5 Ideas for Affordable Dental Care
Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash
When was the last time you visited the dentist? If you often miss your regular dental exams and teeth cleaning appointments, is it because you avoid the dentist due to the expense? The ADA’s research shows that the No. 1 reason adults don’t go to the dentist is because of the cost. Since 74 million Americans don’t have dental insurance, there are a lot of people looking for ideas on how to get affordable dental care. We’ve got you covered with these five ideas for affordable dental care.
Pay Now or Pay Later
The earlier a dental issue is caught the easier-and less expensive-it will be to treat. Decay might start off as a small cavity, but if left untreated the decay can spread and then require more invasive and expensive treatments such as crowns or root canals. Nearly half of Americans 30 years or older have some signs of gum disease and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 27% of adults have untreated tooth decay. So even if you think your mouth is healthy because you don’t have any sensitivity or tooth pain, it’s still a good idea to have regular check-ups to be sure decay isn’t lurking beneath the surface.
Many people end up in emergency rooms across America when they get a toothache. In fact, a toothache is the No. 1 reason people go to an emergency room. Unfortunately, they aren’t really equipped to treat dental conditions. Which would you rather pay? A dental exam or an ER visit? A routine dental exam and cleaning to prevent toothaches is much more affordable.
You will also be more susceptible to certain health conditions because your overall health is connected to your oral health in interesting ways. So not only do you risk cavities and dull teeth by not going to the dentist, you might be putting your health at risk. Here are certain health conditions that might arise from sub-par oral health:
Blood sugar control.
Periodontal disease might make it harder for those with pre-diabetes or diabetes to control blood sugar. When blood sugar fluctuates it exacerbates diabetes symptoms.
Bacteria from diseased gums can enter your bloodstream and cause infections in your lungs including pneumonia.
Premature birth and low birth weight.
While those with gum disease might have more trouble conceiving, pregnancy also causes dental issues for many women. Periodontitis has also been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Oral bacteria might contribute to the type of plaque linked to Alzheimer’s according to some research. That same bacteria can enter nerve channels and travel to the brain and cause damage.
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.
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.
More research needs to be done to establish a firm cause-effect relationship with these diseases and oral health, but there seems to be enough evidence to support the healthier your mouth, the healthier you are overall.
5 Ideas for Affordable Dental Care
Since regular dental visits are so important for a healthier you, they shouldn’t be skipped. In order to make them more affordable, check out these ideas:
1. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
These words by Benjamin Franklin explain why it’s so important to keep your regularly scheduled dental exam and cleaning appointment. Even though you think you might save money by avoiding the dentist when you have nothing obvious that’s causing you a problem, it can cost you-and sometimes a lot-more in the long run.
Preventative dental visits are intended to keep your teeth healthy and free from gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), cavities, periodontitis (gum infection) and enamel loss. We encourage you to follow your dentist’s recommendations for how often you should schedule preventative care, but for most people, a visit to the dentist for an exam and cleaning should happen every 6 months. Daily brushing and flossing are also important to keep your mouth as healthy as it can be. These regular check-ups allow your dentist to discover any issues and take care of them before they get more severe.
2. Inquire about treatment options.
Ask your dentist questions about the treatment they recommend and why. Be sure to understand your treatment options and check to see if there are more affordable alternatives to the initial recommendation.
3. Understand your insurance.
Reading through your insurance benefits information is certainly not highly entertaining, but it can be super beneficial for you to get affordable care. You need to know what kind of dental insurance you have (a Health Maintenance Organization or a Preferred Provider Organization). It’s important to know what is covered and how often including pre-existing conditions, X-rays and what your deductibles, co-pays, and annual maximums are. It’s also important to know if you must go to a particular network of dentists to receive full benefits. Be sure to check with your employer to see if they offer a health savings account or flexible spending account. These can be very helpful because they allow you to set aside pre-tax funds for dental expenses.
If you have any questions about what is covered or are getting a treatment that might not be, call your insurance provider before the appointment. Another option for affordable dental care is to have your dental office submit a pre-treatment estimate so you know before treatment what you will be responsible for paying. And don’t forget about emergency care. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but if you do, it’s good to know where to go and what will be covered before you need emergency care.
4. Participate in a dental plan.
Dental practices want to help you get the care you need and the most affordable way. That’s why many offices 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.
5. Find a dentist with good financing.
A dental office that offers good financing with flexible payment plans and low-interest rates is good even for people with insurance because certain procedures won’t be covered at 100%. 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.
At Castle 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 1-800-TO-SMILE (1-800-867-6453) to make an appointment.