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Jun 182013
 
 June 18, 2013  Posted by  Features, Health & Beauty, Hot Deals
dental dentist

Are you afraid to go to the dentist? Your fears may not be based on mouth pain, but on a potential pain in the budget. Dentist visits can be expensive. Here are a few ways to lower the cost:

Bite down on the truth. Talk to your dentist before you need extensive work done. Let him or her know the extent of your coverage (or lack of it) or the facts about fixed income or unemployment. Your dentist may have information on programs or funds that can be activated if necessary. Ask if there is a discount available for loyal customers. Be prepared to look for another dentist if your current one doesn’t want to budge on his fees.

Paper beats plastic. Research average prices of dental work, and offer to pay cash at the time of services. Offering cash payment up front can often save the office time and money through billing or credit card charges. Insurance companies negotiate their fees with dentist’s offices, so ask the office if it would be willing to charge the amount it typically accepts from insurance companies.

Does your dentist offer layaway? Ask your healthcare office if it can establish a revolving payment plan with no interest, at an amount you can afford. And never, ever miss a payment. Don’t let them — or yourself — down.

Paybacks with payroll. Talk to your employer about the Direct Reimbursement program that allows patients to choose their own dental care provider and pay for services. The program then reimburses the patient for out-of-pocket expenses. Of course, there is a cap on the amount available. Use your negotiating skills to bring the charge down to a reasonable amount, pay in cash, then submit receipts for reimbursement.

See you next year. If you have dental coverage, find out when the coverage year begins and ends. If you need to have major work done, ask your dentist if he can start the work during the current coverage year, and finish it in the following year. For instance, if your coverage year ends on July 31, schedule the first part of work to begin during July and finish the work in August. The office can then bill a portion of the services in each year, staying within coverage limits in your dental plan and taking less from your own pocket. Be warned, though: Some dental plans have lifetime limits.

Avoid the dentist altogether. Brush at least twice a day and more if possible. Floss every time you brush. Schedule replacement times for your toothbrushes; worn out brushes do little to clean between teeth. A friend replaces hers every time she finishes a tube of toothpaste, and after she has gone through a bout of cold or flu.

Spare the lemonade. Citrus fruits as well as sugary drinks can damage teeth; controlling your diet can help preserve dental well-being. When choosing a smile-heatlhy diet, look for alkaline-based and high-antioxidant foods.

Soap in your mouth. Many toothpastes include detergents that wear at the enamel of your teeth. Mouthwashes with alcohol in their list of ingredients can dehydrate the gums and allow bacteria to enter around the tooth. Make your own toothpaste, or look for detergent-free toothpastes and mouthwashes with no alcohol.

The American Dental Association offers more tips to keep your mouth healthy and happy.

Image by adamr of freedigitalphotos.net. 

Rosie Wolf Williams

Rosie Wolf Williams was born into a thrifty family. One of five children, Rosie learned at an early age to save without being miserly. Having fun is an important part of life, too! Her parents use to say, "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without." The mom of two adult sons, Rosie has spent her life saving, spending wisely. She owns her own fixer-upper (paid in full) and creates multiple streams of income, from part-time seasonal jobs to cashing in cans for the deposit. Now single, she's always looking for ways to live within her means and, as she says, "beat the man!" A freelance writer for nearly 20 years, Rosie has written for Woman's Day, U.S.A. Weekend, Boys' Life, AARP the Magazine, and Creative Living.

2 comments on “8 ways to save money at the dentist’s office

  1. Abigail on said:

    If you have no insurance, you should consider a dental discount program. They run around $7-15 a month and many are through companies you’ve heard of, like Aetna. That said, some dentists offer their own discount plan, so it’s best to check that out before.

    Also, I read a piece by a dentist who recommends a quarterly cleaning if you can manage it. It helps keep stuff from building up as much. Might be worth the cost if your insurance only covers two a year. (Also, of course, Groupon vouchers help.)

  2. Teresa Mears on said:

    My experience with a dental discount program was not good. The dentists in it seemed a little sleazy and recommended work that wasn’t really needed. There may be good dentists who participate in those programs, but you have to look for them.

    I’ve found that having a dentist I trust who isn’t too expensive works best. I just pay cash. and he gives me a discount if I don’t have insurance.

    A new study recently suggested that some people can go less often (though some should go more often): http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/rethinking-the-twice-yearly-dentist-visit/?_r=0