Your teeth are designed to last a lifetime, and with proper care, they will. However, those regular trips to the dentist can put quite a hole in your budget. Careful planning and a bit of research can result in significant savings, all without sacrificing your beautiful smile.
Brush, Floss and Rinse
One of the best ways to save on expensive dental work is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth after each meal. Rinsing your mouth after you brush can remove bacteria from your entire mouth, plus give you fresh breath. If you work outside the home, carry a toothbrush with you so that you can brush after lunch or after you’ve eaten a gooey pastry. If you’re worried about feeling awkward, don’t. You may be surprised to find that one or more of your colleagues brushes at work.
Seek Discount Plans
If you can’t afford full-fledged dental insurance, look for a dental discount plan. Dental discount plans charge monthly or annual fees – in exchange, members receive discounted rates from dentists that cooperate with the discount plan. Discounts range from 30 to 50 percent. If you decide to purchase a discount plan, read the fine print, and make sure that it covers dentists in your area, including your personal dentist.
Try Dental Colleges
If you live in an area with a dental college nearby, you can receive excellent care at a substantial discount – often as much as fifty percent. A major advantage of dental colleges is that the students are highly trained and closely supervised. If you don’t know where to find a dental school, the American Dental Association provides listings of dental schools in your area.
Establish a Health Savings Account
Establishing a health savings account won’t reduce the cost of dental care immediately. The benefits come in the form of tax deductions and savings. If you’re under age 65 and have an insurance policy with a high deductible, you’re eligible to deposit up to $3,000 per year for an individual HSA and up to $6,000 for a family HSA.
If your employer offers HSAs you can deposit pretax funds into the account. If you establish an HSA on your own, you can deduct your deposits on your income taxes. Any money you spend on qualified medical expenses is tax free and any money you don’t spend during a year rolls over to the following year.
Search for Free Resources
If your budget is really stretched, you may be able to qualify for free dental care offered by organizations in your community. Contact your state health department or search online through the Free Dental Work website. You can also ask your dentist if he or she is aware of local programs designed to help low-income households afford dental care.
Victoria contributed this guest post on behalf of the Glebe Dental Group. Victoria is a freelance writer who writes for various online dental publications on the subject of oral health.