How much does a trip to the dentist cost?

It’s hard to muster up the courage to take a trip to the dentist, not just because of the potential pain, but also due to the potential hit your bank account could take. Especially since Australia isn’t a cheap place to live. In fact, it has the 12th highest cost of living in the world, with the US and UK well behind at 15th and 31st place respectively.

Dental health statistics show that in Australia:

  • three in 10 people delay or avoid seeing a dentist because of the cost
  • one in four children (aged five to 10) have untreated decay in their baby teeth
  • one in 25 people (aged 15 and over) have no natural teeth left.

How much does the dentist cost?

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) regularly surveys dental practitioners to provide accurate price data on more than 120 dental treatments. Overall, the fees charged by general practitioners increased by 3.7 per cent over the two-year period from 1 July 2020 to 1 July 2022. This is well below the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  

ADA data from 2022 shows that the average cost of a periodic check-up including an examination, scale and clean, and a fluoride treatment is around $219. However, there is a wide variation between different dentists – the cheapest will cost you $162 for those three items, and the most expensive will set you back $309.

Average cost of dental procedures

ProcedureAverage costRange
Comprehensive oral exam

Periodic oral exam

X-ray (per exposure)

Scale and clean (removal of plaque and calculus)

Fluoride treatment

Fissure sealing (per tooth)

Simple (non-surgical) tooth extraction

Prep of root canal (chemo-mech) – one canal

Prep of root canal (chemo-mech) – add canal/same tooth

Filling – anterior tooth – 1 surface

Filling – anterior tooth – 2 surfaces

Filling – posterior tooth – 1 surface

Filling – posterior tooth – 2 surfaces

Full crown (veneered) – indirect 

Denture (complete maxillary)$1522 $1016–2375
Table notes: fees charged for the most common services provided by general dental practitioners (averages for specialists vary). Data based on the ADA’s 2022 dental fee survey.

Why do costs vary so much?

Dentists in Australia are free to set their own fees, and there is no standard fee schedule for dental services. Prices can vary depending on factors such as the dentist’s location, overhead costs, and experience, as well as the difficulty and time required to perform a procedure on a specific patient.  

As a patient, you have the right to choose whether or not to proceed with a particular treatment plan, but many people lack the expertise to know whether a dentist’s recommendation is the best course of action. This can make it difficult to determine whether a dentist is trying to profit at your expense.

The ADA fee survey also highlights that the average cost of dental work varies widely across the states and territories of Australia. In general, people in SA and WA have access to the cheapest prices.

TreatmentLowest priceHighest price
Tooth extraction
$185 (SA)

$231 (ACT)
$148 (QLD)

$183 (TAS)
$185 (WA)

$253 (ACT)
Full crown (veneered)
$1615 (WA)

$1870 (WA)

Medicare and public dental care

Unfortunately, dental services are only covered by Medicare under certain circumstances.

The Child Dental Benefits Schedule pays $1000 over two calendar years for children aged two to 17 for basic dental services, including dental check-ups, X-rays, cleaning, sealing cracked teeth, fillings, root canals and extractions. It does not cover orthodontic or cosmetic dental work or any dental care provided in a hospital.

The states and territories provide public dental services both for children and adults. These may include emergency dental services or referrals to specialist services like orthodontics in a hospital. Adults must generally have a Health Care Card or Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card to be eligible, although the rules vary depending on where you live.

Each state and territory offers different services and you may have to wait up to a year or more to see a dentist.

Private health insurance and dental costs

When it comes to dental costs and private health insurance, there are two things you’ll want to keep in mind in order to get the best value for your money. First, look for a provider that offers rebates. This can either be a percentage rebate (such as 60 per cent) or a fixed dollar amount for each item number. This is usually where you’ll save the most money. Second, some funds have preferred providers who offer lower fees and higher rebates. However, this means you’ll be locked into using those particular providers.

The amount of money you can get back from your private health insurer for a regular dental check-up (including an exam, cleaning, and fluoride treatment) varies, but the average is $124. Some policies offer a full reimbursement of the cost of the check-up, while others offer less. Your dental rebate will also depend on the type of treatment you need.

Funds also don’t publish the rebates they offer for all items of dental treatment in all circumstances, so check if you need special treatment before you sign up.

Also, fewer policies are willing to fork out for more expensive work such as braces and crowns. For those policies that do cover major dental work, the premiums will generally be more expensive.

When did you last go to the dentist? How much did you pay? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Your dentist wants you to know this

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.


    • Hi Max, it depends on which state or territory you live in. “Adults must generally have a healthcare card or Centrelink pensioner concession card to be eligible. Depending on the state or territory in which you live, dental treatments may be free of charge or a partial payment for the treatment may be required.” You can find more information here:
      Let us know if you have any other questions,

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