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Dental care doesn’t need to break the bank.

Dental care isn’t cheap, but it can be more affordable than you realize. According to the CDC, over a quarter of adults have untreated tooth decay, and nearly half of adults have signs of gum disease. Many adults avoid dental visits, allowing cavities, chips, and other damage to worsen simply because they believe they can’t afford the costs of treatment.

Unfortunately, oral health issues will only get more serious over time and can eventually lead to more invasive and expensive treatments. To avoid future issues and ensure healthy teeth for life, it’s important to understand what options you have to make your dental office visits kinder to your bank account.

Here are 5 ways to make your dental care more cost-effective.

1. Don’t skip preventative dental visits.

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This couldn’t apply more to dental care.

The affordability of dental care is directly related to the type of treatment needed. When you take great care of your teeth and mouth, the chances of an issue occurring are lessened. In turn, you’re less likely to end up with a serious condition that requires expensive treatment. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to ensure your dental care is affordable is to take excellent care of your teeth and keep up with preventive dental visits.

Most dentists recommend patients come in for a checkup every six months. In fact, some insurance companies require patients to stick with the six-month schedule. Your dentist will likely recommend an annual deep cleaning, as well, though you may choose to do this every six months during your normal checkup.

All in all, the best way to ensure your oral health is up to par and reduce the chances of expensive visits is to visit your dentist regularly. If you do have an issue that needs treatment, such as a small cavity, your dentist will be able to address it quickly before it potentially becomes a root canal or even an extraction.

2. CareCredit is popular for a reason.

CareCredit is a very popular health care credit card offered by the majority of dental facilities, including Millenium Dental.

CareCredit is ideal for patients needing assistance with dental financing and can be used for a number of different treatments, including preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. Some examples of procedures covered by CareCredit include checkups, endodontics, periodontics, teeth cleanings, fillings, dental implants, crowns, Invisalign, braces, and more.

CareCredit is subject to credit approval, although you might be surprised to find that you don’t need a spectacular credit rating to get approved for a card. The best way to find out more about CareCredit is to speak to someone at your dental office to learn more. Chances are they’ll even have the forms ready to go, and you could get instant approval.

3. Know your insurance benefits.

A large number of individuals don’t know much about their dental insurance aside from simply knowing they have it. Gaining a better understanding of what your dental insurance covers is really important when it comes to affordability and seeing what is (and isn’t) covered.

One of the most common types of general dental insurance is “100-80-50” coverage. This plan covers 100% of costs for preventative cleanings and care, 80% of costs for common dental procedures (i.e. fillings), and 50% of costs for major dental work (i.e. bridges). You should also figure out if there is an annual cap on your insurance, as many plans do have one.

Most dental insurance plans don’t roll over to the new year, which means you should take advantage of what’s available if you’re still under your annual cap. For example, if you know you have a large cavity or another issue that needs to be addressed, work with your dentist and see what you can get done before the year is up to get as much as possible out of your insurance plan.

4. Budget ahead and save money.

If you already know ahead of time that you have a few dental health issues that will need to be addressed in the future, it’s a good idea to start saving up cash now. Practice the personal financial plan of sinking funds by looking into your budget and seeing how much you can set aside every month for any future appointments.

Having cash set aside for dental emergencies is really important, even for those that have healthy teeth overall. By having this nest egg saved, your finances won’t be as negatively affected with a higher bill than anticipated if your dentist happens to notice a small cavity, chip, or crack during your next checkup or cleaning. You might even be able to get the issue addressed immediately with your cash savings rather than having to wait to save money after the fact.

5. Explore dental insurance alternatives.

If you’re in a tough spot and aren’t able to get dental insurance, don’t worry! There are a number of dental insurance alternatives that may be the right fit for you so you can continue with a treatment plan while still keeping it affordable.

Some organizations focus on adults and families, while others focus only on kids. If your children need braces, Smiles Change Lives could be able to help if you fall within their income bracket. Smile for a Lifetime is another option for adults, as well as children. You can also look into city- or state-specific dental assistance programs.

You can also look for affordable dental insurance plans on websites, like DentalPlans.com. This site offers members discounts on dental services and could offer anywhere from 10% to 60% coverage on costs. There are a huge number of dentists that accept this dental insurance, including Millenium Dental.

Chat with your dentist.

One of the best ways to figure out how you can save money on your dental care is to ask your dentist directly. Your dentist’s goal is to help you achieve a smile you love and a good level of general oral health. An important step in this process is helping you devise a treatment plan that is affordable with your level of income.

Don’t be afraid to be honest with your dentist about any concerns with affordability, as they are there to help you. You may also schedule an appointment with a manager at your dental office to help you go over insurance benefits, alternative payment options, and assist you with setting up a CareCredit account.