What’s the Right Price for Dental Procedures?
Budgeting for dental care can be hard because prices are not easily available, enroll in a dental plan for cost transparency and make sure to take preventative measures for your oral health.
When it comes to healthcare costs, it’s difficult to be a smart consumer because many providers aren’t transparent about their pricing. How can you be sure that the prices and quotes of the dental procedures you are charged for are fair? One of the many benefits of dental plans is that the pricing for common dental procedures is available for your review. This makes it easy for you to compare with other providers.
How Do I Budget for Dental Care?
One of the hardest things to budget for is the unexpected. But if you put off care when you have a dental need it can often lead to more costly procedures later. Since most dental insurance plans only fully cover preventative services, you will likely have out-of-pocket expenses for dental services such as root canals and crowns. Plus, most dental insurance plans have an annual cap for what they will pay. If you have exceeded that cap or you need an extensive dental treatment that puts you over the cap for the year, those costs might not be in your budget.
Healthy teeth cost you less. An important strategy to keep your dental care costs low is to be sure you are taking your oral health and preventative dental care seriously. If you have a dental issue, fight the urge to avoid the dentist. It will be much better for your health-and your wallet-if you address the issue when it is smaller. The longer you ignore a problem, the larger and more costly it can be to fix it. Seeing your dentist at least two times a year for a professional exam and cleaning is the best way to stay on top of your oral health. These visits allow your dentist the opportunity to catch any concerns before they balloon out of control and end up being more costly to treat.
If your children are covered under Medicaid they are guaranteed comprehensive dental benefits under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). However, Medicare doesn’t currently cover routine dental care or most dental procedures for adults.
Prices Vary for Dental Procedures Depending on the Provider
It often pays for you to inquire about the costs of dental procedures from different providers. Prices can vary quite a bit. Some of the factors that influence how a dentist sets prices are the specific costs of doing business for their individual practice and market prices. Unfortunately, most practices don’t post a price list for you to review. However, there are steps you can take to understand the price you were quoted, ensure you are being charged a fair price and to understand price variations between providers:
- Get a second opinion – Call around to other providers.Getting a second opinion can give you peace of mind. If two providers agree on the treatment plan and the prices are comparable, it’s a good sign that you were quoted a fair price. It never hurts to call around to verify what you would be charged for your treatment at another provider.
- Professional dental organizations conduct pricing surveys – Professional dental organizations such as the American Dental Association (ADA), Dental Economics and even dental insurance providers will conduct pricing surveys. These surveys list the average costs of dental procedures for different regions of the United States. You can also check out Delta Dental’s cost estimator where you can search by zip code to receive the average cost range of a particular dental procedure in your area.
- Differences in the dental procedures – A word of caution: Be sure when you are comparing prices that you are comparing the exact same dental procedures. For example, dental filling charges vary based on the type of material used for the filling as well as the number of surfaces involved. The lower quoted price may not be best if you are not doing an “apples-to-apples” comparison. Another tip is to be sure you ask your provider about the recommendations they are giving you. Since amalgam (silver-colored) fillings are typically less expensive you might ask why your dentist is recommending resin composite (tooth-colored). There are likely very good reasons for the recommendation, but don’t be afraid to ask for clarity. We understand that price is an important consideration, but the reasons for your specific treatment plan are also important to consider.
Keep Dental Care Affordable with these 7 Steps
Many variables that contribute to prices for dental procedures are out of your control. But there are things you can do to keep your dental care affordable:
- Provider selection – Does your provider offer a dental plan? When a dentist is affiliated with a larger dental organization, prices are typically lower than with independent offices since there are economies of scale for supplies. Larger dental groups are also more likely to have financing and special offers that help keep dental services affordable.
- Brush and floss daily – Preventative measures are key to having healthy teeth. You are less likely to need expensive dental procedures if you brush twice a day and floss daily. Be sure you use fluoride toothpaste. Drink lots of water and eat healthy foods while keeping sugary drinks and treats to a minimum.
- Get professional cleanings and exams two times a year – Regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning are critical. Don’t be tempted to put off these appointments to save money. The reality is that if you start to skip on your preventative care, it will most likely lead to more invasive-and expensive-dental procedures in the future.
- Ask your dentist about your treatment options – For many dental concerns, there are various treatment options available to you. Tooth loss can be treated with dental implants, bridges and removable dentures and they all have different costs and patient benefits. To be sure you’re informed about your treatment plan, be sure to ask your dentist about the treatment options available to you.
- Benefits of a dental plan – A great way to make your dental care more affordable is to enroll in a dental plan. These typically give you free exams and X-rays and significant discounts on other dental services when you pay the low annual fee. Dental plans typically publish their discounts which brings much-needed price transparency to your healthcare costs. Enrolling in a dental plan is easy. Everyone qualifies and members can take advantage of plan discounts immediately.
- Financing – Most dental practices offer a variety of financing plans to help patients afford the care they need. It is often possible to access care with little or no down payment. Low-interest rates and flexible financing terms make paying for your dental services as easy as possible.
- Inquire about special offers – Many dental offices extend a new patient offer or other promotions throughout the year. Ask your provider’s office staff to find out where you could find out about any special promotions happening and how you to be notified about them in the future.
At Monarch Dental, we know budgeting for dental procedures can be challenging. We are here to help you prepare for an unexpected dental procedure and to figure out your best options. Be sure you schedule your next appointment today, since being proactive about your preventative dental care is one of the best ways to keep your dental costs low.