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Anyone here think going to the dentist is fun?
I don’t think there is anyone who actually enjoys going to the dentist. But I think that makes sense. We’ve all been there.
When you are set up to go to the dentist, there is a lot that goes through your brain. “Is it going to hurt?” “Will I have a cavity and need to come back and get my tooth drilled?” “Is my insurance going to cover all of the work I need to get done?”
And then who can forget when you actually get there!
The feeling of cold metal in your mouth. Your jaw getting tired from holding it open so much. Waiting for the feeling to come back in your mouth after novocaine. Not fun!
Regular dentist visits, along with dental hygiene, are necessary and important to keeping your mouth healthy and clean. But the benefit of regular mouth maintenance can impact the amount of money in your wallet in some significant ways.
Much like portion control, if you take care of your teeth and keep up with regular maintenance, you are more likely to spend less in the long run on your dental needs. In fact, not only is preventative care the cheapest form of dental care, preventative maintenance is also usually covered 100% by an insurance plan, further reducing your costs.
My manager at work was kind enough to allow me to share his story.
When he was just out of college, he had a cavity that he decided not to take care of. About five years after college, he finally went to the dentist and had the cavity filled. However, by not taking care of it in the first place, the filled cavity continue to worsen. Four years after getting his cavity filled, it was decided he needed a root canal.
Now, it’s been several years since having the root canal, and the procedure is not holding up. He recently had the root canal removed, and is schedule to have the dentist put a dental implant in to fill the hole.
He is kicking himself now because he realizes that if he would have gotten the cavity filled years ago, he wouldn’t be going through what he is going through now.
In fact, he was nice enough to share his total out of pocket costs for each procedure he had done, including the upcoming implant.
Cavity filling – $20
Root Canal – $900
Implant – $2500
In total, he is spending $3400 out of pocket for this one tooth. In case you didn’t catch that, I said…
Out of Pocket!
Something that would have cost him $20 to get it taken care of just after college has now cost well over $3,000. I completely understand why he regrets his decision on that.
Oh, in case you were wondering, this is with dental insurance.
Now, dental insurance does take some of the sting out of dental cost, but not even close to all of it, as we’ve seen with my manager’s example.
Most dental insurance that I’ve seen or have gotten quotes for have covered 100% of preventative care, such as cleanings and x-rays; however, major procedures such as implants are only covered up to about 50%. I’ve read that you can get plans that cover up to 90% of the cost of major care, but I’ve never been able to get a quote for one. Root canals fall under “Basic Care” in most insurances. For my plan, this is covered up to 80%.
Add the fact that actually having dental insurance is not as common as having healthcare, and it compounds the issue. Even though a cleaning can only be $100 at a dentist, it isn’t something that people want to pay for twice (or even once) a year since it comes out of their own pocket. People will sometimes go years without a dental visit if they do not have insurance.
Now, imagine trying to pay for all of the procedures my manager went through without insurance!
Low Benefit Year Maximums
With dental insurance there tends to be a fairly low maximum to the dollar amount they will pay per person. This seems to be the norm rather than the exception, sadly.
Since my manager and I work at the same company (obviously), I know his dental insurance is the same as mine. The maximum dollar amount we can obtain in one year is $1,500. So with that knowledge, we can figure out that his implant this year is going to be $4,000. Now, our insurance will cover 50% of that up to $1,500. This leads to him paying $2,500 out of pocket.
And again, that’s just for one procedure!
There is a possibility that you could need more than one procedure in a year. If one of them reaches your maximum. You are stuck paying for everyone out of pocket until the next year rolls around.
According to NerdWallet, depending on where you go, the average cost of a root canal can be anywhere from $300 to $2,500 in total. At 80%, out of pocket would be $400 for a $2,000 root canal. If your insurance only covers half, even for a $1500 root canal, your out of pocket costs would still be $750. That’s a good chunk of change!
Note: there’s some other great tips in that NerdWallet article as well.
So What Can You Do?
