Most people would agree: Dental treatment can be expensive.
While the cost of dental treatment can be high, there are some proven strategies that can help you manage the costs, or even save money in the long run.
1. Phasing treatment
Sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the sticker shock of receiving a dental treatment estimate. A lengthy treatment plan or even a couple of procedures can add up. (Did you know that many treatment plans can be broken down or “phased” over time?) Even individual procedures can sometimes be broken down into a couple of steps. This can help ease the upfront cost of treatment and make it more manageable with smaller payments.
An example would be replacing a missing tooth with an implant. We’ve all heard implants are expensive. The treatment, however, is actually multiple phases over a few months, beginning with the removal of the tooth and allowing it to heal, the placement of the implant itself, then (months later) the final replacement of the tooth on the implant.
Other procedures such as braces, dentures, crowns and root canals, or multiple fillings, can be strategically phased and breakdown the costs over time.
It’s important to discuss this with your dentist and be upfront if your finances are a concern. Remember, your dentist wants to help you solve your issues and restore your oral health. In most cases, your dentist will be able to work with you to prioritize your treatment. The most important or the dental work that needs immediate attention will be done first in order to prevent further damage, pain or loss of a tooth. Work that isn’t as severe, in some cases, can be done at a later time.
It’s important to work with your dentist and communicate to make sure the plan works for you.
2. Know your benefits
There are many different types of insurance with varying coverage. Knowing your benefits will ensure that you’ll maximize the use of your plan, and avoid surprises. Most dental offices will help you understand your plan, but it’s important to know these key points:
- When do my benefits expire and renew? Most plans have a renewal date. For example, if your plan runs from January through December, your benefits will reset at the end of the year. You can use this info to plan your treatment schedule
- What does it cover? This can get a bit complicated. Most plans are broken down between basic (fillings, root canals, extractions and cleanings) and major (crowns, bridges and implants). Orthodontic coverage might or might not be included for adults.
- Benefits don’t dictate your treatment! It’s important to think of your insurance as a credit, like a gift card towards your dental treatment. Just because something is “covered” or falls within the cost of your plan, doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for you! In fact, making decisions with this mindset can cost you more in the long run!
- If you’re retiring or your benefits are coming to an end for a different reason, it’s important to advise your office as soon as possible to both maximize your benefits and minimize unwanted surprises when you’re no longer covered.
Always ask your dentist and the dental team if you need help understanding your benefits. You can work with them to make the most of your insurance plan.
3. Prevention saves you money
The most cost-effective dental work is no work at all. Dentists are about saving your teeth and optimizing your oral health. Nothing is healthier than your natural teeth. Prevention starts with your oral hygiene routine, simple brushing and flossing.
We’re often asked about electric toothbrushes. If an electric toothbrush motivates you to brush more regularly or you have issues with handling a manual toothbrush, then it’s a great idea. A manual toothbrush is great, too — if properly used.
A regularly scheduled dental hygiene appointment and check-up can be a great way to both maintain and improve your gums while keeping an eye out for problems early on. Tooth decay might cost hundreds of dollars to remove and restore, but left to grow, it can cost a whole lot more. Even worse, you can suddenly have a toothache or even lose the tooth. You don’t want to find yourself in the dental chair, in pain, and having to make a costly decision, or even lose a tooth.
Being a “regular” at the dental office is a great way to save money, and stay out of pain!