More than 6 in 10 Americans say they are living paycheck to paycheck as the rate of price increases remains stubbornly high. 

How can you prevent dental problems while saving money?

It’s no secret that a trip to the dentist can be a costly experience depending on the condition of your mouth. It makes sense that it would be, with rising costs. and unfortunately, many Americans don’t have sufficient insurance to fully cover these vital services. Americans are also paying more for health care. For instance, a trip to the dentist costs you 5.3% more this month than it did last July.

It is estimated that nearly 25% of Americans don’t even have coverage for proper dental care. Between the deductible, maximum yearly benefit not even covering one service in some cases  the out-of-pocket expense is more than they can afford.  Therefore, many people even if they have insurance are not going or getting the treatment they need.

Good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are crucial for preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease. Not only that, the issues that start in your mouth can also have repercussions that reach beyond just your teeth but throughout your entire body. If left untreated, they can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, heart attacks, strokes, and difficulties during pregnancy. Taking good care of your mouth means that you’re taking good care of your entire body.

The Average Cost of Dental Care

Even the most basic visit to the dentist can end up costing a significant amount of money. You can expect to pay between $150 and $500 for checkups, cleaning, and routine treatments. More advanced procedures that require numbing and sedation, such as filling cavities, performing root canals and extractions, and doing dental implant procedures, can cost much more into the thousands. Because of these prices, many people choose to ignore their dental issues because they have no pain and treating them just isn’t in their budget. No pain no problem right!

Unfortunately the cost of doing business for dentists has increased also, especially since covid and insurances having their hand in the cookie jar negotiating fees at deductions in some cases up to 20% of the fee the dentist actually charges has made it difficult on both ends to afford to give care and receive care. With many dentists retiring or taking pay cuts with rising costs,  new protocols and less staff.. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help decrease your dental care costs and keep you smiling.

Minimizing dental costs can be achieved through several strategies that focus on preventive care, smart financial planning, and utilizing available resources. 

Here are some tips to help you save money on dental expenses:

How can you minimize your dental care costs? 

1. Create good daily oral hygiene habits.

First and foremost, what you do at home on a daily basis as far as habits with cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth and in between morning and night on a regular basis is vital for keeping your teeth sparkling and healthy. It also goes a long way toward preventing severe conditions that would otherwise require costly procedures at the dentist. One of the best ways to minimize dental care costs is to avoid the need for them in the first place by being proactive about taking care of your teeth and gums at home. Slacking on oral hygiene and preventive maintenance is the starting point for bacteria to worm their way into your gut and bloodstream and cause health issues such as heart attacks, strokes, and more. Putting a stop to it before it starts will also help prevent emergency treatment.

 2  Eat a nutrient-rich diet.

Nutritious, whole foods are vital to ensuring that not only your teeth stay strong and healthy, but you control inflammation in the body. Vitamins A, K, D, and C, along with the minerals calcium, potassium, and magnesium, all play essential roles in ensuring that your enamel remains solid and that your mouth can fight off any infections that it may encounter. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fortified foods, and lean meats and seafood will give you everything you need for a healthy mouth, reducing the number of visits you need to make to both the dentist and your primary care provider..

  3. Balancing your pH.

Acid is the main cause that damages teeth and the reason for emergency dental visits. This damage is often the result of eating hard foods that can weaken, chip and  crack teeth, or from foods that are impacted between the teeth or under the gums. Stay away from crunching on hard candies and ice cubes as well as foods like popcorn, which can easily get stuck between the teeth or even poke directly into the gum tissue and cause inflammation and infection.

 4. Breathe Through your nose

Mouth Breathing has so many negative effects on the teeth and body. It reduces your saliva contributing to dry mouth, cavities and even contributes to gas and bloating.  Nasal breathing helps you breathe better, sleep better and digest your food better. We are lucky we have the option to breathe through our mouth if our nose is plugged, however even though we can breathe through our mouth we should not. It increases blood pressure and cortisol which leads to weight gain and lack of sleep, and affects focus and concentration.    

