About 18.6 percent of children aged 5-19 years and 31.6 percent of adults aged 20-44 years live with untreated dental caries. That’s not all. About 40 percent of older Americans have periodontal diseases.
Even though 77 percent of the American population (as of 2016) has dental insurance to seek treatment for these conditions, we have to worry about the 33 percent (about 74 million Americans) who have no dental coverage.
If you are among the 74 million, one of your worries is how to find affordable dental care.
Lucky for you, we’re sharing tips you can use to access dental care services without leaving your financial pockets in pain. But first off:
How Much Does Dental Care Cost?
A routine dental checkup will set you back $150 on average. Keeping in mind the recommended two dental visits annually, we’re looking at $300.
If you’re a family of 4, your annual dental care bill will hit $1,2o0. In a decade, you will spend north of $10,000.
This may not be much if you have dental coverage, but if you’re paying out of pocket, it’s a boatload of cash.
Remember, we have not factored in serious dental health issues and emergencies. If this happens to you or one of your family members, the cost will skyrocket.
So, what affordable options do you have?
Find Low Cost (of Free) Dental Clinics
When we’re low on cash we have a natural instinct to hunt for the cheapest deals in town. You should use this instinct when it comes to finding affordable dental care.
You see, as much as dentists have a primary duty to improve the dental health of their clients, they’re also in it to make a decent living. As such, prices for various dental services vary from clinic to clinic, often depending on location.
For instance, a dental clinic in a big city will charge more than a clinic in a rural community. The big city residents have greater spending power than rural residents.
Here are low cost options:
Hospital Emergency Rooms
Once every 15 seconds, at least 1 person shows up in the ER with an aching tooth.
Now, emergency rooms or departments specialize in providing emergency medicine, not oral health services. However, this is not to say providers in these settings are not equipped to handle dental problems. After all, one can have a dental emergency, right? Some have a dentist on staff.
Nonetheless, the cost of treating a dental issue in a hospital emergency room is lower than what you would pay for the same service in a specialized clinic. If there are many hospitals around you, consider visiting the one with a strong focus on the community, as it’s likely to cost less.
One important thing to note, though, is a hospital emergency room (especially one without a dentist on staff) is likely to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause of your problem. You may still need to visit a specialist provider if it’s a serious issue.
Dental School Clinics
Dental schools equip dental students with the knowledge and skills needed to treat various dental issues. The schools usually have in-house clinics where students gain real-world job experience.
If there is a dental school near you, you can access affordable dental care in its clinic. You will be attended by dental students under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
The downside of visiting a dental clinic is you’ll probably spend more time on the diagnosis chair, and even more time on a treatment plan.
In any case, what’s the hurry? If you’re not in pain and the issue is not life-threatening, the tradeoff (affordable dental care) is worth it.
Community Dental Clinics
Like community hospitals, community dental clinics are all about providing affordable dental care services to the community’s residents.
They’re usually established in rural communities, and often offer services on a sliding scale basis. This means they will adjust the cost depending on your income.
Some community dental clinics are funded by state and local governments, so they offer some services free of charge.
Dental Care Accessibility Organizations
These are typically nonprofits with a mission to help people access affordable dental care.
Dentistry From The Heart, for instance, organizes dental care events where dentists offer free services to those who can’t afford them.
Other such organizations include United Way and Mission of Mercy.
Adopt a Dental Savings Plan
Another path to receiving affordable dental care is opting for a dental savings plan.
Healthcare brands such as Aetna and Cigna offer dental savings plans that enable you to pay an annual fee. For that, you get dental care at reduced rates in various dental clinics that have signed an agreement with these brands.
Under these plans, there are no limits on the number of visits you can make to your dentist. On most procedures, you can save as much as 60 percent!
So, how do you find a dental savings plan that suits your budget?
There is no shortcut. You have to do a lot of research. Providers of these plans will list their services on their websites, but it’s your job to ensure they live up to their word.
A good way to find a reputable plan provider is to read online reviews. If a provider is excellent, there will be lots of positive reviews from satisfied customers.
Go Find Affordable Dental Care
With the information fleshed out in this article, we hope you’re now less worried. It’s possible to find cheap dental care, you just need to know where to look.
If you’re in Birmingham, AL, more good news is coming your way.
At douglewis Dentistry, we’re a family practice that’s all about providing a range of quality dental care services – from cosmetic restorations to periodontics.
To learn more, give us a visit.