Medical, Saving Money

Visiting The Dentist – Daily Tip

save money at the dentistOver half of Americans go to the dentist once every six months according to the American Dental Association and many view the “go to the dentist twice a year” mantra as written in stone. This mantra, however, originates from a comic book written over 150 years ago titled The Toothache – a time when dental hygiene and care was not even close to today’s standards. So the question is do you really need to visit your dentist that often for check-ups? According to a report at Smart Money, you may not:

A six-month checkup means everybody has the same risk for disease, and that doesn’t make very much sense,” says Douglas Benn, oral and maxillofacial radiologist and professor emeritus at the University of Florida. “If you look at the typical middle-class population, the majority are not at high risk for lots of decay and gum disease; they probably don’t need to be seen every six months.” A number of studies support Benn’s view, finding no appreciable benefit from biannual visits for all patients.

If you have full dental insurance that already pays for visits to the dentist every six months, then it makes sense to continue to get your twice a year check-up. If you have regular dental problems, it also makes sense to continue to go at least every six months. If, however, you get glowing marks every time you see the dentist and take wonderful care of your teeth and gums on your own, then it makes sense to at least discuss with your dentist how often you need to come in for a check-up. This is especially true if you have a large dental deductible, co-pay or don’t have any dental insurance at all (only 55% of Americans do have dental insurance).

Be honest with your dentist and explain the situation that you are paying a lot of the money for treatment and check-ups out of your own pocket. If you have a high risk factor for dental disease and need to see the dentist every six months, they will let you know and you should follow their advice. Trying to save money by not getting regular check-ups will mean much more money in dental work down the road. If you are a low risk candidate for dental disease, however, you may be surprised that your dentist says coming in every 9 months or every year for a check-up is acceptable.

Another benefit of discussing this with your dentist is even if you do have to continue the current six month check-up, you may receive a discount over the regular priced treatments. Many dentists are more than happy to offer a discount of 10% or more to patients that pay for their dental care up-front so the dentist doesn’t have to deal with an insurance company. Many also offer lower rates to those paying for care out of their own pocket. It doesn’t hurt to ask and you may find that you don’t need to spend as much as you have been at the dentist.

11 thoughts on “Visiting The Dentist – Daily Tip

  1. I saw the SmartMoney article, but disagree that twice annual routine dental visits are not necessary. Remember how when you were a kid the dentist would have you brush your teeth, then coat your teeth with the icky orange stuff that would show where plaque still remained? Most people don’t spend more than a minute or so brushing their teeth, and it can be difficult to do a thorough job.

    I’ve never had even a wisdom tooth pulled, but if money were no object, i’d see the dentist for a cleaning 3x a year.

  2. Money *is* an object with me, yet I’m on a 3-month return (yes, that’s 4x a year!).

    I agree that one-size-fits-all probably doesn’t when it comes to the dentist. But it works both ways: if you lost the gene pool lottery when it comes to gum disease, think about upping your visits. In the long run, it can save you a lot more money on gum surgery…not to mention your teeth!

  3. With 5 children and no dental insurance the cost of exams/xrays/flouride treatments/sealants 2 times per year had gone to over $1500. I found a nearby dental hygenist school and we now go there for cleanings and xrays. The school is wonderful. the exams take a little longer. But the cost $15 per child and $25 per adult for the same care cannot be beat. Our dentist still sees us for real dental needs and he understands we must do what our budget allows.

  4. For the last 8 months I’m at the dentist’s every three weeks redoing amalgam fillings crazy Hungarian and Russian dental pickaxmen put in.

    My last big procedure involved pulling out 5 teeth. My last x-ray showed a needle and a spiral tool left inside a molar.

    I will pay any money to my dentist, no questions asked – all becase otherwise I will be consumed by neverending hellish pain.

  5. I too am on the 3-4 visits a year plan now. It stinks, but I don’t really want to get gum surgery either. I drink waaaaay too much soda to not be going at least 2-3 times a year.

  6. I think it is worth it to go twice year to get the teeth cleaned really well and get that ok. Preventive medicine is well worth it. We do have dental insurance that covers the visits.

  7. I am on free dental plan as pensioner here in Australia but the waiting list is very long, over 2 years.

    I found that cleaning my teeth with battery tooth brush helped as I never had any need for any filling this time only just check up and clean & polish. I am cover in my health cover to go to regular dentists but cost between what’s paid and dentist fees is to high.

  8. Ummm…., biannual visits to the dentist?? Guess I have been lucky in the tooth lottery. You may not believe this, but I haven’t been to a dentist in about 18 years. I brush well once daily & occaisionally floss or swish some mouthwash around & my teeth/gums are just fine. No dental insurance & no pain–no problems!
    Really didn’t plan to not go to the dentist, but it was a matter of not having the extra cash back then & having gotten through a year without a checkup & then thinking that everything was ok, so I let it go another year & then another, etc. & now 18 years have gone by & still all is well. I figure that if I have any problems in the future all the money I have saved over the years of not having to pay for insurance/copays will be more than enough to cover any problems.

  9. Well, like a previous commentator, I, too, have won in the gene pool. I haven’t been to the dentist in almost 10 years and have had no problems. I brush twice a day, floss and frequently use fluoride mouthwash. I am thinking of checking in with the dentist this month to see where my teeth are at now.

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