Whether you’re one of those people who hates going to the dentist, or you feel super accomplished after your annual clean, regular visits to the dentist are a necessary part of your overall health care. However, even if you have perfect and healthy teeth, home dental care costs can add up – especially if you have small children. The average dentist visit can Cost between $50 and $350 or more, according to Cost Helper, a medical cost comparison website. A standard cleaning can cost between $70 and $200, and a root canal can cost up to $1,500. While dental insurance can help cover these costs, many plans have an annual maximum of $2,000.
Have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months (or at least once a year) to avoid future problems and catch existing problems before they become very expensive to fix. Remember: Bills for cavities are easier to swallow than bills for root canals, crowns, or extractions.
Keep a healthy smile on your budget. Here are a few ways to save money on dental care.
Treated at a local dental school
Going to a local dental school for treatment can help you save money, and they’re open to everyone – so it’s a great option if you don’t have dental insurance. The cost of dental school services is much lower, and their rates are significantly lower than private clinics. You can also check out the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). The clinics provide medical and dental care on a sliding scale for people with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Look for dentists who offer discounts or in-house dental plans
Ask your dentist’s office if it offers any discount programs, most do. If you don’t have insurance, finding a dentist’s office that offers an in-house dental plan is a great way to get care at a discounted rate. These plans can cover cleanings and X-rays, as well as discounts on implants, crowns, and other procedures. See if they offer service coupons.
You may be able to get a tax credit for a dental plan on HealthCare.gov. People with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level qualify, and this tax credit can save you hundreds of dollars a year in monthly premiums.
You can only get the credit if you buy a plan through the HealthCare.gov marketplace. Without employer coverage or federal premium tax credits, buying dental insurance on your own can be expensive. It may even make sense to drop your dental insurance altogether. We know it sounds crazy, but consider this: You could end up spending more on dental insurance premiums than the cost of a visit to the dentist. Ask your dentist about the cost and frequency of the services you receive, i.e., dental cleanings, X-rays, and examinations. You may find that co-pays are cheaper. If this is the case, put the same amount into a health savings account or regular bank account for your next dental visit.
See a dental hygienist
At least 42 states allow dental hygienists to treat patients without special authorization or a dentist present. In many states, you can save significant costs by having a hygienist do your cleaning, examination, X-ray, sealant, or fluoride treatment.
Check veterans’ benefits
If you are a veteran with a service-related dental disability, you can get dental care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. A well-known American coupon website CouponBirds has put together a collection of veteran discounts. You can find out if there are any dental deals available here.
Even within the same neighborhood, the price of dental services can vary by hundreds of dollars. Find the average price in your area at FAIR Health, a national nonprofit that works to increase the transparency of medical costs, then call several dentists and ask for quotes. If you live in a high cost of living community, driving to a lower cost area may be a good option.
Daily dental care and regular visits to the dentist are the most cost-effective ways to reduce the cost of dental care. Prevention is invaluable, and brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth, maintaining a healthy diet, and going to the dentist can help keep your body healthy and your dental bills down.
A bright smile and healthy teeth don’t have to be expensive. As a great preventative and money-saving option, make sure you maintain good oral hygiene so you can do your best to maintain a healthy mouth and a happy wallet.
Image Credit: Photo by The Humble Co. on Unsplash
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