5 Tips for Affordable Dental Care
Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash
The No. 1 reason adults don’t visit the dentist is due to cost according to the ADA. Are you one of them? If you are, you join the 59% of people surveyed who avoid the dentist because they don’t want to pay for the care. It doesn’t have to be this way even if you’re one of the 74 million Americans without dental insurance. Let’s look at some reasons why visiting the dentist regularly now will be a wise move along with five tips for affordable dental care so you never have to choose money over your mouth again.
Pay the Price when Oral Health is Neglected
Even if you think your mouth is healthy because you aren’t experiencing pain or sensitivity, there could be tooth decay lurking beneath the surface. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 27% of adults have untreated tooth decay. On top of that, nearly half of all adults 30 years and older show signs of gum disease.
When issues are caught early such as a small cavity, the cost of treatment is lower than if you wait for the dental situation to escalate. What starts out as a small cavity can continue to do damage if left untreated and could require a crown or root canal in the future to eliminate pain. The cost of getting a crown or a root canal is higher than to get a filling for a small cavity.
Did you know a toothache is the No. 1 reason people visit an emergency room even though most emergency departments in the United States aren’t equipped to treat dental conditions? In fact, dental disorders were among the top three discharge diagnoses from an emergency room. Compare the cost of an ER visit to get help for a toothache to a routine dental exam and cleaning to prevent toothaches and it’s clear what’s more affordable.
Your overall health and well-being are impacted by the quality of your oral health. People often think the only thing they risk by not visiting the dentist regularly is possibly a cavity or teeth that aren’t as white and bright. But the consequences for your overall health can be much more dire than that and include:
When gums are inflamed from periodontal disease bacteria can invade. That bacteria enters your bloodstream and can cause hardening of the arteries. The plaque that develops on the inner walls of the arteries can restrict blood flow throughout your body leading to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
Heart infection (endocarditis).
Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart, is caused when bacteria enters the bloodstream (which can happen when your gums are inflamed) and attaches to the lining of your heart.
Premature birth and low birth weight.
Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to dental concerns. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Those with gum disease might also have more trouble conceiving.
In the same way bacteria from diseased gums can enter your bloodstream and cause heart disease, it can also cause people to get infections of the lungs including pneumonia.
Blood sugar control.
Those with pre-diabetes or diabetes might find that periodontal disease makes it harder to control blood sugar thereby making diabetes symptoms worse.
Bacteria that enters the mouth can also enter nerve channels to cause brain damage. Some research suggests that oral bacteria and may contribute to the type of plaque linked to Alzheimer’s.
While there isn’t a direct cause-effect relationship with these diseases and oral health, there seems to be enough evidence to support the healthier your mouth, the healthier you are overall.
5 Tips for Affordable Dental Care
Now that you see the benefits of visiting the dentist regularly, let’s look at ways you can make that trip more affordable so that you don’t experience the higher costs of more intensive treatment down the road.
1. Preventative dental visits.
You’ve heard time and again Benjamin Franklin’s immortal words, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and this holds true for dental care as well. So, while you think you might be saving money by avoiding the dentist when you don’t have any concerns, it can cost you more in the long run.
Just like preventative care at your primary care physician’s office, the intent of preventative visits at the dentist is to keep your teeth healthy and free from cavities, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), periodontitis (gum infection) and enamel loss. For most people, it’s recommended to visit the dentist for an oral exam and cleaning every 6 months; however, it’s best to follow your dentist’s recommendation after your situation is assessed per the American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines. Along with brushing and flossing your teeth daily, don’t skip visits to your dentist. These exams allow dentists to identify problems and take care of them before they become larger concerns.
2. Know your insurance benefits.
Understand what kind of dental insurance you have (is it a Preferred Provider Organization or a Health Maintenance Organization) and what is covered and how often including X-rays, pre-existing conditions, your deductible, co-pay, annual maximums and what dentists are covered in the network. If your employer offers a flexible spending account or health savings accounts, explore how you might be able to set aside pre-tax funds to use for dental expenses.
Be sure you only visit dentists that accept your insurance. If you have any questions about what is covered and what isn’t, be sure to call your insurance provider to get clarification before your appointment. You can also request that your dental office submit a pre-treatment estimate so you can see how much you’ll likely be responsible for paying. It’s always good to have an understanding about how your dental insurance will cover emergency treatment well before you are experiencing one.
3. Get a dental plan.
To make it easier for patients to come in regularly for dental visits many dental practices offer a dental plan for those patients without insurance. These are licensed discount medical plans, not insurance. Typically, members will pay a yearly subscription fee to receive FREE exams and X-rays plus discounts on other dental services. These plans are similar to the OneSmile Dental Plan that is available at some of our locations.
4. Find a dentist with good financing.
Even if you have insurance, certain procedures won’t be covered at 100%. Therefore, it’s always good to have other financing options available to you. Search for a dentist that offers good financing and flexible payment plans with low interest rates and affordable monthly payments such as our Smile Now, Pay Later! plan. When scheduling your appointment, ask about any special promotions or discounts you might be eligible for such as a first-time visit discount or union member discounts.
5. Ask your dentist about treatment options.
Another tip to get affordable dental care is to be sure you understand your treatment options and to ask your dentist questions about what they recommend and why. Inquire if there are alternative treatment options that might be available to you that would be more affordable.
At Bright Now! Dental, we are committed to helping you get the dental care that’s right for you because we know how important preventative care and good oral health is to your overall health. We don’t want you to avoid a visit to the dentist for fear of the cost, so we will work with you to determine the best financing and payment plans available to you. You can contact us online or call 1-888-BRIGHT-NOW (1-888-274-4486) to make an appointment.