A trip to the dentist can be a pain in the mouth, and a pain in the wallet. So much so that cost is actually the #1 reason people do not visit the dentist more frequently, according to a 2016 report from the American Dental Association.
Unfortunately, dental care for adults is one of the most common exclusions from medical insurance and Medicare. Even with dental insurance, coverage on some of those big-ticket procedures — like crowns, bridges, dentures, braces and implants — can be limited, there might be a waiting period to start on an emergency, and your annual max is only $1,000.
The good news is there are some ways to help make dental care more affordable, and less avoidable.
Here are four tips that can help take a bite out of dentist bills, thanks to the Consumer Health Alliance.
First things first: Like most of our healthcare, preventive care is the key — brushing twice a day, flossing daily and keeping your twice-a-year cleaning at the dentist. This will help you to avoid costly problems in the future. Especially for dental care. A cavity that might cost you a couple hundred to fill now could lead to a root canal down-the-road that will cost you hundreds more.
Go to a dental school: The dental student teaching clinic at Texas A&M’s College of Dentistry offers high-quality dental care for much less than you would pay at a practice. The work is done by students under the guidance of a seasoned instructor, plus the tools and equipment are very up-to-date. But, the services may take more time or there might be a waiting list to get in.
Try a dental savings plan: A non-insurance dental savings plans can save you anywhere from 20% to 60% off the regular cost of dental procedures. Membership plans are similar to a wholesale store like Costco, but for discounts at the dentist. You get a list of in-network dentists and a discount on procedures when you visit those providers. Plans also have no waiting periods and may include discounts on cosmetic dentistry and braces. To look for options and participating dentists in Dallas, check out DentalPlans or Careington online.
Speak up: Ask your dentist for a discount or options to pay over time. Some practices may also offer reduced prices for referrals or if you’re paying upfront with cash.