Last month I discussed some ways of making dentistry more affordable and this month I want to add ideas for those who don’t have dental insurance. Again, I cannot emphasize enough the value of prevention–you save 100% of the cost of any dentistry that doesn’t need to be done because you’ve taken care of your teeth regularly. Teeth must be regularly cleaned on all four sides; that means using floss daily. If treatment is needed, get it done in a timely manner, as dental problems tend to grow in difficulty and costs with time. Avoidance is only more costly later.
We are fortunate to have two dental schools across the bay, UCSF School of Dentistry and UOP Dental School. All dental schools have clinics where dental students in their last two years treat patients under supervision of their dentist instructors at reduced costs. While students strive to do good dentistry and pass their requirements, treatment will often take longer and require more visits than in a private setting. Also, students may not be the best place for treatment of complex problems or patients that are extremely fearful.
Many dentists have financing available through outside sources. Lately finance companies have been marketing to dentists for consumer loans to patients. As incentives they may offer “teaser” rates that will keep interest costs down. Lastly, if you have a long term relationship with your dentist, ask if they will allow you to extend payment over a couple of months by putting payments on an automatic credit card deduction.
In many ways maintaining your teeth is no more expensive than maintaining an automobile, and with basic preventive care you don’t have to replace your teeth every few years like you would an automobile.