Dental Health

No Dental Insurance? Here’s How To Save On the Care You Need

Reluctant to visit the dentist because you don’t have dental insurance to cover the expense? Great news: There are easy ways to save on everything from cleaning to crowns. Here are four ways to cut costs, so you can get the dental care you need.

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Pay 50 percent less for cleanings and X-rays.

You’ve probably heard about dental schools that offer fillings and other procedures by students for less than a private practice. But what if you prefer an experienced dentist for your tooth repair? You can still save on preventive care by visiting a school that trains dental hygienists! Working under an expert supervisor, students offer deep cleanings, X-rays, gum exams, and fluoride treatments for 50 percent less on average, translating into about $45 for a cleaning with a full set of mouth X-rays. Then you simply take your X-rays and gum records to your regular dentist for the rest of your visit. To find a school in your area, type “dental hygiene school” into Bing or Google, and you’ll get a list, along with where they’re located on a map.

Buy dental tools for 80 percent less.

If your dentist asks you to use a powered toothbrush or water flosser, it’s because these special tools reach into tight spaces to remove bacteria, reducing your risk of tooth and gum problems. But if you’ve put off buying them because of their high prices, great news: The American Dental Association (ADA) has given their “Seal of Acceptance” to some low-cost options that work just as well at protecting your mouth as higher-priced ADA-approved tools. For example, you can find the battery-powered Arm & Hammer Spinbrush PRO+ for $ 8.97 at Amazon, which is a whopping 80 percent less than the Philips Sonicare Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush. And the battery-powered Waterpik Cordless Waterflosser is sold at Amazon for $31.49, which is 65 percent less than the Philips Sonicare Airfloss Ultra. To find even more options, visit ADA.org.

Spend hundreds less on procedures.

The price of fillings, extractions, crowns, periodontal work, and other procedures varies by hundreds of dollars from practice to practice. So how can you know if you’re getting the lowest price when paying in cash? First, look up the procedure at FairHealthConsumer. org. You’ll get the average cost for your area. Then call around to providers to ask their going rate. You’ll know right away if their fee is high, average, or lower than average, as well as how it compares to other providers near you, making it easy to save the most money.

Save 70 percent with this plan.

Looking into private dental insurance? The average plan costs $360 per year. That covers 100 percent of preventive care (like cleanings and X-rays), 80 percent of routine care (like fillings), and 50 percent of major services (like crowns). It has an annual cap of $1,500, and the rest comes out of your pocket. But coverage for major procedures doesn’t kick in for six months to a year after purchase, so if you need extensive work right away (like dentures or implants), try a dental savings plan. It costs $50 to $200 per year to join, gives you a 10 percent to 70 percent discount at any of the plan’s in-network providers, and kicks in immediately. You can compare dental insurance and dental plan options at DentalPlans.com.

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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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