Affording Dental Care for Your Entire Family

When you’re tight on money, you have to budget carefully and work hard to justify every expense to ensure you’re able to pay all of your bills on time. While going to the dentist is essential for oral and overall health, the prospect of getting your entire family in for an appointment twice a year can sound expensive — especially if you’re worried your dentist will find an oral health issue, like a cavity or two.

Some families resort to avoiding the dentist to save a little money. The truth is this will do more harm than good in the long run. We hope to help make skipping appointments unnecessary. There are several ways you can budget for and reduce the costs of your entire family’s dental appointments, making your trips to the dentist affordable and anxiety-free. Here are the main ways you can ensure your family’s oral healthcare needs are met without blasting through your budget.

Buy dental insurance.

While it might sound like just another bill on the surface, dental insurance doesn’t cost much and it more than pays for itself. People who have dental insurance often have no copay for preventive treatments, such as hygiene appointments and fluoride treatments. They also end up paying less for necessary treatments, like dental fillings. As a result, dental insurance can save you a few hundred dollars per appointment. That adds up quickly when you have a whole family who needs to get in two appointments each year!

You can shop around for dental insurance that fits your family’s needs at the best price, giving you some flexibility in what you’ll end up paying each month. In the end, though, it’s much more budget-friendly to pay for dental insurance than it is to avoid it.

Practice great oral hygiene at home.

A simple way to reduce dental costs is to simply practice great oral hygiene at home. You should make sure everyone in your family is brushing their teeth for two minutes twice a day. They should also be flossing and using mouthwash at least once a day. Flossing is often looked at as time-consuming or unnecessary, but it’s the best way to prevent gum disease. Not only is gum disease the leading cause of tooth loss in America, it can also have far-reaching effects on the health of your entire body. If you’re having difficulty with gingivitis or a similar oral health concern, you can choose a mouthwash or toothpaste specifically targeted to that need to give your oral hygiene an extra boost.

Visit your dentist regularly.

One of the best things you can do to keep dental costs down is simply to make sure your entire family visits the dentist every six months. Practicing great oral hygiene at home is incredibly important, but dentists can remove hardened tartar from your teeth that you can’t clean at home. They are also trained to spot potential issues early. Spotting a cavity early can mean the difference between a minor filling and a root canal, which is more expensive, invasive, and requires you to take more time off of work. In the long run, your bill will be higher if you skip your regular hygiene appointments.

Additionally, since oral bacteria can be spread between people, your oral health affects your entire family’s oral health. Because of this, it’s wise to ensure everyone gets to their appointments regularly; don’t take care of your kids’ oral hygiene then skip your own.

Take full advantage of each dental appointment.

Make sure to write down all of the questions you’d like to ask your dentist before your appointment so you won’t forget. Asking these questions while you’re there gives you an immediate response directly from your dentist. This makes it easier for you to understand and ask any follow-up questions their answers may raise. If your dentist does find a dental issue that needs to be treated, asking questions will also ensure you know what your treatment options are. Then you can choose the best option for your health and budget.

It’s also important that you mention any concerns you have about your oral health, such as tooth sensitivity or jaw pain; while the issue may be minor, it could be something more. Knowing that you’re experiencing symptoms will help your dentist know where to look more closely and potentially get you an earlier diagnosis.

Consider using a flexible spending account to cover bigger bills.

Another option is using a flexible spending account (FSA).  It can help you afford slightly bigger dental bills without putting it on a credit card and dealing with interest. An FSA generally allows you to take a set amount of money out of your paycheck before taxes each month and put it into an account. The money can then be used for a variety of health-related bills, including prescriptions, acupuncture, or dental costs. It can be a huge help on the rare occasions you do end up incurring unexpected costs from a dental issue that needs to be treated. Plus, the money within an FSA generally needs to be spent before the end of the year, so it must be used instead of being squirreled away indefinitely.

We’ve all experienced the struggle of pinching pennies and going without a few things to live on a tight budget, but your oral health shouldn’t be one of the things you cut out to make ends meet — and it doesn’t have to be. Thankfully, if you practice proactive home care, visit your family dentist regularly, and get dental insurance, your family can stay healthy without breaking the bank.