Of course, he came to the right guy because I may just be the only personal finance blogger on the planet who also uses things like dental forceps and dental wire bending pliers on a regular basis. Yes, that means I’m a real dentist! 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.
Typical benefits are between $1,000 to $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 at least twice per day; preferably after every meal. You’d be amazed at the number of people who 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.
- Take your time when brushing. 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. You may also want to 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 an occasional one is not a big deal — but sipping on them all day long will flat out ruin your teeth with cavities. I see this a lot in my practice and wonder why so many people never make the connection.
- Get your teeth cleaned every six months. No, this isn’t a racket for your dentist to make more money. It’s called prevention. Removing tartar buildup from your teeth prevents gum disease; and regular exams help find problems early, before they get out of hand and cost more to fix.
- Don’t go to the cheapest dentist in town. Some dentists will try to make up for cheap fees by doing unnecessary 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. As a result, they’ll end up spending more money on dental care than those who aren’t. I know — it stinks, but for them it makes these tips that much more important.
Also, if you’re afraid of the dentist, you don’t have to put off dental work anymore and incur larger bills because you waited too long. Ask the dentist for a mild sedative such as Valium or laughing gas (nitrous oxide). And 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 who will.
I hope these tips help you save a lot of money and time at the dental office.
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