Six Ways to Lower Your Annual Dental Costs
Inflation is up so let’s bring your expenses down
At a time when Americans are feeling the crushing effects of inflation on their wallets, some are wondering how to control their dental costs without delaying a visit to the dentist. Thankfully, there are several ways to lower your expenses without skimping on dental care. In this article, we'll show six ways. This article already assumes you are taking good care of your teeth. It goes without saying that the best way to save money on dental care is to avoids habits that lead to cavities and gum problems.
Give Your Insurance Situation a Review
If you already have dental insurance, get dental insurance quotes from competing plans in the region and see if changing dental plans can lower your premium without sacrificing the breadth of your dental coverage. If you're uninsured, see if any of the plans we listed in the cheapest dental plans in the US are available in your area and match your needs. If insurance isn't an option given your circumstances, see our sections below "Options for the Uninsured" and "Charitable Dental Care."
Check to see if your employer offers dental benefits. You will likely have to wait for an annual enrollment period to join if they're offered but employee benefits often have the advantage of group rates as well as employer subsidies. If you are retired and enrolled in Medicare, you are likely able to get dental coverage as part of a Medicare Advantage plan.
Consider Alternatives to Insurance
Dental discount cards are not insurance but they can provide savings of 20 percent to 60 percent compared to list prices on dental services. Dental discount programs are very inexpensive (some under $10 a month) and they do not have limits on how often you can receive care in a year. However, dental discount cards do have restrictive dental networks so you need to confirm that they include a dentist working in your area.
Consider a Second Opinion When Facing Major Care
This is recommendation is not clear cut. In theory, you might spend more money by paying for a second opinion from a different dentist regarding major care advised by your existing dentist. However, a second opinion may determine that you need less extensive care or the care could be provided at a lower cost by a different dentist. Second opinions regarding major dental work is not an insult regarding your dentist's competence. It is the right of every patient who wishes to make an informed decision about his or her oral health. Moreover, an undercover dental study published in the magazine Reader's Digest 50 dentists treating the exact same patient had recommended treatment costs ranging from $460 to $29,850.
Even if you do not want a second opinion, you can still call different dentists to get their price for the dentistry you have been recommended. It always pays to shop around.
Options for the Uninsured
If you are uninsured and need immediate dental care, you can ask your dentist if he or she will provide a discount on dental services if you pay in cash. This can be a good deal for a dentist as well as a patient. First, the dentist doesn't pay a fee for a credit care transaction. Second, the dentist doesn't have to wait for his bill to be paid by an insurance company.
Charitable Dental Care
Low-income individuals may be eligible for programs where dental care is provided for free or at a sliding scale based on an individual's resources. If you are interested in finding programs available in your state, click on your state's name on our page listing links to each state's best-selling dental insurance plans and benefit information. Once you are on your state's page, scroll to the bottom of the page where we list dental and oral health resources. Another option available to those with low-incomes are Medicaid programs. To see if dental benefits are covered for adults in your state, see the government's Medicaid page.
Even if your income is too high to qualify for charitable dental care, dental schools routinely provide reduced cost dental care provided by students. Dental students are supervised by experienced teachers who ensure the care provided meets professional standards. The American Dental Association (ADA) provides an online resource listing every accredited dental school in the nation.
If you need more information on the type of costs a dental plan may charge (such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance), see our discussion of dental insurance costs. If you just want to compare dental plan prices in your area, visit our dental insurance quotes page.