Low Cost Dental Care - various options
Everyone would like low cost dental care, but few think it's available. Let me suggest various options that make dental care affordable, more affordable, or just seemingly more affordable for most people.
First off, let me set aside the idea of dental insurance. Sure, that can make your dental care less costly, but it also makes the cost of dental care recurring - even if you don't need dental care. What I want to focus on is lowering the costs, looking at value instead of simply cost, and saving for what ought to be infrequent dental care.
My first suggestion is to use a dental college. This will be mostly for preventive care and cleanings, but it's easy to do, and it's very reasonably priced. What might be a $85 cleaning at the dentist office is about $20 at the dental college. You're trading your time in the chair (as a guinea pig) for a reduction in the cost of service.
is a great way to get good service, but it takes time, so you're trading more time to save more money. For those of us with more money than time, it's not a good option, but then most of us have more time than money, so check around to find out about what options might be available to you. This is a good way to achieve low cost dental care, especially for exams, cleanings and X-rays.
A health clinic in your area might also be a viable option for basic low cost dental care services. They might not perform traditional fillings, but they most likely will perform extractions. For my time and money, I try to keep my teeth rather than extract them, but sometimes you don't have a choice.
Another approach is to call around to find a dentist who has a sliding scale of fees so you're afforded lower costs based on your income level. Use the phone book and call around, or use the Internet to search for it in your community. Chances are good that most dentist offices that don't have a sliding scale fee structure will know of the ones that do.
The best option is home dental care. It's the best option because it's well within your ability, and the tools for good dental care are reasonably priced and effective. My personal choices are a Sonicare toothbrush, a Waterpik oral irrigator, dental floss, a mechanical dental pick and a traditional toothbrush.
The Sonicare gets your teeth clean without excessive erosion at the gun line. The Waterpik is excellent at freeing up food particles that no toothbrush will ever get to. Dental floss and a mechanical pick are excellent for addressing impacted food particles and keeping plaque from developing, and a traditional toothbrush allows you to better choose the "action" that your teeth and gums are getting.
I do a bit of traveling by car, so my approach to low cost dental care has me with a mechanical pick, traditional toothbrush and a roll of dental floss in the car. It's not uncommon to see lightly used dental floss hanging over the back of my rear view mirror. That might seem a bit disgusting, but it's a price I'm willing to pay to avoid more costly dental work, and what I'm suggesting here is the low cost dental care comes as an indirect result of simple preventive measures.
Another suggestion with respect to low cost dental care is to consider the value of the work that needs to be done. This doesn't lower the actual cost, but it can help you lower the emotional cost of spending your money. Quite often we get blinded by the expense and ignore the whole idea of true value. Let's say you have a crown put in place for $1,000. Now, to be sure, that's a lot of money for a single tooth, but consider that you get the look and feel of your own tooth. You get to keep your own tooth! That's high value in my book, but also consider what you didn't have to expend to keep your tooth:
- years in dental school
- licensing as a dentist
When you figure it out, in just a couple of hours in the dentist's chair, you benefited from many tens of thousands of dollars in education, perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars in equipment and facilities, and many years of practice - all for the price of ten 100 dollar bills. Now, I consider that to be true value
Another way to look at it is to ask yourself, "How long would it take me (even with a friend helping) to do my own dental work?" The answer is as easy as asking the same type of question regarding surgery on your bowels. For my money, I'm happy to pay $1,000 to a qualified dentist who can help me save my tooth and prevent further tooth decay that can poison me. It's a good value in my mind.
My last suggestion to obtain low cost dental care is to save for it. Again, this only lowers the emotional cost, but I think that counts for something. Many people use an "envelope system" or some other approach to separate savings set aside for various categories of expenses. If that helps you set aside money for such needs, then by all means do it. With the money out-of-sight, and out-of-reach for daily expenses, it makes spending it much easier when you come upon such rare needs as major dental work.
I know that having saved for something like this doesn't really qualify as a lower cost, but I think it takes the sting out of it, and that's why you're searching for low cost dental care in the first place. I am reminded of when I graduated college and joined the work force, there was an opportunity to buy a place of my own. I hesitated, until I realized that saving up my money, since I was a kid cutting grass and shoveling snow in the neighborhood, was what this housing opportunity was all about. So I invested the money gladly to provide myself with a place to live.
So, set money aside (preferrably in a bank account) so you can handle such needs without the financial and emotional pain that one might otherwise associate with such expenditures. It doesn't provide you with low cost dental care, but it can help make spending money "you didn't know you had" much less painful than that high-speed water-cooled drill you're about to experience.
Done with Low Cost Dental Care, take me back to Frugal Living Tips