NU Online News Service, Sept. 10, 2004, 4:10 p.m. EDT

Filling a typical cavity and maintaining the filling could cost about $1,788 over the course of a patient’s lifetime.[@@]

Researchers at the Data Analysis Center, Seattle, have based that figure on an analysis of a database of more than 77 million dental claims. The researchers looked at the typical lifetime cost of handling a cavity in a front tooth for a 10-year-old who will live to age 79.

The lifetime cost of filling a cavity in a molar and maintaining the filling would be about $2,187, the researchers report.

The cost includes creating the initial filling, replacing worn fillings, and handling more advanced problems with crowns, root canal treatments or moves to replace bad teeth with artificial teeth.

The Data Analysis Center is a for-profit arm of the Delta Dental Plans Association, Oak Brook, Ill., an association for a group of large, nonprofit dental plans.