An estimated 74 million Americans don’t have dental insurance. If you’re one of them, no doubt you feel anxious about how you’re going to pay for a dental emergency. Or perhaps you already have a tooth that needs to be fixed, but you aren’t sure how you can pay for dental care.
There are some options if you’re willing to do a bit of research. Here are some tips on affording the dental care you need even if you don’t have insurance.
Visit a Local Dental School
You can usually receive discounted dental care at a local dental school. Dental schools welcome patients so that their students can receive hands-on training. If you have concerns about being treated by someone who isn’t an actual dentist yet, rest assured all services are closely supervised by a licensed dentist who is overseeing the students.
The only downfall to visiting a dental school for care is that the treatment may take a bit longer because students are still learning techniques. However, it can be a great way to receive dental care for less.
Visit a Free Public Dental Clinic
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a community where free dental clinics become available a few times a year, take advantage of the opportunity. You may have to wait a few hours to be seen by a participating dentist, but it can be worth it to be able to smile again. Free public dental clinics can often provide fillings, extractions, cleanings, and sometimes root canals.
While these events usually take place in a large indoor space, a mobile dental clinic usually sets up its services in a particular neighborhood. Either one should provide free or low-cost dental care.
Choose a Dentist That Offers An In-House Plan
More dentists today are offering in-house dental membership plans for their patients to help them save money on services. Dentists are discovering that offering these plans increases patient loyalty and encourages them to visit the dentist more regularly.
These membership plans do require that you pay a monthly membership fee to take advantage of the discounts. You will need to determine if it’s worth spending the money based on your individual needs and the amount of work you need done.
Even if your dentist doesn’t offer a plan, they should be willing to accept a payment plan instead of requiring that you pay your bill all at once. Some dentists also offer new patient specials that can give you a discount on your initial exam and x-rays.
Use Your Flexible Spending Account to Pay For Dental Care
If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA), you can set aside funds in it and then use them to pay for out-of-pocket dental services. The great thing about an FSA is that you won’t pay taxes on the money reserved for it.
Just be aware that cosmetic dentistry services are not covered by an FSA. Check with your employer to confirm what types of dental services are covered.
You Can Save Money on Dental Care
Saving money on dental care when you lack insurance may seem daunting, but you do have options. Above all, it’s a good idea to step up your at-home oral care routine to minimize or prevent problems. Floss daily, brush twice a day, and avoid eating sweet and sticky foods.
For more dental care advice, check out our latest posts in our Health Tips category.