Want to Save at the Dentist? Brush Up on These Tips


NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Everyone wants a set of chipper choppers, but they don't want to pay through the teeth to get them.

That’s a problem, because putting off going to the dentist can cost you big bucks. According to a recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, 34% of American stopped going to the dentist after the onset of the Great Recession in 2008.

But saving $150 by skipping a dental check-up can lead to a $1,000 bill down the road to fix a major dental problem, like a root canal or a crown.

Maybe that’s why dental office profits have risen steadily from 2008 to 2010, according to data from the financial services firm Sageworks.

How can you keep your teeth in good shape, while keeping your bank account in good shape, too? Try these five tips before you hit the dental chair:

Shop around. Too often, consumers pick a local dentist for convenience, and often because the dentist fits their insurance plan. Before you go that route, pick five dentists and ask for a price list. You’ll be surprised how the price lists will reveal a disparity in the amount of money different dentists charge. An extra tip: Ask if the dentists provides any “free" services, like cleanings or X-rays. Take advantage of the ones that do.

Get a “family” break. When considering a new dentist, ask for a 10% discount for bringing your entire family into the deal. The dental industry is a volume business, so the more teeth you bring into a practice, the better for the dentist. The chances are good the dentist will go for the deal.

Go for “low volume” times. Dental practices are like hotels in that any unused seat costs them plenty. That’s why it’s a good idea to book an appointment on low-traffic times like late Friday afternoon, when most people aren’t at the dentist. Make sure to ask for a 10% discount for a late Friday visit – chances are the dentist could go along rather than risk facing an empty chair.

Pay cash. Dentists love patients who pay in cash, and better yet, who pay a lump sum rather than string things along with monthly payments. So if you have a big dental job, like braces for the kids or root canal work, offer to pay the whole thing up front, with cash, if an ample discount is available.

Invest in a dentist discount plan. A dental discount plan – these are not dental insurance plans – can save you 10% to 50% on many dental procedures. Individual plans go for around $100 annually, and family plans can be had for $150 per year. Scout around and find a plan for you. Start at DentalPlans.com.

There’s no reason to pay through the teeth for a dental visit. Follow the tips above and keep your wallet in shape, as well as your choppers.

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