5. Don’t skip a checkup or cleaning.

I know we talked about not being able to afford care. 50% of American who have dental insurance do not use it. If you don’t use it you lose it. Most preventive care is covered at 100% 2 times a year. Visiting your dentist and hygienist regularly, using the benefits you are already paying for, can help keep your mouth clean, healthy, and disease-free. 

Plus, they can identify any issues before they become more serious and more expensive dental problems. If you have a healthy mouth your insurance will cover two cleaning a year. A healthy mouth according to insurance definitions  is no bleeding and gums that measure 1-3 mm. Your toothbrush and floss can only get 3 mm below the gum line. If you have not gone to the dentist in a while or have gum disease you may need 3 to 4 cleaning a year to disrupt the bacteria you can not reach. It takes 90 days for that bacteria you cannot reach to cause destruction to the bone that supports the teeth. Dental disease is silent, you may not even know you have it. 

  1. Seek treatment for problems immediately.

No pain does not equal no problem when it comes to your mouth. If you suspect that you may be suffering from a dental issue, it’s best to seek treatment earlier rather than later. Waiting until you have pain means it has developed into a more serious problem usually means you’ll have to undergo more extensive — and therefore more costly — treatment. Many people opt for just pulling a tooth because that is the most cost effective at the time. However, that choice will change your bite, the ability to chew your food which can affect your function and  your digestion. 

  1. Purchase dental health insurance.

If you do not have dental insurance and this is an option dental insurance can be an excellent investment to help cover the costs of any dental treatments, procedures, and surgeries that you may have to undergo. This can be an especially smart option for anyone who has a personal or family history of periodontal disease and can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

If your employer offers dental insurance, consider enrolling in the plan. Dental insurance can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses for routine check-ups and treatments.

Discount dental plans: If you don’t have access to dental insurance through your employer, consider joining a discount dental plan. These plans offer reduced rates for dental services at participating providers. Many dental offices offer this option. 

Research dental costs: Before undergoing any major dental procedure, get cost estimates from multiple dental providers. Prices can vary significantly, and it’s worth shopping around for the best deal.

Avoid unnecessary treatments: Seek a second opinion if a dentist recommends extensive or costly treatments that you’re not sure are necessary. Some dental issues can be managed with more conservative and budget-friendly approaches.

Take advantage of dental schools or community clinics: Dental schools offer reduced fees for dental students to gain experience and knowledge. Some communities offer low-cost or free dental clinics for those with limited financial resources. Look for such resources in your area.

Ask about payment plans: If you need extensive dental work that is beyond your budget, inquire with the dental office about payment plans or financing options to spread out the cost over time.

Health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA): If you have access to these accounts through your employer, use them to set aside pre-tax money for dental expenses. This can help you save on taxes and budget for dental care.

Talk to your insurance company, dentist, and oral health coach and create a dental budget.

No one understands your personal dental care needs better than your dentist. They can help you identify your treatment options and preventative measures you should take to achieve the best possible oral health. Talk to your dentist about your yearly dental care budget and create a plan that you and your family can afford to meet your health requirements.

Your oral care is critical — not only for the health of your teeth and mouth, but for the overall wellbeing of your entire body. Unfortunately, dental care can be very expensive with or without good insurance. With some preventative measures and a commitment to being open regarding your budget, you can save a significant amount of money and still ensure that your mouth is getting the care it deserves.

Believing in the importance of oral health to achieve optimal overall health for our entire bodies, is the goal. Creating a partnership between professional dentists, orthodontists, family physicians, myofunctional therapists, speech pathologists and other professionals will better enhance patient care.

Not only will this enhance our general knowledge of the body as a whole, but it will also help millions of people around the world gain better health and more advanced oral hygiene. 

By combining these strategies, you can help minimize dental costs and maintain good oral health without breaking the bank. Remember that prevention is key, and early intervention can save you money in the long run. 

Take control of your dental costs and keep smiling brightly. Your health is worth it!

A healthy Mouth is a healthy body and a happy healthy life.