Dental work can make a huge dent in a family's budget. Many companies offer employees medical insurance, but don't offer dental. The Huffington Post reports that Americans spent more than $108 billion at the dentist in 2011. With that kind of price tag, it's no wonder so many people put off going to the dentist. Here are seven easy ways you can save money at the dentist.
Keep Teeth Healthy
The most important thing you can do to decrease your dental expenses is to keep your teeth healthy by following a care plan. This includes the basics like brushing twice a day and flossing each night. You should also see a dentist twice a year for a deep cleaning and to catch small problems before they become big, expensive problems.
Print Out a Plan
Ask your dentist to print out a copy of your treatment plan. This will list the dental work that you need and how much it is going to cost. The information is listed item by item with a price for each one, so you can easily compare one treatment plan to another. If you need dental work beyond a regular cleaning, it makes sense to seek out a second opinion and compare the rates of each dentist.
Another reason to look at your dental plan is to see if there is anything that can be put off or deleted completely. Ask your dentist if there is any way to reduce the costs. There may be places where you can cut corners.
Ask for Discounts
Many dentists will offer discounts on their services, especially if it means keeping you as a loyal client. Here are a few of the discounts you might be able to get.
- If you are seeing a dentist for the first time, ask for a new patient discount. Be sure to find out if the discount will be applied to all services related to your first visit or only some.
- Ask for a family discount if you make appointments for your spouse and children. Dentists treating the whole family may be able to reduce their rates.
- Find out if you can get a discount for referring friends and acquaintances. Word of mouth is one way dentists find new clients, and some dentists will reward you for that.
- Ask for a discount for making an appointment at a time that is not popular. Many people want early morning or late afternoon appointments so they miss less time at work or school. There may be times during the week when your dentist's office is particularly slow. Ask if scheduling your appointment at those times could lead to discounted services.
No one wants to spend time tracking down payments or collecting on bills, and your dentist is no different. Take a look at your treatment plan and find out if your dentist will take a smaller amount in cash.
Use an FSA Account
Some employers offer an FSA, or Flexible Spending Account, where you can place money in a tax-free account to be used for medical expenses. This includes charges for dental services.
Buy a Discount Plan
If you are expecting to need a significant amount of dental work, shop for a discount plan. You can often buy a dental discount plan for about $100 each year, and the plan will cover a certain amount of your dental costs. Compare plans and check your treatment plan to decide which plan will be best for you.
Use a Dental School
You can significantly slash dental costs by getting services from a dental school. You will get treatment from a dental student who will be supervised by an instructor. The upside is a lower cost, but the downside is not having a regular dentist.
Dental care is an expensive, but necessary, part of life. Try these 7 tips to get a healthier smile for less. For more information, contact a local dental clinic, like Claremont Dental Institute.