable for around 5 years.
How much does a long-lasting filling cost? It depends on whether the filling plays an aesthetic role as the NHS doesn’t cover such fillings.
It’s important to remember that fillings last longer with the proper aftercare. The better your dental hygiene, the longer you’ll keep both composite and amalgam fillings.
Types of Filling
The type of filling is another factor that informs how much you’ll pay. Here are the most common filling materials available:
- Glass Ionomer
Cast Gold Fillings
Some patients opt for cast gold fillings as a status symbol. Apart from its cosmetic appeal, gold is also very durable. However, it’s not very popular in the general population because of its price.
- Gold is attractive and fashionable to some patients
- The metal is durable and will last for 10-15 years
- Strong enough to withstand chewing
- Gold is costly
Silver amalgams raise a few health concerns because they contain mercury. However, there’s no substantial evidence to show that amalgams, as used in 100 years of dentistry, pose any health risks.
- Can last for well over 10 years and as much as 15 years with the necessary aftercare
- Cheaper than the other options
- The filling process is faster than its alternatives
- Is covered by the NHS
- May create fractures because they expand faster than teeth
- They may yellow the teeth sections they touch
- Some people dislike the appearance of silver amalgam fillings
These fillings are usually porcelain or related derivatives. They match teeth colour but can get quite expensive. How much does it cost to get ceramic fillings? Sometimes, as much as gold fillings.
- Extremely resistant to staining
- Appealing to the eye
- Last longer than 15 years
- One of the most expensive options
These fillings are made of acrylic and special glass. They are often used with other types of fillings because they are fragile on their own.
- They release fluoride which prevents further tooth decay
- Don’t irritate nerve-endings
- Customisable to match the tooth colour
- They rarely last as long as 5 years
- Cost as much as composites, but don’t last as long
These tooth-coloured fillings are practically indistinguishable from the rest of your teeth.
- Look like real teeth
- Composites bind with teeth to increase support
- They don’t require as much drilling as amalgams
- Cost more than amalgams
- The procedure takes longer than an amalgam filling
To sum up, the cost of a filling in the UK depends on the procedure, the type of filling, and which tooth is involved. Private dental work is almost always more expensive than the NHS, but you will have access to a broader range of services.
What about your time in the chair and how long does a filling take? Typically, composites will take an extra 20 minutes in the chair compared to amalgams, although the amount of drilling required also plays a significant role. And the more your tooth has decayed, the longer the visit.
When Should You See a Dentist?
See a dentist immediately if you notice a cavity. Keep in mind that some cavities are not obvious, but some common signs that indicate that you might have a cavity include:
- Tooth pain or general aching
- Sensitive to hot, cold, or sweets
- Pain when eating
It’s best to avoid hard foods for up to two weeks after a filling. That said, you’ll be able to chew normally after 24 hours for amalgams, and immediately after the anaesthetic wears off for composites. Follow any directions given to you by your dentist and observe proper dental hygiene to keep your teeth and fillings intact for longer.
Once you have your filling taken care of make sure you visit the dentist at least once every year for a checkup.