See your Dentist Regularly. Seeing your dentist twice a year (up to 4 times a year if you are diagnosed with gum disease) can save you money, time, and the potential for discomfort. The enamel of our teeth is the hardest substance in the human body. This is a mixed blessing, because most cavities are painless and we are often unaware of a problem until it is toolate. A small cavity that progresses to the nerve and starts to cause pain will often require a root canal, post and crown. The cost of theses procedures is about 8-10 times the cost of a filling.
Brush and Floss frequently. This is something we dentists call home care. The work you do at home can greatly reduce the amount of treatment (and expense) you will require from your dentist. I suggest you brush at least three times a day, after eating and before bed. Brush for about 2-3 minutes, using the techniques your dental hygienist has recommended (if you are not sure about the best way to brush, just ask at your next visit). I also suggest you floss once a day, before you brush. For those who are especially cavity prove, use a fluoride containing mouthwash in addition to the fluoridated toothpaste that everyone should use.
Use Your Dental Insurance. Many patients have dental insurance and should try to maximize what their coverage pays to reduce out of pocket expenses. Dental insurance rarely pays for all services provided by your dentist, but it can be a big help. To find out what your insurance pays ahead of time, you can have your dental office staff send out a predetermination or call the insurance company to see what and how much your insurance covers of proposed treatment. You should also try to use all of your insurance each year if you need a substantial amount of treatment, because any remaining insurance coverage “left on the table” does not carry over to the following year.
Ask for Alternative Treatment Plans. There are often several different ways to treat a dental condition. Each option has both advantages and disadvantages, and different costs. The replacement of a missing tooth is a good example. Permanent tooth replacement with fixed bridge or implant will cost substantially more than a removable partial denture. Always ask your dentist to explain all treatment decisions and their costs ahead of time so you can make an informed decision.
Get a Second Opinion. Different dentists charge different fees and have different philosophies of treatment. Some dentists believe that they should present the “most ideal treatment” to every patient, even though what is ideal for one patient may not be for someone else. That is why it is important for dentists to present all treatment options, including the risks, benefits and costs of each option. If your dentist is reluctant to provide treatment alternatives, consider getting a second opinion. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what treatment you want and what you can afford.