Dental X-Ray Costs – And What Are Your Options?
At times, during dental treatment, the Dentist will find it essential to take an x-ray of your mouth, to gain pictures of your teeth. So, how much do standard dental x-rays cost?
The costs of a dental x-ray can vary from $42 – $150, depending on many factors, including;
- The type of x-ray required.
- Whether it is taken in the dental chair, or off-site, and
- Your location.
Today I will discuss the different types of dental x-rays there are.
I will provide you with the costs of these x-rays in each state/territory of Australia.
I will talk about whether you can get all your x-rays done at your local Dental practice, or which x-rays will require you to take a trip to another location.
Lastly, I will discuss whether you can claim some x-rays on Medicare, or if you can claim others on private insurance.
What Types of X-Rays Are There?
A Dentist will use various different types of x-rays.
There are two types which are used;
- Little digital x-rays.
- OPG’s (the short name for “Orthopantomogram”).
Little digital x-rays only get a picture (as in, an x-ray) of certain teeth, they cannot get a picture of the whole mouth.
OPG’s take pictures of the whole mouth, from ear to ear, and everything inside (i.e. joints, teeth, and bone).
What is the Cost of These X-Rays in Each State?
The cost of all x-rays’ changes between each state/territory in Australia.
At the present time, the standard cost for little digital x-rays in Queensland is $42, making it the cheapest out of all the states.
The median cost for little digital x-rays in the Northern Territory is $47.
This puts NT on top for the most expensive dental x-rays out of all states (on average).
If you would like to find out your state’s average cost for a dental x-ray, head to our Dental Cost Calculator.
Can You Get All X-Rays at Your Local Dentist Practice
You cannot always get every type of x-ray done at your local Dentist practice.
All dental practices can do the individual tooth x-rays (i.e. the little digital x-rays).
However, not all practices have their own OPG machine.
So, you cannot always get a full OPG x-ray done at your clinic.
What happens then, you ask?
I will answer that question now.
Which X-Rays Require a Trip to Another Location
If your dental practice does not have an OPG machine, the Dentist will refer you to a radiologist.
Can You Claim X-Rays on Medicare
If the Dentist sends you to a radiologist for an OPG x-ray, this may be able to be claimed on Medicare.
However, there are some circumstances where you will still have to pay for them.
These are the type of x-rays that are quite involved, such as those for implants.
These x-rays will require a lot of information to be gathered, such as the depth, the length, everything for the bone.
But only some places will still not put these x-rays through Medicare, whereas others will not make you pay for them.
It is also important to note that this is the only x-ray that can be claimed on Medicare.
All x-rays that are done in-house (that is, in the dental chair) you will have to pay for.
So, if you have the OPG x-ray done at your dental clinic, you could pay up to $150.
However, it may be possible to claim the costs of these x-rays on private insurance, which I will discuss below.
Can You Claim Other X-Rays on Private Insurance
You can claim the cost of x-rays if you have private insurance.
All dental x-rays come under “General Dental”. This means that that your insurance company will cover the cost of all your x-rays.
Are Dental X-Rays Dangerous?
Dental x-rays have gained a reputation for being dangerous.
However, the truth is quite the opposite – they are required for your safety.
A dental x-ray will let your dentist see underneath the surface of your teeth, getting a better view.
This helps them evaluate and identify your case, preventing any diseases you may have from going undetected.
Unfortunately, X-rays have gained a bad name for themselves due to the radiation they expose you to.
However, there is no need for concern.
The amount of radiation used has been reduced by up to 80% in the last decade.
This reduction has come from more modern dental x-rays that use a new technology, known as digital x-rays.
So, this lessens any chance of causing harm or risk to you.
The same old methods are still used, such as;
- The walls are lined, and
- You will be asked to put on a lead body apron, which fully covers you from your neck down to your knees.
These are safeguards to ensure you are kept away from any stray radiation that may transpire, though the probability of that occurring is more unlikely.
Should You Only Have a Few a Year? (Or Any Form of Limit)
Many people are concerned about their safety when exposing themselves to radiation.
However, there are many other forms of radiation in the world that are worse than dental x-rays.
To clarify, a maximum yearly dose allowed by the Australian Government, for those who work with radiation, is 50.0 mSv.
The most common type of dental x-ray you will receive – the little digital x-ray – has a dosage of 0.02 mSv.
So, you can safely have many of these in a year, whilst remaining under the maximum yearly dosage.
Whereas, in other areas of life, there are higher dosages of radiation, such as a;
- Full body CT scan = 10.0 mSv.
- Mammogram = 0.42 mSv.
- Chest x-ray = 0.10 mSv.
- Yearly dose in food and water (potassium) – 0.4 mSv.
- Yearly dose if living in a brick, stone, or concrete house = 0.007 mSv.
- Dose from smoking one pack of cigarettes = 0.0049 mSv.
- Dose from eating a banana = 0.0001 mSv.
- 5-hour, 45-minute flight = 0.04 mSv.
As you can see, radiation is in all areas of life, not just in x-rays. You can get more radiation in a short flight, than in your dental x-ray.
Take comfort from that fact that if your Dentist is taking an x-ray, they are only doing so for your oral health.
The cost of a dental x-ray can range anywhere from $42 to $150.
This price range is because there are different types of x-rays a dentist will use.
The location of where your dentist or radiologist is located is also a factor.
Small digital x-rays are cheaper but only take a picture of specific teeth, rather than capturing your entire mouth.
Every Dental clinic can do these x-rays in-house (that is, in the dental chair).
OPG’s on the other hand, are more expensive but take pictures of your entire mouth, everything including your teeth, bones, and joints.
Not all practices have an OPG machine, so you may be referred to a radiologist, where you might be able to claim the costs on Medicare.
If you are concerned about safety, don’t be. There is no need to worry.
The radiation in dental x-rays has been reduced by 80% in the last decade, with the introduction of new technology.
The maximum dose allowed of radiation the Australian Government allows per year is 50.0 mSv.
The little digital x-ray only has a dosage of 0.02 mSv. So, you can safely have several of these a year and remain under the limit.
If you still have any fears about them, feel free to read our blog about when and why it is Necessary to Take a Dental X-Ray.
Have you had a dental x-ray recently?
By Andrew Adams
Created at October 28, 2020, Updated at September 30, 2021