Most people trying to save on dental costs go about it the wrong way. They look for a “deal”, which lands them in a “business dentist office” as opposed to a “doctor dentist office”. They end up spending more on dental costs.
No matter who your dentist is, you can significantly reduce your dental costs by asking 3 simple questions when a dentist recommends a procedure:
- What happens if I do nothing?
- What are the costs and risks of the dental procedure?
- Are there simpler, safer options?
It will help you avoid unnecessary dental work: the best way to reduce dental costs.
1. What happens if I do nothing?
DO NOT ASSUME THAT DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN DOING NOTHING!
Do not let your dentist assume that doing something is better than doing nothing!
For example, the most common recommendation by a dentist is a dental filling. People "know" about dental fillings so patients rarely question this recommendation.
However, you should question the recommendation of a filling as there is a HUGE variation between dentists as to when a filling should be done.
For example, dental schools teach that “incipient decay”, a shallow cavity within the enamel layer of the tooth, can be reversed with brushing and flossing and yet many dentists fix ALL cavities.
Seek to understand the nature of your “dental problem”. If you get accurate information it will help you avoid treatment of self limiting conditions such as early stages of tooth decay.
Most dentists take too many dental X-rays. A dental X-ray should be taken ONLY IF it will make a difference in what will be done or how it will be done.
The recommended dental procedure should have a CLEAR benefit to you compared to doing nothing, such as avoiding a bigger problem in the future that will cost you even more time and money.
However, just because there is a benefit to doing the recommended procedure does NOT mean you should do it because you have to weigh the benefits versus the risks of the procedure. Hence, ask the second question:
2. What are the costs and risks of the dental procedure?
There are the obvious costs such as time and money. However, you also need to know the risks involved with the procedure. There are always real and potential risks, just like there are benefits and side effects to taking a medication.
Carefully weigh the benefits of the procedure versus the costs in deciding if the procedure is right for you.
One more question before you proceed or not. You should consider ALL available options by asking:
3. Are there simpler, safer options?
Ask about ALL the options available to treat your “dental problem”.
Ultimately it is the option that has the greatest benefits and the lowest costs/ risks compared to any other procedure that is the BEST for you.
Often doing nothing has the greatest benefits and lowest costs/ risks compared to other options.
For example, nowadays the best option to replace missing teeth are dental implants. The next best option is to do NOTHING as the traditional options of a dental bridge and partial dentures promote tooth loss!
If you are missing teeth do not replace them unless it is with dental implants!
Asking the 3 questions above will give you the answer to the ultimate question:
Do I really need this dental procedure?
Which in turn will help you avoid unnecessary dental work and ultimately lower your dental costs.
If your dentist is unwilling or unable to help you understand the answers to the above 3 questions or talks over your head, find a new dentist!
If the dentist feels offended by these questions find a new dentist.
There is another strategy to save on dental costs that works even better:
Choose the Best Dentist: a Dentist that you do not need.
Knowing how to find the best dentist (no matter where you live) and asking these 3 questions will significantly lower your dental costs: 25-50% for most people. It is a much better strategy in finding affordable dental care than any other strategy such as:
In the best interest of your health and well-being,
Dr. Joanne Baldos and Dr. Adam Szymczak