Tips on saving at the dentist

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Heading to the dentist can be a real pain in the mouth and a pain on your wallet (KTRK)

Heading to the dentist can be a real pain in the mouth and a pain on your wallet. But there are some ways to help save money on your next visit.

Fear causes many people to avoid the dentist at all costs, but that's one of the worst things you can do when it comes to saving money.

"Anything that's diagnosed as an issue or problem in the mouth is not going to get better with time," said Grant Sadler, CEO of GMS Dental Centers. "It's only going to get worse, and getting worse means getting more expensive."

The first step to saving at the dentist office is regular check-ups and good oral hygiene.

"Something that's discovered in the exam that could be a filling today, if it's not addressed, then it's going to become perhaps a crown or maybe even an abscess or root canal. The cost just escalates dramatically," Sadler said.

Another savings tip is to try a discount dental plan.

"It's very effective, it's not insurance but in fact, depending on the services provided it can be better than insurance," Sadler said.

At GMS Dental Centers, plans start at $6.50 a month.

"For that you get a discounted fee schedule that could be as much as 80 percent on preventative procedures," Sadler said.

There are several plans like this at local dentist offices, and there are no exclusions, deductible, waiting periods, or maximums. If you already have insurance, you can use these plans after your deductible is expended.

If that is still out of your budget, try visiting a dental school.

"The dental schools are a great facility for that, but you have to understand that it's students doing the work. What might take 30 minutes in a dental office could take four hours," Sadler said.

Sadler says the reason is because students are still learning and each step has to be approved by a supervisor. Because of this, Grant says the waiting list seems to be long.

It also pays to be a smart shopper. You can look up general dental care prices in your area using Fair Health's cost lookup tool. This can help you plan for any anticipated out of pocket costs.

Also, it doesn't hurt to ask your dental office for deals. For many, there are slow times of the year or week where they offer discounted fees to help fill empty space.

For more information, visit the Consumer Health Alliance.
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