Saving money is turning in to a national pastime, and yes, you can save money just about anywhere, including at the dentist’s office. Part of saving money involves being a good consumer as well as a good patient. Here are few tips to help you save money while you’re sitting in the dental chair.
If you have dental insurance, be a very good consumer and know what your policy covers. Dental policies may have annual limits on coverage, or may pay reduced benefits for certain services. Basic dental services like cleanings and x-rays are often covered in full as long as you follow the rules. Your dental insurance carrier will be able to provide a copy of your policy.
Traps to watch out for: procedures that are covered only periodically, or that are only fully covered when provided by a dental assistant. For example, your policy may cover a dental checkup once every six months or professional services that are customarily provided by graduates of dental assistant schools. To avoid being caught short, be sure your appointments are scheduled at least six months apart, and the dentist isn’t providing services that could be provided less expensively by a dental assistant.
Another item: x-rays. Your policy may cover standard bitewing x-rays once per year, but may not cover a panoramic x-ray at all. If your dentist offers both, you could get a pass from your insurance company on the bitewing pictures, but have to shell out for the panoramic view of your teeth.
Fillings may also cost a little more if you elect to use epoxy resin, but your policy only covers the less expensive (and less attractive) silver amalgam. Your insurance may only cover the cost of the cheaper material, leaving you to pay the balance.
Bottom line: know what your policy does and doesn’t cover.
Contact your dental insurance provider to find a list of local dentists who accept your insurance. Then contact providers and request a copy of their “usual and customary fees.” The difference between what your policy will cover and the fees the dentist charges will be your out-of-pocket costs for choosing one provider over another.
You may find some significant differences in costs between dentists. After you’ve checked out the costs, check out local reviews, and the state licensing board to find out if your potential provider has any outstanding complaints. Choosing a less expensive provider doesn’t mean that you’ll be getting lower quality care, but it could mean the difference between higher and lower dental bills.
Bottom line: Compare services and go with what fits your budget.
Dental Care “Out of the Chair”
Taking good care of your teeth ultimately saves money at the dentist. Brush your teeth regularly, especially after eating, and avoid sugary snacks that can promote tooth decay. Use a tartar control toothpaste (yes, they really work!) and floss between your teeth every day.
Long-term dental health is the goal, so don’t forget to address problems that could take years to develop. For example, if you grind your teeth, spend a few hundred dollars to get a custom-made bite splint. This device, which will last for several years, is worn at night and prevents you from grinding down the surfaces of your teeth. In the long run, this will preserve the strength of your teeth, protect the tooth enamel and help you avoid problems with dental sensitivity.
Don’t use your teeth to open packages and avoid acidic foods like fruit juices and sodas, which can also destroy tooth enamel, weaken teeth and increase sensitivity. Ultimately, the less work your dentist has to do, the lower your out-of-pocket costs will be. By taking good care of your teeth and developing good habits, you can help keep your costs for good dental care within reach.
Bottom line: taking care of your teeth always reduces the cost of dental bills.
Sara House is a recent college graduate that is looking for work. Her passion is writing and enjoys to freelance anytime she can.