Money Matters: Managing dental expenses

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 11/28/2012 9:56 am

It can be worse than a tooth-ache. Dental work can also hurt your bank account.

That's especially the case considering 50 million Americans don't have health insurance to cover it. Those financial challenges have many people dodging the dentist.

"With people losing their jobs and having less dental coverage or you lose your dental insurance, people just stop coming to the dentist."

Dr. Jason White, a Lubbock Dentist, said he understands a trip to the dentist can take a bite out of a budget.

"I have lots of patients that are working two jobs, or don't have a job, and dental costs can get really expensive," White said.   

High prices are a natural consequence of an inflated bottom line.

"Every year our lab bills are more expensive, our supplies are more expensive, so all of this is passed down to you the consumer," White said.

However, White said there are things patients can do.

"The most important thing to decrease in the cost of your dental treatment is one, your diet," White said.  

Taking preventative measures like that can reduce budget blows down the road.

"We're learning in the last decade that the health of your mouth and the bacteria in your mouth has a direct effect on your systemic health," White said.

That’s why Dr. White advises not to ignore home care. 

"Take the two or three minutes in the morning and the night to floss and brush your teeth," White said.

When a dental bill is inevitable, seek out reduced-cost alternatives.

"There are dental discount plans that you can go to like dentalplans.com. Find dentists that are contracted with lower fee schedules," White said.

There are also options that avoid out-of-pocket fees. White said Care Credit is one choice.

"It's like healthcare dental credit card. I even use one when I go to the eye doctor or when I take my dogs to the vet," White said.  

Care Credit is a way to finance dental work.

"Right now they offer zero percent interest for several months up to 24 months I believe in some cases," White said.

Dr. White said making regular six month cleanings and checkups can help avoid a small problem exploding into an expensive dental procedure.

 

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