I probably see at least one person a week that tells me they stopped going to the dentist for a period of time because they lost their insurance. Or that they haven’t seen the dentist in years because their job doesn’t provide dental insurance. This is always frustrating for me, because I know that these patients could actually be saving money if they had continued to come for preventative visits and could have better health and less dental problems too.
Assuming you’re new to an office, preventative care in your first year will probably cost around $500 if you had to pay for it all out of pocket. In the following year it would most likely drop to around $350. If you’re already an established patient in an office, that means that you can continue to see your dentist for routine preventative visits for just $350 a year. To put that in perspective, the average American spends about $600/year on basic cable (that figure doesn’t include internet or premium channels).
Even if you have one or two cavities a year in addition to your routine hygiene visits, if a person were to budget $500 a year for their dental care, they would be pretty well taken care of.
Now, for those patients who return to their regular routine care within 12-18 months, if they have good homecare, they will probably get back on track pretty quickly without much additional expense. But for those who go 2 years or more without preventative care, they generally return to the dentist with gum disease and other dental problems. The average patient I see who has neglected their care for 2 or more years ends up needing a MINIMUM of $1000 in treatment. If you have a typical dental plan, you will likely pay about half of that out of pocket.
The other scenario I see a lot is people who believe that coming routinely is more expensive than coming just when something hurts.
And boy are they wrong. We already know that the cost of preventative care is pretty affordable. Now let’s go over the cost of a toothache. Aside from the fact that you are allowing disease to progress in your body, you are also setting yourself up for a costly visit to your dentist. If you have an infected tooth requiring a root canal, this can cost anywhere from $700 – $2500! When faced with this problem, many people elect to extract the tooth instead. Unfortunately replacing that lost tooth costs even more; anywhere from $900-$4000 per tooth! This especially becomes a problem when a person elects to have one tooth pulled after another. Over the years, they end up with very limited chewing ability and end up with some pretty costly options.
If you’re reading this thinking about how many years it’s been since you’ve seen a dentist, I’ll tell you what I tell all my patients who have lapsed in their care: We can’t go back in time, so let’s just figure out what’s going on and we’ll find a way to make it fit into your schedule and your budget. If you’d like more information on making dental treatment affordable, call and talk to our financial coordinator, Heinz. He’ll go over your options with you. We believe that everyone should be able to afford a healthy smile.