Affording dental visits is a common concern for many Americans, especially those without adequate dental insurance. But you should not let the price of basic dental care keep you from getting yearly cleanings and having necessary restorative work completed. Below are seven minor lifestyle changes that will allow you to save more money for an annual exam by a dentist and a cleaning while reducing the amount of restorative treatment you will need.
- Cut Caffeine. Caffeinated beverages can stain your teeth, and the sweeteners that most people add to coffee and tea, as well as the sugar in soda, can cause cavities. Not only will you avoid higher rates of restorative and cosmetic procedures if you reduce your caffeine intake, but the money you save on a daily cup of coffee could easily pay for a yearly preventative visit.
- Drink Tap Water. Most major U.S. cities either add fluoride to their tap water, or have naturally occurring fluoride. Fluoride strengthens your teeth and gums, reducing the amount of professional dental care you may need. At the same time, tap water is less expensive than bottled water, allowing you to save money for dental emergencies.
- Delay Getting Pregnant. Pregnancy is a major health expense, and for some women it requires less pressing medical matters to be put on hold. However, pregnancy has been shown to cause dental problems in women, such as more cavities and bleeding gums. At the same time, dentists find it difficult to treat women in their first or third trimester of pregnancy, so if you do get cavities, you might have to wait to get them filled until after you give birth. If you can, you should wait until you have perfect dental health before getting pregnant to reduce the amount of oral damage you will suffer while pregnant.
- Fix Cavities As Soon As Possible. The average cost to fill a cavity ranges from $100-$200, whereas the cost of a root canal can be more than $1500, depending on the complexity of the treatment. Although finding the money for minor restorative procedures can be difficult, it is much more affordable than waiting until you are in pain and need a more complex procedure.
- Stop Smoking. Smoking can cause staining and gum disease, while costing you quite a bit of money. Stop smoking and put the money you save from cigarettes into a dental fund and you might have enough money to get some elective procedures such as mild straightening or teeth whitening.
- Skip the Electric Toothbrush. You may think an electric toothbrush will be worth its hefty price tag because it will save you money on your dental bill. However, many people who purchase electric toothbrushes fail to brush thoroughly and skip flossing, which can lead to more dental visits. Plus, you have to replace the toothbrush heads as often as you would replace a regular toothbrush, but they are generally much more expensive.
- Purchase High Quality Floss. One dental care item you should spend a bit more on is your floss. You should look for a floss that has a high cotton content, as it is better at cleaning between your teeth without damaging your gums. Contrary to popular belief, flossing is not about protecting your teeth, but about protecting your gums from plaque that may build up on your teeth.
If you are struggling to afford adequate dental care, the best thing you can do is start being vigilant about your daily oral care routine. Brushing, flossing, reducing harmful foods and drinks, and increasing your water intake are the easiest ways to save money on your overall dental bill. Besides that, you can shop around and find a dentist you trust that you can afford and ask about payment plans to make sure you get the care you need.