Is Dental Insurance Worth It? Here Are 8 Alternatives You Need to Consider
The math doesn’t add up.
Is dental insurance worth it when it doesn’t even cover the cost of fixing one tooth? If your employer isn’t footing the bill, it might not be.
Here are eight alternatives to paying a monthly stipend for dental insurance.
1. Discount Dental Plans
Unlike dental insurance, discount dental plans provide coverage for one yearly fee of around $100. It’s like the Costco of oral health. Joining this club gets you access to quality dentists operating at a discounted rate.
You’ll be able to get routine services, like x-rays and cleanings, at a reduced cost. Even minor procedures, like root canals, and specialties like orthodontics are less expensive.
Discount dental plans may also offer a break on cosmetic dentistry. Teeth whitening, veneers, chipped tooth repair, and dental implants are considered non-essentials and aren’t covered by insurance.
There’s also a contingency for emergencies.
Find out if your dentist can give you a better rate than advertised. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount.
Many practices can shave off 10%. You might benefit from paying upfront or paying with cash. Some dentists offer payment plans for regular customers.
Explain your situation. It’s in the practice’s best interest to keep patients. If your dentist isn’t willing to work with you, shop around and find someone who is.
3. Nonprofit Dentists
See if there are any nonprofit dental clinics in your area. Committed to providing oral health care to those that need it most, these pop-up clinics host events offering free care to anyone who shows up. A team of volunteers staffs events and can see thousands of patients.
There are also free dental clinics for children of families below the poverty line. Kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch also qualify for free cleanings, fillings, and surgeries as needed.
4. Go Back to School
Did you know you can get basic dental work done at a dental school, sometimes for free? Every dentist was once a student honing his skill, and dental students need mouths to practice on.
For a fraction of the standard cost of care, you can have your teeth cleaned, sealed, and x-rayed at a school. Professionals advise students every step of the way. While it might take longer than it would at a dentist’s office, quality is ensured.
If you only need a regular cleaning, you might be able to get it done for free through a dental hygienist program. Ahead of licensing exams each year, schools offer free cleaning and x-rays to patients who meet exam criteria.
5. Leave the Country
Sometimes it’s cheaper, and more exotic, to take a dental vacation. Many countries offer top-notch dental care for much less than the US.
While it’s not worth traveling to get your teeth cleaned, if you need extensive reconstructive work done, you can save a lot of money. Full mouth reconstruction can cost $40,000 in the States, sometimes more.
Mexico and Costa Rica are close by and easy to get to. South Korea is adept at medical tourism and has similar standards to America. Hungary, Spain, Thailand, and the Philippines are also popular destinations for procedures.
This is not a decision to take lightly and requires thorough vetting on your part. Gather patient accounts and recommendations. Investigate infection-control practices and safety protocol. If something feels off, don’t go through with it.
6. Pay Out of Pocket
It’s possible that simply paying out of pocket for routine services will be cheaper than your dental insurance cost. If you’re in good health and have strong teeth, you might be able to get away with budgeting for dental visits.
The average teeth cleaning is less than $130. Fillings are around $100 per tooth. X-rays can be as little as $20 up to $250 for a full set.
7. Go Halfsies
You can cut your dental bill in half by going half as often. A yearly cleaning is sufficient for most people in good health. Bi-annual cleanings are a scientifically unsupported custom.
If you are at risk for periodontal disease, you should follow the advice of your dentist. In patients with several risk factors, more frequent cleanings have a direct correlation to tooth retention.
8. Pay with Prevention
The best way to save money on dental care is to need less of it. Take care of your teeth with healthy choices and good oral hygiene.
Protect your tooth enamel by minimizing acidic foods and carbonated drinks. Once enamel wears off, it cannot be replaced. Wait to brush your teeth for 30 minutes after drinking coffee or eating citrus.
Reduce tooth decay by avoiding sugary drinks and brushing your teeth after dessert. Sugar feeds the natural bacteria in the mouth which causes teeth-damaging acids.
Keep your alcohol use in check to prevent dry mouth. Alcohol temporarily reduces your saliva. Saliva helps rinse the mouth and keep food from sticking to your teeth and is a main factor in preventing cavities and infections.
Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Don’t skip brushing before bed. The longer plaque sits on your teeth, the better chance it has to calcify, which can only be removed by a hygienist.
If the taste of toothpaste is keeping you from brushing regularly, find one you actually like. This dental company puts an emphasis on high quality, good tasting toothpaste.
Floss daily. It’s the only way to get the space between your teeth clean. Floss sticks make it excuse-proof.
Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months. Frayed bristles can erode gums and damage tooth enamel.
Is Dental Insurance Worth It to You?
Have you been making your monthly payments while wondering, “Is dental insurance worth it?” As with many medical questions, the answer depends on the person. If you’re only seeing your dentist twice a year for healthy teeth, you could probably make do with an alternative.
Has questioning your dental insurance cost got you wondering about other insurance plans? Browse our articles for blogs on supplement packages, life insurance, and even coverage for freelancers.