What you need to know about dental fees in Ontario:
- Costs vary from dentist to dentist.
- Fees are shaped by many factors, such as labour, materials and overhead expenses.
- The ODA Suggested Fee Guide may be used by dentists and plan providers for reference.
- Specialists have additional circumstances that influence their fees.
- If left untreated, small problems could become more expensive to treat and more harmful to your health.
Factors that Influence Dental Fees
No two mouths and no two treatments are the same. The operating costs of a dental office can also differ. Dentists have to consider these and several other factors when determining their fees.
These factors include:
- The complexity of the treatment
- The time it takes to perform the treatment
- Products and materials used in the treatment
- Specialized equipment
- Sterilization and safety protocols
- Hiring trained and licensed staff
- Ongoing continuing education for the dental team
The location of the dentist’s practice and other common overhead costs can also influence dental fees. This means that operating costs and treatment fees can vary between dental offices.
Dental Specialist Fees
When your treatment requires special care or procedures, your dentist may refer you to a dental specialist. Dental specialists receive extra training in a particular field of dentistry. They bring a high level of expertise to treatment provided within their specialty, so their fees may be higher.
Treatment provided by specialists is highly technical and complex. It often involves the use of special equipment, materials and staff, and requires ongoing education. Like dentists, specialists must take into account all these factors when developing their fees.
Learn more about dental specialists.
The ODA Suggested Fee Guide
Ontario dental fees may also be influenced by the ODA’s annual Suggested Fee Guide. The Guide lists every dental service that dentists may perform. It also outlines dental codes and suggested fees for each specific service. Both dentists and dental plan providers may use the Guide as a reference point to help inform service fees.
Dentists are not required to follow the Guide or any fee schedule. They set their own fees based on the factors influencing their individual practice. This means that your dentist’s fees may vary both above and below the Guide.
Many dental plan carriers will base their plan coverage on fees and codes within the Guide. In some cases, the coverage may be based on previous years’ Guides (going back a year or more). Dental plan providers do not work with the ODA to develop the Guide.
The Guide is not available on the ODA website, but print copies can be found in the reference section of many public libraries. The Guide is a highly technical document containing more than 1,400 codes; each code represents a dental procedure and uses correct dental terminology. That means you won’t find words such as cleaning, check-up, filling, cap or bridge. Patients often need help in interpreting the terminology to understand it. We recommend you ask any questions related to your treatment and costs with your dentist.
Limiting the Costs of Dental Care
The best way to limit costs is to maintain good dental health at home. You can do this by:
- Brushing at least twice daily for two to three minutes
- Flossing daily
- Limiting sugary drinks and snacks
- Visiting your dentist for regular care, including an examination
Regular dental appointments and early diagnosis can also help reduce the overall cost. For more dental health care tips, visit the Care and Disease Prevention section.
If you’re experiencing oral pain or discomfort, please contact your dentist. Ignoring warning signs is dangerous to your health and can also become more expensive to treat if it gets worse! For example, an untreated cavity can lead to a root canal.
Instead of avoiding care, talk to your dentist about treatment and payment options. Your dentist is there to help you get the care you need, so don’t be afraid to ask.