The aim of this study was to assess the costs of setting up and maintaining dental care in the public sector. Costs were updated or depreciated according to the service's lifespan and were analyzed from the perspective of the service itself and society. According to the findings, for the service the total cost of setting up a dental care unit with seven rooms was BRL$860.643.67 in the first year, plus BRL$545,419.23 for maintenance, and clinical dental care was the most expensive specialty. For society, the total cost was BRL$990,065.06 (implementation) and BRL$668,369.55 (maintenance), and the most expensive specialty was prevention (US$1.00 = BRL$1.62). Capital costs represented a small percentage of total costs for a dental care unit, but they need to be considered, since they can modify the results. Due to the high costs, preventive and promotional interventions should not be performed in the clinical setting, but should be replaced by broader and less expansive population-based interventions, since considerable sums need to be spent by the low-income population to participate in free public programs.
Dental Health Services; Direct Service Costs; Dental Care