If you need dental care, it's a good idea to get a pre-treatment estimate. You can get an estimate before any type of dental care. But, it's most important if you need a root canal or a crown or need to have a wisdom tooth pulled. Those procedures may cost more than $300. You can get an estimate whether you have insurance or not. If you don’t have insurance, you will have to pay the full cost—but at least you'll know what exactly you are paying for. If you have insurance, an estimate will tell you what’s covered and what’s not. Getting a Dental Estimate With Dental Insurance Most dental insurance does not cover everything. You may have a copayment, a deductible, and a payment limit. Here's the meaning of terms you might see on a dental estimate: Out-of-pocket costs. These are fees you must pay. It's the amount of your dental care costs your insurance does not pay. Copayments. You pay this amount for every visit. Deductible. You have to pay this before your insurance kicks in. Maximum benefit. This is the total amount your insurance will pay. After you hit the maximum, everything else is out of pocket. Class of service. X-rays and cleaning are class I services. Insurance usually pays 100% of these preventive services (insurance usually covers two cleanings a year and X-rays less frequently). Class II service includes fillings. Insurance often pays 80% of these costs. Class III services include crowns, bridges and dentures. Insurance may pay just 50%. Cosmetic services. This includes things like teeth whitening and caps. Insurance usually does not cover these services. If you have insurance and you ask for a dental estimate, this is what happens: Your dentist or oral surgeon will send a treatment plan to your insurance company. Your dentist will note the type of treatment you will receive. The dentist may need to include your X-rays. A number and a diagram will identify the teeth that need care. Your insurance company will send back an estimate in about two weeks. The estimate will tell you what services are covered, what will come off your deductible, what your maximum coverage is, and how much you can expect to pay out-of-pocket. Other Things to Know If you don’t have insurance, ask if your dentist offers a payment plan. Your estimate can then include monthly payments. If you have Medicare or Medicaid, coverage will depend on the state where you live. Ask your dentist to submit an estimate to your state plan. Getting an estimate does not mean you have to go through with the treatment. After you see the estimate, you can decide to ask for more options. Or, you can get a second opinion. You also may be able to spread out the treatment, giving you more time to cover the costs. Finally, remember that an estimate is just an estimate. Your final cost will depend on what treatment you actually receive during your visit(s).