Don't Grit Your Teeth Over Dental Care
Options abound for taking care of dental needs on a budget
You only get one set of teeth, so your mom and your dentist want you to take care of them.
But good dental care can be costly - especially if you have lousy dental insurance coverage, or no coverage at all. How do you maintain good oral hygiene without selling teeth to finance dental care?
- CareCredit is a financing option offering low monthly payment options for dental services. This personal line of credit can be used for surgical or cosmetic procedures, and as long as you pay the balance off within the promotional period (ranges from six to 24 months), you won’t pay any interest.
- Montgomery County Community College’s Dental Hygiene Clinic is open to everyone, and offers a full range of preventive services, including cleaning, X-rays, fluoride and sealant treatments and tissue exams. The fee for an exam and cleaning, plus X-rays (if necessary) is just $15 for adults and children. Services are performed by students, but are supervised by licensed dentists and dental hygiene faculty. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 215-641-6483.
- Negotiate with your dentist to space out wallet-walloping procedures, or perform them in phases, giving you time to save up for the costs. You may also be able to negotiate a discount by paying cash up front, saving him credit card processing fees and billing hassles. If all else fails, discuss a payment plan with the dentist, in which you will receive treatment, then make regular payments until the balance is paid in full.
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Avoid expensive problems in the long run by taking good care of your chompers in the short term. Brush and floss regularly, and see your dentist every six months for a cleaning and exam. Your doc will be on the lookout for future problems that could lead to costly – and often painful - fixes, like root canal, down the road.
- If you don’t have access to dental insurance coverage, consider purchasing a dental discount plan, where you’ll pay a flat annual fee, in exchange for discounted care from participating dentists. Before choosing a dental plan, do your research. The National Association for Dental Plans maintains a website where you can search and compare member directories. To find the plan that’s best for you, and to make sure you get the most out of coverage, check out Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a Dental Plan.
- Use your Flexible Spending Account. If your employer offers an FSA program, you’re allowed to contribute pre-tax dollars from your paycheck into an account you can use to pay for medical and dental needs.