We’re often asked: How do I find affordable dental care? Let’s face it, dentistry is an expensive service. There’s a lot of fancy equipment involved, a lot of years of training, and a lot of overhead to deliver that care. And so, people are often concerned about the cost of it, and they should be. Especially in the times that we live in, where there’s high inflation and other considerations.
So, how do you find affordable dental care? And what are some strategies to make that work?
Use the maximum amount allowed on your dental plan
First of all, if you have some type of dental insurance or dental benefit, that’s certainly to your advantage. You will really want to make sure you use it, because the annual maximum on that plan doesn’t turn over at the end of the year. It just goes back to zero. So, if you have a $1,500 benefit, it’s not going to carry over to the next year. If you use up the $1,500, you can use up another $1,500 the next year as well, but you’ll only ever have $1,500 in a year.
So, that’s an important consideration, and you should at least use it for preventive care, because prevention is always your best medicine. It’s always your least expensive alternative. If you have cleanings covered at 80, often 90 percent or 100 percent, then using that benefit to keep yourself healthy makes a lot of sense.
Consider a dental membership plan
Second, if you don’t have that, you may want to consider a dental membership plan. I’ve talked about those before in my videos, but a dental membership plan is a subscription plan for dental care. It works really well. It can help you really budget for dental care and spread the cost of care out. Basically, the way it works is you might pay a monthly fee to the dental membership plan that’s offered through the dental office, maybe it’s $50 a month. And for $50 a month you get a package of services which may include your cleanings, exams, and X-rays twice a year, a free emergency exam per year, maybe 10 percent off other services that you may need. So, if you need a crown, you can get 10 percent off that through the year.
They tend to be really good value for people that are going to show up and do their preventive care visits twice a year. So, that would be something to really look for. Dental membership plans are newer and they aren’t offered by all offices, but you can ask a dental office if that’s a possibility. So those are obviously two ways that can help with affordable care.
Put away some money every month
Now, the other option that you have is just what I call escrow or save money like you do for the taxes on your house. Maybe you take $30 to $50 a month and you just put it into a separate account and you save that towards dental care and then that gives you the ability to go in and pay for your cleanings even if it’s once a year. If you can have an exam, cleanings, and X-rays, and pay $250 to $300, you may only need to save like $25 a month through the year to be able to do that. That really can help you avoid much more costly care.
Check the fair price of dental treatments in your area
Now, there are some other resources that you can look at online that can give you an idea of dental costs in your area. You can look those up. There’s also fairhealthconsumer.org. This is a great site to go in and put your zip code in and then put in a code or the name of a service, like professional cleaning, adult cleaning, child cleaning, and see what’s considered a fair fee for your area. Then you know what you should be paying and that can just ensure that you’re getting the most value for your dollar.
These are just a few things to consider that might be helpful in planning for dental care. Again, if you plan for prevention, it’s usually manageable for many people, if you have benefits or even if you don’t have benefits with some of these ideas like membership plans.
If you need a dentist and you need to get in and work on that prevention, then give us a call at Express Dentist. We have a network of providers throughout the country and we can help you get connected with one who’s going to work for you and your budget. Take care of yourself take care of your oral health. All the best!
About the author
Dr. Greg Grillo
Dr. Greg Grillo DDS studied at the University of Washington where he received a bachelors degree with Honors and later attended dental school on the same campus. Following school Dr. Greg served in the United States Navy as a dental officer. During this time he received advanced training in specialty areas of dentistry while also treating families of members of the military.
As well as sharing valuable information on dentistry and oral health, Dr. Greg remains a practicing dentist to this day. He works with families in the Okanogan Valley where he lives with his wife and three children.