Any Internet discussion of frugal dentistry will mention getting your dental care at a dental school. This is great if there’s a dental school in your area. I called a dental school and asked about their program. They offer services for a low price, but not on an emergency basis. You have to be already signed up with them. Dental students do the work, closely supervised by teaching dentists.
Does your dental insurance have a new deductible each calendar year? If all you need is the annual cleaning and exam, you can save yourself a deductible in alternate years. Have an annual cleaning in early January and then again in December of the same calendar year. Then skip the next calendar year and do it again the year after that. Your cleanings will be eleven-plus months apart in the first year and thirteen or fewer months apart in the second year. You’ll pay a deductible in only one of those years.
In 2012, I got a cleaning, x-ray, and exam offer from a local dentist in my Groupon.com email. They gave a stupendous discount. After three years of skipping routine cleanings, I was glad to have a chance to confirm that my flossing and brushing routine is working well. If I had waited half a day I would have seen the same offer through MyPoints.com Deals. Then I could have gotten the same Groupon.com deal through MyPoints.com and earned eight points per dollar. Next time.
I’ve found out about many resources just by talking about things with people in general. A woman in my Sunday school told me about a local dentist who gives free care once a month, first come first served. They don’t advertise this; it’s all word of mouth.
I don’t remember who told me about the Volusia County Human Services office. They will give a voucher to have a bad tooth extracted without charge. They don’t cover any other dental work. But since an infected tooth can be fatal, it’s nice to know there’s a way to get it extracted. The dentist I asked would have charged over $300 for an extraction, including exam and x-ray.
A place to start to find resources in your area would be to call the county health department. Another good resource for any kind of human services need is 211. You can dial 211 on your phone or go to http://www.211.org online. This is a service of the United Way.
Thrifty message boards on the Internet are more and more mentioning getting dental work done in Mexico. It costs a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S.
Drugstores sell temporary repair kits to replace a lost filling on your own. The house brand is less expensive. The instructions say to see a dentist within forty-eight hours after using the kit.
Some dentists will give you a family discount. You usually have to ask, they don’t advertise it. While you’re asking, inquire about discounts for seniors, military, paying cash up front, and anything else you can think of.
Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.