How to save money on dental care

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How to save money on dental care
Image Credit: Flickr/Herry Lawford
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As we move closer to open enrollment, it’s time to give some thought to your dental plan.

Some 64% of Americans have dental insurance, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. But that means more than a third of us don’t have coverage.

Read more: These 5 household items will help you whiten your smile

What to do if you can’t afford dental insurance

According to the NADP, the average premium in a group dental plan for 2014 (the latest year for which information is available) was $19-$32 each month or $228-$384 annually.

If you get dental coverage through work or through a group plan like AARP, Medicaid, Tricare (for military families) and the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, consider yourself lucky.

When money gets tight, dental care is often one of the first places that people will skimp. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some ways you can save on dental care if you’re paying out of pocket.

Consider medical tourism for big jobs

If you need some really expensive surgery, it can often be cheaper to go out of the country for the job. Hungary and Costa Rica, in particular, are hot spots for cheap reconstructive dental procedures. The savings can be extraordinary—up to 75%. If you are considering going overseas for a procedure, check first with the Joint Commission International to see which facilities are fully accredited.

Go to a chain dentist practice for lower costs

Dentistry is undergoing changes that will bring both positives and challenges to the marketplace for years to come. One trend that looks set to shape the future is the rise of chain dentistry practices. Great Expression Dental Centers is just one example of this. This chain has about 240 offices nationwide and employees 2,300 people.

What does a chain dentist office mean to you as a consumer? In theory, if you go to a chain, there would be efficiencies in overhead, what are called economies of scale. But the problem is what’s the care like? Who’s accountable? Do you see the same person each time or does nobody know your dental history? So the advantage of these chains is lower prices. But sometimes you can’t focus on price alone. This is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.

Check out the daily deal sites for discounts

People are turning to daily deal sites for select medical procedures in the absence of health care coverage. Groupon, LivingSocial and their various imitators are one possible new source for finding deals on a variety of dental, eye care and medical care services. But note this well: This is not a replacement for insurance.

If you’re historically gone for teeth cleanings twice a year, and now you can’t recall the last one because of your fixed income, this may be something to consider. If you can score a deal, take it!

How do you know if you will get quality care from a particular doctor on a daily deal site? Check sites like Yelp.com and Kudzu.com that post general consumer reviews, and ones that are dedicated to medical reviews exclusively like RateMDs.com.

Consider donating your mouth to science

Much like going to a beauty school for a cheap haircut, the idea here is you go to a dental school and let dental students get practice hours on your teeth—under the watchful eye of faculty members, of course! Search for either accredited dental schools or a dental hygiene program. Then give them a call and find out how to start the process.

Read more: Add this secret ingredient to your tea for whiter teeth

Faith-based organizations paying for your health care

Source: Faith-based organizations paying for your health care by Clark on Rumble

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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