change out old dental work

Can I Afford to Replace My Old Dental Work?

Do you have old dental work, metal fillings, or crowns that detract from your smile’s best features? You might be wondering if it’s possible—or even affordable—to replace your old dental work with newer, attractive restorations.


At Raleigh Dental Arts, smile makeovers are one of the things we do best. To help you afford cosmetic dentistry and updating older dental work, here are some things you’ll want to consider:



Start with Bleaching


Before we start changing out any of your current dental work, it’s best to start with a blank canvas. In this case, whiter tooth enamel. Since we’ll be updating restorations made from various ceramics, those materials will need to be matched to the teeth around them. They don’t respond to whitening agents, so whatever color we match them to on the day they’re placed will be the same shade that they are in 10 or 15 years.


We recommend investing in a teeth whitening treatment at least a few weeks before dental restorations are changed out. Whether you prefer an in-office (same day) process or a take-home kit is up to you. The main goal is to brighten your natural tooth enamel so that we can match your updated dental work against a whiter smile. That way you’ll be happy with the overall results instead of wishing you had whiter teeth.


Dental bleaching is an affordable way to jump-start any smile makeover. But most important, it provides our Raleigh dentist with a baseline for the color of your soon-to-be-planned dental work.


How much does teeth bleaching cost? The fee will depend on if you prefer in-office or take-home whitening. We recommend contact our office about current pricing or to find out about any running special offers.




If You Need to Change Out Fillings


Now that you have whiter teeth, we can plan to take out any visible old metal fillings and change them out with something tooth-colored. Ideally, we want to use as small and conservative of a restoration as we can.


One of the unique things about composite fillings is that they’re minimally invasive to teeth. The material bonds closely with your enamel to keep a strong, tight margin that blocks out new cavities while also minimizing the “prep” work to your teeth. When you’re considering a silver filling to save a few dollars, the trade-off might not actually be worth it when it comes to long-term benefits.


However, some metal fillings tend to be quite large and take up a significant amount of tooth structure. When they’re removed, we also have to prep the surrounding enamel in that area for a new restoration. If the silver filling takes up too much space, a small white filling may not be an appropriate replacement. But if your original restoration is fairly conservative, changing it out with a white filling shouldn’t be a problem.


Most dental fillings need to be updated every 10-20 years anyway, so timing your treatment with the age of your current restoration is extremely beneficial. Especially if you’re hoping to use your dental benefits toward the cost of changing out your silver fillings.



Do You Need New Crowns?


Sometimes older dental work cannot necessarily be replaced with the same level of restoration that you had prior. For example, an older and large silver filling may not be able to easily be exchanged with a white filling, because of the size. Instead, a full-coverage dental crown may be the next logical choice.


If you already have a crown, it will mean a new crown instead of something smaller. Or, it might mean a crown plus an additional buildup, depending on the integrity of the tooth you’re treating.


The cost of dental crowns or a crown plus a buildup will need to be estimated at the time of your exam. Prices on materials, which tooth needs a crown, and if anything like a root canal or sedation are involved can each impact the total cost of treatment. Since there are so many variables involved, examining your tooth will be an essential part of estimating the price of replacing old dental work.


Even various ceramics can have different costs associated with them, making dental crowns fluctuate in the overall price. Although it’s not ceramic, gold crowns are an excellent example. Since market rates for gold fluctuate based on supply and demand, the cost of a gold crown changes on a fairly frequent basis. During your treatment planning process, we can run different care plan options by you with various materials and lab fees included, so that you always have an idea as to what your investment will be. You’ll never have to worry about being caught off guard about your smile’s needs.




Updating Older Bonding


Cosmetic resin bonding is a quick and affordable way to cover small surface flaws. However, it does tend to pick up more stains than other types of aesthetic restorations because of the material that’s used. If you decide to update older bonding with new material, you may want to consider upgrading to dental veneers instead. Veneers are more durable and stain-resistant, providing better coverage and reinforcement than a small area of bonding might.


While you can change out older bonding with new bonding, keep in mind that the results might not last as long as you would prefer that they do. Which can lead to additional visits and fees a few years down the road.



Insurance Options for Replacing Old Dental Work


Will dental insurance pay to replace old dental work? It might, depending on how old the restorations are. Since most fillings or crowns only last for so long, they will eventually need to be updated at one point or another. But if you’ve only had a restoration for a few years and don’t like the way it looks, your insurance probably won’t pay to replace it.


Fortunately, older restorations that have “put in their time” and need to be updated can usually be applied toward your dental coverage. In that case, we’ll work up a care plan that outlines which restorations need to be changed out and in what order. From there we can tabulate your insurance coverage to determine an estimate on your benefits so that you have an approximate number in mind once it’s time to start planning your appointments.



Financing is Always an Option


Perhaps you don’t have dental insurance or the plan you carry doesn’t cover the treatment you want. Or maybe you do have dental benefits but they don’t cover 100% of your dental fillings and crowns. In that case, you always have the option of enrolling in a flexible payment plan. Payment plans allow you to start on your treatment as soon as you’re ready to while making modest monthly installments on the total price of your treatment.


If you can afford to update your older dental work, the boost you’ll enjoy in your confidence and how your smile looks are practically priceless. When you have an amazing smile, there’s no price tag you can put on the ability to show it off wherever you go.



What Happens if You Don’t Replace Old Dental Work?


Maybe your reasons for replacing older dental work aren’t cosmetic in nature. Perhaps the fillings are starting to leak or your crown is coming loose, because of an open margin around the edge. In that case, it’s not a matter of “if” you need to change out restorations, but how quickly you can.


If the price of updating dental work prevents you from getting the care you need, the leaky margins around your crown or filling will continue to allow food debris and bacteria from working their way down into those areas. Without timely treatment, that tooth can easily develop a serious cavity or abscess, requiring additional—and more intensive—therapies to prevent tooth loss. Especially once the nerve of a tooth gets involved.



Get a Customized Plan and Price Quote


Updating your dental work can take a bit of time as well as financial planning, depending on what all is necessary. When you visit Raleigh Dental Arts for an aesthetic consultation, we’ll work up a treatment plan that breaks down all of the applicable fees and timelines. That way you know exactly what you’re looking at when it comes to the number of appointments required and the total costs involved.


Chances are, we may be able to offer 2-3 different options for you to consider, giving you more wiggle room when it comes to the cost of replacing old dental work. As we review the choices with you, you can co-plan your care with our Raleigh dentist. Your input, opinions, and priorities will guide the overall treatment process. Sometimes having the figures and photographs in front of you makes it easier to navigate your way through the planning experience.




Reserve an Appointment Today


For a custom quote on replacing older dental fillings and crowns, call Raleigh Dental Arts today to reserve a consultation.

Tarun Agarwal

Dr. Tarun Agarwal, DDS is considered one of the top dentists in the country. He is a recognized speaker, author, and dental leader. He has been featured on CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and News 14 Carolina. Dr. Agarwal has been awarded '40 under 40' Business Leaders by the Triangle Business Journal. He is regularly invited to teach other dentists around the world and recently built a training center within the practice dedicated to sharing his expertise. Most importantly he is a loving husband and dedicated father of three wonderful children. His biggest accolade was being voted 'Best Dad in the World' by 2 of his 3 kids.