Dental care can be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have the tendency to skip the dentist in order to save money, you’ll want to keep reading. We have 10 ways for you to get the dental care you need, without blowing your budget.
- Brush up on dental care basics
Good oral hygiene starts at home. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth morning and night for two minutes at a time, and floss between each tooth daily. Both of these are essential to remove tartar and plaque, which are culprits of tooth decay, gum disease and costly dental issues down the road.
- Schedule regular dental checkups
Going to the dentist routinely is a must. Your dentist can get into those hard-to-reach areas of your mouth and perform a much deeper and more thorough cleaning than you can at home. Plus, your dentist can detect problems early on before they become more serious and expensive issues. Six-month dental checkups are widely accepted as the norm but ask your dentist how often you should come in.
- Ask questions
Dentists are like every other business and want to make a profit. Any time your dentist suggests a dental treatment or procedure, do your due diligence. Find out if what your dentist is suggesting is medically necessary. For example, your dentist may try and sell you on teeth whitening, which is a cosmetic procedure and likely won’t be covered by dental insurance. Additionally, always ask if less expensive treatment options are available, and be sure to get a written quote before agreeing to anything.
- Shop around
You can price shop dentists the same way you would any other service provider. In fact, with a little research, you’ll find that the cost of dental care can vary widely — by hundreds or thousands of dollars — within your city. With that said, call around until you find a dentist and a price that you’re comfortable with, even if that means leaving your current dentist.
- Use pre-tax dollars
Many employers offer a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA). You can contribute pre-tax dollars to either of these accounts to help with future healthcare expenses. Since you can’t spend what you don’t have, it’s a good idea to schedule recurring automatic deductions from your checking account to your HSA or FSA. You likely won’t miss the small amountsthat are transferred each paycheck, but you’ll be glad the money is there when it comes time to use it. Think of it as your rainy day dental care fund.
- Use an interest- free credit card
If you don’t have an HSA, FSA or an emergency fund to help with the cost of dental care, see if you qualify for a 0% interest credit card. This will allow you to spread your dental care costs over a longer period of time without accruing any extra fees. Just be sure to stay to pay the minimum each month, as well as the balance before the 0% introductory period expires. Check out CreditCards.com to compare different 0% credit card offers.
- Ask for a discount
If you have some money set aside, ask your dentist if they are willing to give you a discount for paying in cash up front. Many dental providers will give you at least a small discount because it saves them money as well since they are able to cut out the dental insurance carrier.
- Cancel your dental insurance
Dental insurance isn’t for everyone. Look at how much you pay for dental care on average each year, which includes dental insurance and out-of-pocket dental expenses. And then look at how much you would pay for the same dental procedures if you didn’t have dental insurance. You may find that having dental insurance is an upside-down investment for you.
- Visit a dental school
Dental schools are a great place to get low-cost dental care on everything from cleanings and fillings to root canals and wisdom tooth extractions. The dental students work under the supervision of licensed instructors, so rest assured that you’re in good hands. Visit American Dental Association to find dental school programs near you.
- Dental savings plan
A dental savings plan is a more flexible and affordable alternative to dental insurance. For roughly $80, you can purchase an annual membership to a dental savings plan. This allows you to get discounts between 10% and 60% on most dental procedures, including things that dental insurance won’t cover.
Affordable dental care
There you have it. It is possible to get more affordable dental care. Start putting these 10 tips into practice today. If you need a little more motivation to do so, think about all the things you can do with the money you won’t be spending on dental care.