Too many Americans skip necessary trips to the dentist. Why is that? It could be because of dentophobia (fear of the dentist). The most likely cause behind this consistent absence is the fact that dental care is expensive.
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The State of Dental Coverage in the States
Many Americans don’t have dental insurance. Dental isn’t lumped in with general health insurance, despite the fact that dental problems are often connected to illnesses treated under health insurance. Some citizens can get dental coverage through their workplace, but most will have to look into private plans to help them afford their trips to the dentist.
So, should you get a private insurance plan? If you’re trying to save money, the answer is no. A private plan will be expensive, and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee full coverage of dental services. There will be caps on coverage for treatments. Another issue with private insurance is that it takes time for it to be usable. You can’t sign onto the plan and use it right away.
There are better ways to trim the costs of dental work.
How Can You Reduce Costs?
Dental Savings Plan
Instead of getting private dental insurance, you should consider a dental savings plan — this is also called a dental discount plan. An annual membership will only cost $150 or less per family.
It’s a benefit program that lets you access discounts with certain dentists. The plan won’t cover 100% of the treatment costs, but it will reduce them so that they don’t put such a big dent in your wallet.
Make sure to check whether the dentist you are going to accepts dental savings plans. Not all dentists will. You don’t want to go through your appointment and then find out that you have to pay for the entire treatment out of pocket.
Ask the Dentist
Lots of dentists offer opportunities for you to save. Call your dentist’s office and ask about any potential discounts or deals that you can access as a patient. They might offer discounts to patients that refer their friends and family members. They might offer discounts when you pay for your services in cash instead of credit. They might also offer sliding scale prices or payment plans for low-income patients without insurance.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
Rethink Your Clinic
If your dentist’s office is too pricy, you can go to a different location to get your dental work done. You can get the same services at more affordable prices at dental schools, community dental clinics and non-profit organizations.
Take Care of Your Teeth
The better that you take care of your teeth, the less likely it is that you’ll have to pay for expensive services. So, what can you do to practice good dental hygiene?
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss everyday
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat less sugar
- Wear a mouthguard when you’re playing sports
- Wear a nightguard if you grind your teeth when you sleep
Credit: Sarah Pflug via Burst
What Else Can You Do to Prepare for Dental Costs?
Save Up for Emergencies
Sometimes, dental emergencies happen. You can break a tooth while playing a contact sport. You could lose a crown after biting into something hard. You could have a toothache that keeps you up all night. Whatever it is, you can’t wait until your annual cleaning to address the problem. You need to call your dentist and set up an appointment right away.
You should start setting up an emergency fund so that you can manage that cost at a moment’s notice. With this fund, you could pay for the urgent treatment on the day of your appointment without affecting your monthly budget. You don’t have to choose between paying your bills and fixing your teeth.
It will take time to build up your emergency fund. While you’re building it up, you could apply for a line of credit online if you run into any urgent financial problems. If you’re approved for a line of credit online, you could request a draw and have funds in your bank account quickly. It could come in handy when you don’t have the savings to manage your dental costs right away.
Don’t Skip Dental Care
It may sound counterintuitive but skipping dental appointments will not save you money. It will cost you more to ignore them. A quick cavity filling is much more affordable than a root canal or tooth removal.
In general, you should visit the dentist at least once a year for a cleaning. You should also book an appointment any time that you think you have a problem, whether it’s a painful cavity or a cracked tooth. Don’t skip these visits. It will be better for your wallet in the long run.