A trip to the dentist is often painful – not only in the mouth but also in the pocketbook. It seems that even the simplest of procedures requires a seemingly unending list of related expenses that drive the bill through the roof.
Telling the dentist to “skip the Novocaine and bring on the pain” might bring down the cost a bit, but there are other, less painful ways to save money while keeping those pearly whites nice and shiny.
An Ounce of Prevention
No doubt, you have heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to teeth, Benjamin Franklin’s wise words could not be truer. One of the best ways to save money on dental work is to practice preventative care. A report by the Children’s Dental Health Project indicates that preventative care in young children often results in an average of 40% lower dental costs over the long term and that every dollar spent on fluoridation treatments saves $38 on future dental care. Whether you are concerned with future dentistry costs for your children or saving money on your own dental care, here are a few tips that can save your future finances.
- Teeth Brushing – Of course this one almost goes without saying; after all, everyone knows he should brush his teeth, right? The key to maintaining a healthy mouth is regular, proper teeth-brushing habits. The trouble is that many people do not take time to brush their teeth often enough, do a poor job of it, or use improper toothbrushes. The ADA recommends brushing teeth at least twice a day, replacing toothbrushes every three to four months, and using an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste. Look for proper tooth-brushing techniques online or ask your dentist to teach you.
- Flossing – Another great way to maintain good oral health is through daily flossing. This is a habit that parents should teach their children as soon as they have two teeth touching.
- Fluoride Treatment – Fluoride is a mineral that helps to protect the teeth from the acid that can erode enamel and cause cavities. Drinking fluoridated water is one way to protect your teeth, but fluoride treatments at the dental office are another great way to get extra protection.
- Sealants – Just like varnish protects wood surfaces, dental sealants help to protect teeth from the onslaught of sugars and bacteria that can cause tooth damage. Many dentists suggest that children should get sealants on their permanent teeth as soon as they come in.
- Regular Cleaning – Teeth cleaning is not just a way for a dentist to make money and torture you. Cleaning removes built-up plaque that would otherwise stay on your teeth and cause demineralization. How often teeth should be cleaned depends on each individual’s needs and can be determined by the dentist.
Savings on Dental Work
Inevitably, everyone is going to need some extra dental care at some point. If you are past the point of prevention and in need of some treatment, there are still some great ways to save money in the process.
- Discount Network – If you need a lot of dental work, or if you are interested in regular preventative care for you, your spouse, and your children, joining a discount network may be a great way to go. Some experts recommend dental plans over regular dental insurance, citing greater savings, access to better providers, and long-term cost reduction for the whole family. Be aware of scams, and choose your plan carefully.
- Do Your Homework – Being informed almost always saves money in the long run. One of the biggest dental mistakes is simply agreeing to the first treatment a dentist recommends. If you are looking at expensive procedures, do a little homework first. Ask your friends from whom they have received treatment. Call around, get some price quotes. Ask your dentist for a discount; tell him what prices you were quoted elsewhere. A smart patient usually ends up paying less while receiving better care.