If your teeth and gums don’t hurt and show no visible signs of problems, can you skip a dental appointment? Almost everybody wants to limit their dental care costs. But is avoiding regular dental checkups a smart way to save money?
Truthfully, skipping dental care is almost always a bad idea. Not only will your dental health suffer, but you’ll likely end up paying more for dental care over time. Here’s a look at why skipping dental care is a bad idea, and what cost-saving options to use instead.
Regular Dental Checkups Explained
Ideally, you want to visit the dentist every six months. Each routine dental appointment typically focuses on two parts: An oral health check and a full mouth cleaning.
Your dentist will examine the condition of your teeth, gums and mouth. He or she is looking for signs of cavities, gum disease and other developing problems. Aside from a visual inspection, your dentist will also take x-rays and measurements. This helps track any tooth movement, gum shrinkage and other changes over time.
The appointment will also involve a full mouth cleaning. Your teeth will be polished and cleaned to remove plaque, tartar and other debris. Plus, your teeth will also be thoroughly flossed. You’ll then be given specific tips for at-home care, as needed.
How Dental Damage Can Sneak Up On You
Dental decay typically develops slowly. At first, you probably won’t feel any pain or see any signs of trouble. Early stage dental issues are hard to detect but can quickly grow into serious problems.
For example, even a healthy mouth will develop plaque over time. This sticky bacterial film is easy enough to remove with daily brushing and regular cleanings. However, if not removed within about 24-hours, plaque will harden into tartar. Removing tartar requires a professional cleaning.
But the situation can get even worse. Tartar left untreated can lead a variety of oral health problems including tooth decay, gum disease or even tooth loss. Required treatments could include a deep cleaning, root canal, extraction or other major dental procedures.
Don’t Let Dental Decay Spiral Out of Control
Unfortunately, dental problems don’t heal on their own. Instead, they’ll only get worse over time. A small cavity can grow and spread to nearby teeth. Minor gum irritation can develop into full-blown periodontitis, which can destroy tissues and bones.
Every time a dental problem advances in severity, the treatments become more complex, time-consuming and expensive. Implants, dentures and other custom-created materials can also drive up the cost. Some dental procedures require the help of a dental specialist such as a periodontist or an oral surgeon.
Even worse, dental insurance typically provides less coverage for major procedures than preventative ones. Most policies provide full coverage for checkups and cleanings but cover only 50% of the costs for oral surgeries. While specifics vary, generally dental insurance covers prevention better than treatment.
How to Save on Dental Care
Preventative care helps you avoid future dental costs. But how can you save on dental procedures you need right now? While dental insurance can be helpful, especially with lowering the cost of preventative care, you might run into coverage limits for major dental procedures. Additionally, your dental insurance policy might also have limits on pre-existing conditions.
A dental discount plan is an affordable alternative to dental insurance. Plans offer savings of 15% to 60% at over 110,000 participating dental offices nationwide. Even better, savings are available right away and have no restrictions on existing dental problems. Members are given a discount card, which they simply present at the participating dentist’s office during the time of treatment. Savings cover a wide variety of preventative, minor and major dental procedures.
Delaying Dental Care Can Cost You Big
The best time to visit the dentist is when your teeth and mouth feel healthy. Checkups are usually fast, easy and inexpensive. Plus, both dental insurance and dental discount plans can help make most preventative care even more affordable.
Many people wait to schedule an appointment only after a dental problem has become obvious, or even only after it’s become too painful to bear. Unfortunately, this strategy probably won’t help save on costs. A dental issue you can see or feel is usually in a fairly advanced state. So treatment will typically be both extensive… and expensive. The earlier you visit the dentist, the more you’ll be able to save.
The cost of routine dental care will pay for itself over time – and those savings are sure to make you smile!