What Are My Options If I Don’t Have Dental Insurance?

Working in the dental field, I have a good understanding of fees associated with dentistry. Dental work is expensive. The materials are very expensive and made in few places around the world (usually Germany, USA and Canada). Most people avoid the dentist if they don’t have dental insurance but it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, be that way.

no dental insurance

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Prevention is Key

The mentality in North American, and what I practice everyday, is that it is better to prevent disease from happening, than treat disease when rampant. My job as a dental hygienist is to educate you and ideally through our combined efforts prevent you from ever needing any dental work. Though some dental issues are not preventable (genetics, accidents) almost all dental issues we see and treat everyday are preventable.

What Are My Options?

If you don’ t have dental insurance it’s not an excuse to not to go! If you have a pretty good track record, going to the dentist/hygienist at least once per year for a cleaning and full exam will go a long way. For an approximate price of $200/year your preventative care can be taken care of. Obviously some people need more work but going at least once per year is better than nothing. Setting aside even $20 per month in your budget is a reasonable start.

If you know you’ll need additional work figure out your options. Get an approximate price from your dental office and see if you can swing it financially. If you’re someone who doesn’t usually need more than one to two cleanings per year and a filling every few years, paying into dental insurance may be a waste of your money. Get the numbers and figure it out for yourself.

Teaching Facilities

I can’t speak for internationally but in Canada the universities that offer dentistry within their curriculum often have a public clinic attached to them. The school I went to had a great clinic where we would see anyone who needed work. They would be triaged by a graduating student and practicing dentist/hygienist to an appropriate student  based on their needs. The advantages being top quality work (working with a student who needs to meet competency requirements issued by the school  under direct supervision) and much less money. In Canada the schools pricing is approximately 50% that of the Canadian issued fee guide so whatever work you need there will be savings.

The biggest downside to having work done in a teaching facility is time. Given that you’re working with students and advisers it takes significantly more time for even the simplest of things. Time is money isn’t it? You need to weigh your options. If going to a dental school takes you away from making money you otherwise would be able to make, maybe it’s not worth the financial ”savings”.

The mouth is connected to the rest of the body. People tend to forget that neglecting their oral health can have systematic effects. Yes I’m bias, but oral health is a necessary component to any budget, insured or not. I’ve seen (many times) what can happen if you don’t maintain your oral hygiene routines and it can be bad both financially and otherwise.

14 thoughts on “What Are My Options If I Don’t Have Dental Insurance?

  1. For me, adding dental coverage didn’t make sense. The premiums were $600 per year and it only covered routine cleaning which costs me around $200/year. I instead make it a point to brush/floss/rinse and I save a little bit from each paycheck for healthcare. Luckily I haven’t had any major issues aside from a cavity a few years ago.

    • So many people pay for dental insurance and rarely capitalize on their coverage! If you’re having the odd filling (or even emergency visit) plus a cleaning or two per year it’s not as expensive as most people think.

  2. I worked before with one company and one of the benefits is free access to the Dentist or for any dental care. What we have to do is booked an appointment. Our previous company pay dental services to the certain Dental clinic every month.

  3. I’ve been waiting for my dental benefits to kick-in at work, and can’t wait to go in next week. It’s only been a year since my last appointment, but I’ve always had issues with my teeth. (Apparently my teeth are really soft and groovy, making them more susceptible to cavities?)

    The college I work at does offer a dental clinic like you mentioned. It’s a $20 fee, but they say it takes about 3 2-hour sessions (6 hours total) to get everything done for a routine check-up. Seems like a lot of time, but at that price, it’s probably worth it for those in need.

    • Being ‘prone’ to cavities is such a multifactorial thing it’s hard to say. If you have super deep grooves and they’re not sealed (pit and fissure sealants are usually placed as adult molar erupt starting around 7 yrs of age) then yes, it’s tough for you to clean but having ”soft” teeth isn’t really a think unless you have a rare genetic abnormality in where the enamel literally doesn’t form properly (I’ve only ever seen it once). Honestly SOO much of our dental issues are dietary related. Wine. Coffee. Candy. Fruit. Juice. Milk…all the good stuff. I could go on with my lesson. Drink water, neutralize the acidity in your diet, chew sugarless gum…it all goes a LONG way.

  4. When we knew my husband needed to go to the dentist we signed up for a dental discount plan that was $23/month for our family of 5. It was definitely worth it, as it saved us lots of money on his root canal. The best part is that you can cancel anytime and get back on it later. As soon as I get the guts up for a check-up, we will cancel the plan.

  5. You can buy dental coverage at a lot of places. For routine dental items, like exams, etc. it doesn’t pay to have insurance. Most policies only cover $1,000 anyway.

    Dental insurance is not really insurance. It is pre-paid services. Medical insurance doesn’t have a cap, that is much more important.

  6. Getting your teeth cleaned annually (our insurance actually allows twice a year covered 100%) is essential to maintaining your teeth. I haven’t had much of an issue with cavities and other dental care, but my wife and son have – so I’m really glad I have dental insurance through my employer!

  7. Wow, this mouth stuff is one of the most important things to stay on top of for better overall health. Everything I read says keeping your mouth and teeth in good shape is essential. Flossing every day and using a pick appliance to scrape of stuff is the best thing to do. Beg, borrow and steal to get to the dentist every 6 months!

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