Nobody in my family likes to go to the doctor. Aside from the discomfort our kids go through (due to the sickness, and the medical tests they usually need to get), there’s the financial stress my Frugal Hubby and I need to go through.
This is doubly true if that doctor happens to be a dentist. Our kids seem to have a particular aversion to dentists. No offense intended to dentists, of course! Two of my best friends are dentists, but even they know that going to the dentist is stressful.
There are lots of ways to make going to the dentist less stressful, but this article will focus on lessening the financial burden of dental treatment. If you’ve been looking for ways to save on dental care (and, really, who hasn’t?), read on! I’ll be sharing my top, Frugal Family-approved methods to save on dental treatments.
An Ounce of Prevention
You know the old saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the context of saving on dental expenses, it means that small efforts to prevent tooth damage and maintain oral health are better than having to pay big money for treatment later on.
So before I show you how to save money on dental work, I need to tell you about perhaps the best method of all: prevention. And there are a few things you can do to minimize the chances of needing dental care later on. They are:
Brush Your Teeth, but Not Too Much
This might sound counterintuitive, but brushing too much could actually do more harm than good! When you or your kids brush too often (or with too much pressure) you wear down the teeth’s natural enamel. Doing so could also damage your gums. If you want to know more about the harmful effects of over-brushing, read this article.
I try to brush my teeth three times a day, but if I need to clean my teeth between those times, I floss instead of brush. Flossing doesn’t harm the surface of your teeth, and it is essential to optimum gum health and fighting bad breath. (The food stuck between your teeth can really cause some bad odors.)
Use a Non-Alcohol Based Mouthwash
Here’s another counterintuitive tip. Many mouthwash brands contain alcohol as a means of killing germs. At first glance, this doesn’t seem so bad. Germs are bad. Alcohol kills germs. So what’s the problem? The problem is alcohol actually dries up your mouth. Our mouths need saliva to wash away germs and bacteria. Plus, alcohol has the potential to damage your delicate gums. Try to look for alcohol-free mouthwashes instead.
Get Enough Calcium and Nutrients
Your teeth may feel bone-hard and solid, but they still need proper and adequate nutrients like the rest of your body. We’ve been taught from an early age that teeth and bones need calcium to stay healthy. But make sure you and your family get enough phosphorus, and vitamins C and D.
Get a Dental Plan
Okay, even with all the preventative measures in place, you might still need treatment later on. Before that happens, I suggest you get a dental plan. A dental plan is just that – an insurance plan that specifically covers dental treatments. I know we already have lots of other bills to pay, but getting a dental plan will be totally worth it. The Frugal Husband had to get his wisdom teeth extracted (ouch!) and we were able to save almost 60% using our Careington Care 500 Series plan.
Get a Second Opinion
Getting dental treatment isn’t exactly like shopping for a car, but if you could look elsewhere for a better deal, why not? A few years back, the Frugal Hubby and I started to have doubts about our regular dentist. He wasn’t doing anything wrong – I just want to get that out of the way – but we weren’t sure if he was the best option for us either. So we got a second opinion for a treatment I was then having. I’m glad we did. The next dentist we found charged lower rates and was pretty flexible with his billings.
Stick to Just One Dentist
When you find a dentist who happens to be “the one,” stay with them. My parents and grandparents used to talk about family doctors, and I think that concept has fallen on the wayside recently. But we decided to stick to the dentist I mentioned in the previous item. Now, he’s our family dentist. He takes care of me, my husband, and our two kids. Because of the familiarity (and extra business he gets), he can give us more personalized service and, yes, even discounts from time to time.
And remember when I mentioned our kids disliked going to the dentist? Well, they still do, but since they’ve been going to the same dentist since they were babies, it isn’t so bad as if they went to a totally new dentist each time they needed treatment. They also love getting candy (sugar-free, of course) treats from their dentist for being well-behaved!
If Possible, Go to a General Practitioner
General practitioners – also called general dentists – dent to charge less than specialists in the field. If you or your family don’t need any specialized care or treatment, going to a general dentist could save you a lot of money. And don’t hesitate to go to a general dentist first. If you end up needing specialized treatment, they will be the first to let you know.
Specialists – like orthodontists, endodontists, and oral pathologists – all take special courses. And they’re definitely worth the money you’ll have to pay them. But unless you really need their attention, go with a general dentist instead.
Get the Appropriate Credit Card
I know I’m an advocate of paying in cash whenever possible – I’ve written blog posts about the benefits of paying in cash over credit. But credit cards are good to have when medical emergencies happen. In this case, it’s best to get a credit card that works specifically for medical treatment. In our case, I got a CareCredit card, which has an interest-free payment plan.