NB Dental
Your Oral Health

Understanding Fees

How are dental fees determined?

Dental offices are similar to medical clinics and must adhere to strict regulatory standards in the interest of ensuring the highest level of patient safety and care. Dentists are essentially running mini hospitals and are responsible for a number of costs related to operating their dental office.

Specialized equipment; sterilization and safety protocols; hiring trained and licensed staff; and ongoing continuing education for the dental team all factor into the cost of dental care. External lab costs, materials used in treatment, the complexity of the treatment and practice location are also among considerations in determining costs.

Dentists have to consider such factors to determine the cost to deliver treatment for their office. Operating costs will vary between dental offices as well as provincially.

What is the suggested fee guide?

The New Brunswick Dental Society (NBDS) produces an annual suggested fee guide for dentists in New Brunswick. This document outlines over 1,400 dental codes and code descriptors related to specific elements of dental treatment. It also provides suggested fees that serve as a guide only.

Many dental plan carriers will base plan coverage on fees and codes within this guide. In some cases the coverage is based on previous year's guides (going back a year or more). (Note: Dental plan providers do not work with the NBDS to develop the guide.)

The suggested fee guide serves as a guide only; dentists are not required to follow the guide or any fee schedule. Dentists may use it as a reference to determine a fee for their dental services, as a communication guide to outline treatment options to discuss with their patient and to assist in billing patients' plans.

Are dentists required to follow the provincial fee guide?

While many dentists will follow a number of fees within the guide, there is no requirement to do so. Dental offices consider a number of variables when determining costs for their office.  Federal competition laws prohibit price fixing so definitive fees for services cannot be set.

Why does my dentist charge more than the provincial fee guide?

There is no requirement for dentists to charge the suggested fees outlined in the dental fee guides. Dentists determine costs for their office based on the factors influencing their individual practice.

How do I find out what a particular procedure might cost?

Patients are advised to discuss any questions related to recommended treatment options or the cost of treatment with their dentist.

The fee guide is very technical in nature with over 1,400 codes covering the wide range of diseases that affect a patient's oral and systemic health and the various components of dental treatment. Treatment may require one or multiple procedures codes outlined in the guide and all costs are determined by the individual dental office.

Patients are reminded that the provincial fee guide is only a guide and dentists are not required to charge the suggested fees outlined.

Why are specialist fees higher?

Dental specialists receive additional training in a particular field of dentistry. They bring a high level of expertise to treatment provided within their specialty. General practice dentists will refer patients where a specialist's care is required.

Treatment provided within specialty fields is often highly technical and complex. It can involve the use of specialized equipment or materials required for treatment, additional staffing needs and ongoing education. All of these factors are considered by specialists when determining treatment costs.

Can I get an estimate for treatment before going to the dentist?

Treatment recommendations are developed by the dentist beginning with an examination of the mouth. The dentist will examine the patient, review their health history, and discuss any symptoms or concerns the patient may be experiencing. If your dentist identifies an issue in your mouth, they will discuss this with you along with their treatment recommendations.

Depending on the treatment options presented, further discussions related to materials, the extent of the care required, whether or not laboratory fees factor into care, etc. can influence the estimate. Your dentist can work with you to review treatment alternatives and provide a cost estimate for the treatment plan before proceeding. Note: A dentist can only provide an estimate. As with any medical-based procedure, treatment planning can change over the course of treatment; this can have an influence on cost.

Can I get a second opinion; the cost estimate seems high?

It is important that you feel comfortable in proceeding with any dental treatment. Your dentist is there to support your health and answer any questions you may have, including why they are recommending the treatment presented and/or any related cost.

If you are concerned with any factors related to a proposed treatment plan, you are welcome to seek a second opinion. It is important to understand that there will be an additional cost associated with this as the second dentist will need to conduct an examination and consult with you to develop treatment options.

Questions you might ask your dentist:

Why can't a dentist provide a second opinion without an examination?

In order to provide an opinion related to dental care, a dentist must understand all the factors that are influencing a patient's health. A crucial part of this is an examination of the mouth to identify and diagnose any dental disease.

Is dental treatment guaranteed?

While dentists are committed to delivering high quality dental care to their patients, dentistry cannot be guaranteed.  To guarantee success is considered misleading and is contrary to the Code of Ethics of the Canadian Dental Association.

Is there anything I can do to limit the cost of dental care?

Prevention is the best way to maintain good dental health. Practice good dental habits at home: brush and floss daily; limit sugary drinks and snacks; don't smoke; and visit your dentist for regular care including an examination. It is important to diagnose problems before they become more complex and costly. Dental disease is progressive and unlike a cold, will not resolve itself. The cost of prevention is always far less than the cost of neglect.