It only takes one bad tooth to derail months of careful planning. You’re suddenly faced with a large dental bill and need to come up with the money, or a plan, as soon as possible. What are your options?
Visiting the ER for toothache
To begin, if you have a dental emergency (uncontrollable pain, uncontrollable bleeding, significant swelling on your gums or around your mouth, high fever, or dizziness), go to your local dentist or the emergency room. Immediately.
The ER is not a good place to get dental care, and it will cost you far more than a dentist would, but if it’s your only option, go now and figure out how you’ll pay later.
You have some options if you do not have an active oral infection. However, you should seek treatment as soon as possible because the longer you wait, the more extensive the dental damage and the higher the cost of care.
If You Have Dental Insurance Already
If you’ve been covered for more than six months, you might be in luck. If this is the case, and assuming that the tooth was not bothering you prior to getting the insurance, and you are under your annual spending limit, your insurance company will most likely cover a portion of your dental bill.
If you don’t have dental insurance, don’t bother getting it right now because coverage for anything other than the most basic procedures won’t kick in for weeks.
If you can’t afford the care you require, talk to your dentist about it. You might be able to come up with a payment plan. Alternatively, your dentist may be able to perform the most critical part of your dental treatment right away and postpone the rest until you can save a little money. You’ll never know unless you ask.
However, none of the preceding options will actually reduce the cost of your dental care. You’ll need something called a dental savings plan for that.
What exactly is a Dental Savings Plan?
Dental savings plans, also known as “dental discount plans,” are a cost-effective and flexible alternative to traditional dental insurance.
To join a dental savings plan, you must pay an annual fee, which is typically around $125 per year, as opposed to $300 for dental insurance. As a member, you will have immediate access to a network of dentists who will offer you discounts ranging from 10% to 60% off the normal cost of their services.
A dental savings plan provides discounts on almost all of your dental care, including preventive check-ups and cleanings, basic care such as fillings and root canals, and restorative care to repair or replace damaged or missing teeth.
You can also save money on procedures like orthodontics (braces) and prosthodontics (which includes dental implants), as well as cosmetic treatments like tooth whitening and overlays that dental insurance typically does not cover.
Many dental savings plans include savings on eye care (and lenses, glasses/sunglasses), prescription medications, chiropractic treatment, fitness and wellness options, and other healthcare services at no additional cost.
How Do Dental Savings Plans Function?
Are you wondering why any dentist would gladly give you a substantial discount on your dental care? Partly because it is less difficult than dealing with insurance.
Because you pay the dentist directly at the time of treatment, the dentist does not have to worry about your insurance denying the claim, waiting for reimbursements, negotiating approvals before beginning treatment, filing claims, or dealing with any of the other hassles associated with dental insurance.
Furthermore, dental savings plans make it much easier for more people to afford dental care, which pleases dentists.
What is the most effective dental savings plan?
This is determined by your financial situation, as well as your dental care requirements and preferences.
If you already have a dentist, you should ask him or her which dental savings plan you should join.
Alternatively, you can go to DentalPlans.com and use the “Find a Plan” search tool. The tool allows you to see which plans your local dentists participate in. The same tool can be used to compare how much money you can save with various plans.
Check all of the details while you’re reviewing the plans. Find out what happens if you are dissatisfied with the plan after purchasing it. Also, consider how easily you can switch plans if your dental needs change.
Dental savings plans are ideal for dealing with dental emergencies because they can be used within 24-72 hours of joining. They are also an excellent way to reduce your dental care costs if you have exceeded your annual limit on your dental insurance, or as a supplement to basic dental insurance plans.
What Is the Difference Between Dental Savings Plans and Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance is fantastic at making preventive dental care affordable. Most dental insurance plans include two free check-ups and cleanings per year, as well as a set of basic (bitewing) x-rays.
That may not seem like much, but it is a wonderful thing. Regular preventive dental care is the most effective way to keep your teeth and gums healthy for the rest of your life. Dental insurance is intended to strongly encourage you to seek preventive care.
However, if you do have a dental health problem, dental insurance may disappoint you. To begin, dental insurance has a low annual spending limit; it only covers you up to $1,000-$1,500 per year, which is roughly the cost of one root canal and a crown. Once you reach that threshold, you must pay for your dental care out of pocket for the remainder of the year.
You also have to wait for your benefits to kick in for expensive treatments like tooth restorations – and who wants to go months without a tooth? Furthermore, cosmetic treatments that improve the appearance of your smile are typically not covered by dental insurance.
In comparison, you can use your dental savings plan as often as you need to – members receive discounts on dental care all year, and you can begin using it as soon as your plan becomes active.
Even if you have current dental health issues or dental work in progress, a dental savings plan will provide you with the same discounts. Pre-existing conditions are not covered by dental insurance.
And no background or credit checks are required before you can join a dental savings plan.
Make Dental Savings Plans in Advance
Dental problems have a negative impact on your overall health as well as your smile and confidence. A sick tooth cannot be ignored and hoped to heal. Dental savings plans are a practical way to get the dental care you require without breaking the bank.