Let’s face it, dentistry is not cheap.   While you’re likely to spend far more on cars than you do on your teeth and mouth during your lifetime, it takes more than pocket change to get your teeth fixed.  So how can you save money at the dentist?

First and most importantly, an ounce of prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure.   Here’s how to prevent the two most common diseases in the world (tooth decay and gum disease). The bottom line is this:

  • Don’t feed the sugar bugs between meals!
  • Floss daily, especially at the gumline

When you come in to see the dentist, consider spending a little on preventive measures to save a lot in the long run. Examples include:-

  • sealants to seal off the grooves where sugar bugs hide and most decay occurs
  • fluoride treatments to harden the teeth- gels and foam are good; varnish is better
  • splints (aka- nightguards) to prevent “occlusal disease”, which occurs when clenching and grinding your teeth at night causing cracked/broken teeth, worn/failed dental restorations, sensitive teeth and TMJ problems

If you already have lots of decay or gum disease, remember the four goals of dentistry, which are listed somewhat in order of priority:

  1. Remove/manage dental disease- tooth decay, gum disease, occlusal disease
  2. Replace what’s missing
  3. Preserve what’s left
  4. Cosmetic dentistry

Make sure to treat dental disease early.  All dental disease is progressive!   The longer you wait, the worse (and more expensive) it gets.  Here’s what can happen when you wait to fix your teeth. When it comes to fixing your teeth, you will usually have options.  Weigh pros/cons of each restorative option.  You can sometimes save money if you don’t mind a little silver showing, or if you choose a removable denture versus crowns or implants.

Will going to a dentist with lower fees save you money?  Well… maybe.  If two dentists recommend the same treatment, then of course the one with lower fees will cost less, at least initially.  But sometimes dentists with lower fees recommend more treatment.   Or sometimes the quality of work is not as good, so the work needs to be redone sooner, costing more money in the long run.   How do you know if a dentist may be treatment planning aggressively?  If you are ever unsure of recommended treatment, get a second opinion.   A dental exam costs far less than dental treatment which may not be necessary.  How do you know if the dentist does good work?  Ask friends who’ve been seeing them for a long time.  Or check out the testimonials on their website.

Dentistry is not cheap.  But there are many things you can do to keep your dental costs down, while still maintaining healthy teeth and gums.  As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Dr. Steve

Roseville Family Dentist

 


Dr. Steven Lee graduated from the UCLA School of Dentistry in 1985. He was a dental examiner on the National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey (NHANES III). And he is the leader of the American River Study Club. Dr. Lee has been practicing general dentistry in Roseville CA for the last 18 years.