Well, he came to the right guy because I may just be the only practicing dentist/personal finance blogger on the planet. Pretty cool, huh?
So today I’ll share with you some of the best things you can do to save money on dental care so you don’t go broke at the dentist.
Dental care, like any other kind of health care, isn’t cheap. So it’s great to be able to save some money any way you can when it comes to caring for your teeth.
First, let’s talk about dental insurance. Dental insurance is a great thing, and if your workplace provides it at no cost to you, then obviously you should take it. But if you have to pay for all or part of your dental coverage, then it becomes a judgment call as to whether it’s a good deal or not.
A typical benefit is about $1,000- $1,500 per year per person and that’s it. It certainly doesn’t take long to rack up a bill that exceeds that limit. But if you have great teeth like my man Len and you rarely or hardly ever need anything other than a cleaning, then paying for insurance may be a bad deal. Just pay cash for your twice yearly cleanings and you’ll probably come out ahead in the long run.
However, if you consistently need dental work done every year or two, then insurance is probably a good deal from a numbers standpoint because they will pay out more money in claims than they take from you in premiums.
An alternative to having insurance is to insure yourself by budgeting a set amount every month for dental care. Then when the money is needed, it will be available.
Next, let’s talk about prevention.
Most people know how to prevent tooth decay and gum disease through brushing and flossing, but not nearly enough people do it effectively.
I know this stuff is common sense for most of you but it really does work:
- Brush every day at least twice, preferably three times (after every meal). You’d be amazed at the number of people that only brush two to three times per WEEK! I’ve even seen extreme cases of patients who had not brushed for YEARS! Then they come see me and ask why their mouth is hurting. I’m not joking.
- When you do brush, take your time. Thoroughly brush every surface of every tooth. This should take three to five minutes. Most people are shocked at how long three to five minutes seems when they are used to just brushing quickly and not really paying attention, but if you learn to be meticulous, that’s how long it takes.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. Most toothpastes have it but some don’t, so read your labels.
- Use a fluoride rinse after you brush.
- Stop it with the sugared drinks already. That means sodas, sweet tea, energy drinks, sports drinks, and anything else with sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Having one occasionally is not a big deal, but sipping on them all day long causes you to get a ton of cavities very quickly and will flat out ruin your teeth. I see this a lot in my practice and wonder why so many people never make the connection between lots of sugar and lots of cavities.
- Get your teeth cleaned every six months. No, this is not a racket for your dentist to make more money. It’s called prevention. Cleaning the tartar buildup off your teeth regularly keeps you from getting gum disease, and a regular exam helps to find any problems at an early stage before they get out of hand and cost more to fix.
- Don’t go to the cheapest dentist in town. Not all, but some will try to make up for cheap fees by doing more work. It’s sad but true. Ask your friends and family who they trust.
When it comes down to it, some people are just more genetically prone to dental problems, and those people are going to end up spending more money on dental care than other people who aren’t.
It stinks, I know, but it makes the tips above that much more important for those people.
Also, if you have mild dental fear, you don’t have to put off dental work anymore and incur larger bills because you waited too long due to fear.
You can ask the dentist for a mild sedative such as Valium or laughing gas (nitrous oxide). If you’re extremely fearful you can even ask for a deeper form of anxiety control called conscious sedation. If your dentist won’t do it, then find one that will.
In this day and age, with the anxiety management tools we now have, dentistry can be done much more comfortably than in the past.
I hope these tips help you save a lot of money and time at the dental office.
Do you have any additional tips? Leave a comment.
Dr. Jason Cabler is a Christian personal finance blogger, speaker, and owner of Celebrating Financial Freedom. He loves teaching people how to become debt free and live a debt free life through his blog, books, and CFF self study course.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Noble