Don't let your teeth suffer due to high health care costs - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Don't let your teeth suffer due to high health care costs

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We all know health care can be costly, and a lot of people are finding themselves skipping dental visits because of it.

Experts say there are a number of ways for you to get the care you need without it taking a big hit to your wallet.

When people don’t have dental insurance, many of them just don’t go to the dentist. And many times a minor problem can lead to a major problem.

“That is the prime time and more important time to seek dental treatment. So that way you can actually save more money by catching things earlier on. That way, disease that can get worse and be more costly, can be prevented,” said Dentist Delaine Farias.

If you're looking for a way to cover or lower the costs of dental care, buying private dental insurance is one option, but it can be costly and often comes with a cap.

Many private insurance policies only cover so much, and you can still owe thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Another insurance option is a Dental HMO which will cover things like routine cleanings and offer discounts on other procedures.

You could also join a dental savings plan, which costs about $100 per year for an individual or $250 for a family.  

A dental savings plan isn't health insurance but it does connect you to a network of dentists who have agreed to provide discounts on their services.

“Another option too, is many offices offer financing through companies that will sometimes give you a zero percent interest rate for a year many times,” said Farias.

You can also try and negotiate with your dentist to see if they can offer you a lower price. Or contact a dental school to see if they offer discounted services.

“That is when we look at donating our time and our salary to help out that patient. But is it definitely on a case-by-case basis,” said Farias.

“We like doing what we do, and we want to do the best we can to help our patients. If we can’t help them out, we will try and direct them to the proper place where they may be able to get the assistance that they need,” said Farias.

But your best bet for keeping those high dental bills down is practicing good oral hygiene at home: Brushing your teeth twice a day, using soft bristles to brush, fluoride toothpaste, and fluoride mouth rinse.

Dentists also recommend cutting back on sugary food and acidic drinks like soda that can erode the enamel on your teeth.

About 64 percent of Americans have dental insurance.  Nearly all of them have coverage through work or a group plan like AARP, Medicaid, Tricare (for military families) and the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Most dental preferred provider organizations and regular insurance (indemnity) plans have an average deductible of $50 and a maximum yearly benefit of $1,000.

Only 2 percent to 4 percent of Americans with dental insurance use up their yearly maximum allowance.

 It may be less expensive to pay out of pocket than buy a plan.

Fees vary by dentist’s office and by geographic region.

Here are average costs in the U.S. for several common procedures, from the ADA Health Policy Institute’s 2013 Survey of Dental Fees (the latest data available):

  • Teeth cleaning (prophylaxis) adult: $85
  • White dental filling (one surface, anterior): $149
  • Silver filling (one surface, primary or permanent): $125
  • Porcelain crown fused to noble metal: $1,003
  • Complete series of intra-oral X-rays: $124

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