Teeth. We’re lucky to have them, but they sure can be a pain–sometimes literally. Even more annoying is that dental health care is rarely covered by a general health care plan. And with very low caps on coverage each year, even those who DO have dental insurance may end up paying, well, through the teeth. How can the average person keep their dental care costs low?
Don’t Skip Dental Care
A great way to not spend money on something is to just not get it, right? Ask anyone who owns a car how well that works out when they haven’t changed the oil or tires for a few years. 23% of people are already planning to skip the dentist this year. Many of them are doing it to try to save money on dental care. And at least some of them will end up with a dental condition that would have been cheaper to fix early or prevent entirely.
Brush Twice a Day with a Fluoride Toothpaste
This one is straight off the ADA recommendations–and you’ve probably heard it from your dental hygienist plenty. Get a little calendar with stickers. Do whatever you need to do to remember that second brush especially. We know it’s the one you usually forget.
Look at Getting Dental Benefits
Dental insurance often has a very low cap on how much it will cover for dental care in a year (often around $1,500 before you’re on your own). Avibra’s Dental Benefits are just $1 a week and there’s no spending limit–you’ll continue to qualify for your 20-50% discounts. The best part? Your dependents under 18 are covered at no extra cost.
Floss Just One Tooth
Flossing does about 40% of the work in keeping your teeth clean, and it helps prevent cavities ($$) and gum disease ($$$). This sounds like weird advice, but it really can work! Most people have a hard time just starting to do a task. It’s called ‘task initiation.’ Lower the bar to getting started by saying, “All I need to do is floss this one tooth and then I can be done. Maybe some days you really will end up quitting. We’re betting that most days you finish, though.
Mouth Guards as Dental Care
Play any contact sports? Fixing a chipped tooth can cost upwards of $300. You can pick up a basic mouth guard for $10. You do the math on that one.
Watch What You Chew
You don’t need to spend your whole life panicking about what you eat, but there are some pretty common teeth chipping foods. Unpopped popcorn kernels is a big one as you bite down expecting a fluffy piece. Another one is ice. (Side note: If you chew tons of ice, consider checking in with a doctor about possible anemia as this is a somewhat common sign!)
Consider How Your Diet Impacts Your Dental Health
Lots of sugary beverages and foods are the common culprits here. You already knew that sugar isn’t the best for you, so add saving money on dental care to the pile of reasons to limit it.
Think Carefully About Cosmetic Dental Care
Thinking about getting a little work done to change the way your teeth look? If you’re looking at celebrities or influencers with perfect pearly whites and find yourself wanting the same, just consider the long term costs. Teeth whitening tends to need repeat trips to keep the same results over time, and veneers don’t last forever.
Use the Darn Retainer
Did you get a retainer to wear after your braces were take off or you had certain dental work done? Maybe a night guard to prevent teeth grinding at night? Wearing them will help prevent you from having to go back to your dentist for more expensive care.
We know, we might lose some people here. Smokers often assume that the consequences of their smoking habits will be covered under health insurance–and many are. But enamel erosion, regular gum disease and similar issues are all likely going to be on you, and that $1,500 annual limit from your dental insurance is going to look mighty small.