Going to the dentist has been a classic childhood fear, but adults understand the real fear can be the cost.
Without insurance, dental cleanings can run a few hundred dollars and major dental procedures can even get into the thousands.
Even with insurance, it can get pricy. What do you do when you can’t afford this expensive part of healthcare?
We have a few tips to help you get the dental care you need on a budget.
Getting Quality Dental Care on a Budget
The dentist can be an expensive ordeal. When you are already on an extreme budget or even living paycheck to paycheck, the idea of spending another $100 or more on caring for your teeth seems impossible.
Avoiding the dentist can be a risk to your health but you may have better options for affordable dental care.
Why Avoiding the Dentist is Dangerous
Whether it is that classic fear of the dentist or your budget, you may have been avoiding going to the dentist altogether.
This may seem like a no-brainer money saver but the truth is far from it. Even the most simple of dentist appointments can prevent massive problems throughout your body.
What could have been a simple catch during cleaning instead becomes a several thousand dollar surgery down the road. Problems like these are not only common but could lead to other major health issues and damage.
A simple dental cleaning has more benefits than making your smile brighter.
Dental Centers with Cheap Dental Care
There are a few places where you can find quality dental care without massive expenses. These places aren’t cutting corners. Instead, they provide a service at, for various reasons, discounts to those that need it.
1. Dental Schools
There are dental schools across the country. Each of these schools has students that need hands-on experience to become a professional. These schools then offer a discounted clinic to give students the chance for that experience.
Now, getting dental work by an inexperienced student sounds like a dangerous proposition. Why would you trust someone like that to handle your teeth?
Each appointment has a licensed professional to supervise it. That professional not only ensures you get the best care but ensures the student understands and learns from the situation.
While these appointments may take longer due to a teacher going over each step, that also means that your appointment is by the book. This, combined with heavy discounts, can make this a very attractive option.
2. Public Dental Clinics
There are a number of tax-payer funded dental clinics across the country. These clinics are often run by non-profit organizations and offer the usual host of dental care.
Finding these clinics can be a bit tricky, though the website of the Oral Health America non-profit group works as a jumping off point.
3. Charity-Based Free Dental Clinics
Even further, some charities or faith groups run dental clinics. These often provide high discounts or even free appointments to their patients without sacrificing many available dental services.
Finding a dental clinic that offers these can be a system of trial and error. As well, many only offer their services to very specific groups, such as children, seniors, or the homeless.
4. Private Dentist Practices
The last center may be a longshot and depends on the dental providers in question to offer this particular service.
Some dentists who own their own practice can choose who to charge and for how much. Some may be willing to barter with services you may be able to provide while others may offer free services to the least fortunate in the community.
Finding out whether a private practice will do this is tricky. Asking for handouts from a professional can be rude.
Explaining your situation to the dentist beforehand and asking for any special payment plans can help ease yourself into the conversation.
Getting Some Insurance
You can cut down or even waive a lot of dentist costs with quality insurance. The issue becomes that qualifying for good insurance can be difficult.
As well, the monthly insurance premiums can be quite devastating to those already on a budget.
There are a few exceptions.
For those in unemployment or who work very little, the government offers a medical insurance program called Medicaid. There is also a similar program for children called the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP.
Both of these programs can provide basic medical insurance that can help or even waive many medical costs.
Medicaid charges no premiums in most states. They even provide full dental care to children up to age 19 and partial coverage to adults.
Qualifying for Medicaid in your state may end up being a complicated process. If you are able to apply and receive Medicaid in your state, it may solve a lot of your dental care issues.
2. Part-Time Employment Benefits
A lot of employers offer small medical insurance. Dental and vision are often the first things offered and even part-time employees can benefit from this.
Of course, this requires employment to be a viable option. If you cannot find a job or have issues that prevent employment, then this option becomes much harder.
Avoid the More Expensive Procedures
One trick that you might be able to use to avoid expensive procedures is the use of a second opinion. If your dentist suggests a very expensive procedure, go to a second dentist and see if they recommend it as well.
There is a decent chance that your dentist may only recommend a procedure because there is any amount of improvement that can come from it.
That improvement could be very minor and not worth several thousand dollars for the procedure.
This trick, which can be helpful, also runs into the same problem as avoiding the dentist altogether. The procedure, though expensive and minor, could also save you a lot of issues in the long haul. Talk to your dentist about all of these concerns.
A Proud Smile
Your dental health is important. While having a well-maintained and beautiful smile is nice, the real benefit comes from the overall health you get from proper dental care.
These tips and tricks will allow even the most budget conscious to find a way to keep up with their oral health. The worst you can do, now, is to avoid the issue altogether and create even worse problems.