Regular dental visits help promote good health in general. If your mouth is clean, it is less likely that you will get sick with colds and flu and such. That’s just one more way having good dental hygiene can save you money!
Look at it this way. If one root canal can cost you upwards of $2,500 on the high end, imagine if you had to have a second or third. What if not taking care of your teeth leads to the need for dentures down the line?
Now, I realize that regular maintenance on most things (including your mouth) is never fun. But I guarantee you that it will save you money in the long run.
I also realize that genetics and age play a fairly large role in oral hygiene. To me, that’s not an excuse to not do what you can because “it’s going to happen anyway.” It should motivate you to stay on point with your oral care.
Let’s go over some things that you can do to help promote a healthy mouth and save you some money.
Get Regular Cleanings
Remember, most dental insurance plans cover basic preventative maintenance at or close to 100%. Most dentists recommend getting cleanings every 6 months. Most insurance companies also allow twice a year cleanings. Going to the dentist and getting a professional cleaning will greatly reduce your chances of getting a cavity.
Get a Good Toothbrush
Another thing you can do is spend a little more money on a good toothbrush. At a recent visit to my dentist, they told me that it would be good for me to get an electric toothbrush since my main mouth problem is plaque build up. I use it almost every night now and my mouth feels almost as clean as when I come out of the dentist office! I love it!
Here is the one I have.
Brush Your Teeth Before Bed
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that every one of us are brushing our teeth in the morning after we wake up or eat breakfast. After all, who want
Dentists advise, however, that it is even more important to brush your teeth before you go to bed. Why? Simple. All of the food and bacteria that you’ve accumulated throughout the day will be able to fester and grow while you’re sleeping.
Also, generally speaking, your mouth will become dry at night from hanging open (unless you sleep really pretty like my wife does). This dryness promotes the growth of bacteria.
Do yourself a favor. Brush your teeth before bed.
Now this is something I really struggle with. I do not like flossing. At. All.
Are you in the same boat? Out of all the things dentists recommend we do, I feel like this is the one that most of us flat out ignore. Even a great electric toothbrush can’t get every last piece of food between your teeth.
Flossing will really get in the area between your teeth and gums and clean it up really nice.
If you don’t like flossing because you thinks it’s gross. You can get something like these to help out.
Brush Your Tongue
For the longest time, I wouldn’t even touch my tongue when brushing my teeth. Then, one of those handy trips to the dentist told me otherwise.
Your tongue is a bacteria magnet!
Brush your tongue as far back as you can (without gagging) and say goodbye to all of that smelly bacteria.
Use Alcohol-Free Mouthwash Regularly
Many dentists agree that a mouthwash with alcohol in it can actually do more harm then good by killing off good bacteria. Some studies have even found links to oral cancer and sores in the mouth from alcohol-based mouthwash.
The solution? Alcohol-free mouthwash! Better safe than sorry right?
Alcohol-free mouthwash is just as effective as its alcohol-based counterpart, however, it will not leave you with that painful burning sensation.
Mouthwash is a great part of oral hygiene because it can easily be carried around and utilized pretty much anywhere that has a bathroom (read: almost everywhere). It’s simple to take out in the bathroom, let it do its thing, and then slips easily back into a bag, purse or pocket.
In order to get the full effect, it’s important to gargle with mouthwash as well. This gets the bacteria killing properties into the back of your throat to further freshen up your mouth. If you are not good with gargling, feel free to try on some water first. That way you don’t have to worry about accidentally swallowing the mouthwash.
I don’t recommend worrying about getting a mouthwash that has whitening properties. I tried using one for a while and didn’t really notice a difference. Feel free to try if you want, but just wanted you to be aware.
A little maintenance can go a long way in most things. This is especially true of dental hygiene. Taking care of your teeth can literally save you thousands of dollars.
Not only is it a great move for your health, it’s a great move for your finances.
How about you? Do you have any tips for keeping your mouth clean? Have you had a bad experience at the dentist that ended up costing you a lot more than you were anticipating?
Add your voice in the comments below!
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