It’s possible to be too frugal when it comes to your personal health. When you do a poor job at maintaining healthy teeth and try to save money by avoiding the dentist, you can actually end up with incredibly expensive dental bills as a result.
Your health and your teeth need to be steadily maintained over time. This requires regular visits to the dentist and dental insurance. You simply must make room in your monthly budget for these additional expenses or you’ll end up with a much larger expense in the long run.
Dental Hygiene Habits
The vast majority of your savings with dentist bills will come from taking proper care of your teeth. You need to brush a bare minimum of twice a day but three times a day is best. Brushing a once a day is a guaranteed way to end up with cavities over time.
Flossing and even using mouth wash to maintain the health of your gums are both helpful. However, the amount of care that you need to put into your mouth really depends on your diet. Long before dentists existed, people really didn’t have many teeth problems. No, dentists haven’t created these problems – the sugar in your diet is the problem. Technically, if you eliminated 100% of your sugar intake, you probably could get away with brushing less than normal and still have healthy teeth.
Taking shortcuts here will cause a cascading chain of events that will result in you spending a lot of money to fix your teeth or losing all of your teeth eventually. You really don’t want to end up in that position because many people are forced to have their teeth pulled when they can’t afford to have them fixed correctly.
Regular Dentist Appointments
It is possible to avoid dentist appointments and still have healthy teeth, but you really have to take care of them religiously to be successful. In almost all cases, you’re much better off simply going to the dentist every six months for a regular checkup and cleaning.
Work this extra expense into your budget. Even if you have no insurance, it’s not worth saving a few hundred dollars a year by avoiding dental cleaning. In general, if you don’t have a checkup on a regular basis, you won’t really notice problems with your teeth until you start to form large cavities or have teeth break.
The idea behind regular appointments is to maintain a healthy mouth and also to catch problems early so they can be fixed quickly before they lead to bigger and more expensive problems.
One of the best ways to help ensure that you receive the proper care for your teeth is to simply buy dental insurance. You may be able to get this at a reduced cost through your employer. If you’re completely self-employed like me, you can still get dental insurance buying direct from insurance companies.
Ultimately, the expense of dental insurance is rather low. If you’re considering canceling your insurance to be frugal and save some extra money each month, I strongly urge you to reconsider. These savings can be deceiving since you’re saving money by neglecting something that is important and key to your long-term health.
Even if you can save a bit of money each year by avoiding insurance and paying for random appointments out of pocket, you’re more likely to delay or skip recommended treatments. This can result in even higher expenses in the long run.
Delaying Teeth Problems
I had problems with my teeth when I used to be broke. I didn’t have insurance for a very long time. Most years I couldn’t even afford to have a checkup and cleaning. After 8 years of not seeing a dentist, I had a lot of cavities and even a couple of broken teeth.
In the long run, problems with your mouth will only get worse and cost more. Even if you don’t think you can afford insurance or the cost of getting a cavity filled, you need to figure out a way to make that happen as soon as possible.
When you have a cavity, it messes with the balance of bacteria in your mouth and can actually lead to more cavities developing faster. For this reason, problems can compound quickly when you delay proper treatment.
Huge Dentist Bills
Initially, I wasn’t able to afford the few hundred dollars needed to fix my first cavity. Then more cavities developed, and existing ones got larger. The potential expense of a few hundred dollars ballooned into a few thousand.
By the time I finally had the money to get my entire mouth fixed, I had to spend over $8,000. Even a decade of avoiding insurance costs and dental visits didn’t save me anywhere close to that much money. That’s a big reason why I wanted to write this article – in hopes that my story can even convince one person to stop delaying the care of their teeth.
My situation wasn’t even very severe. I think I had 13 cavities and needed two crowns. It could’ve ended up much worse if I had waited just a couple more years to take care of my mouth. I know some people that have done much worse and had to spend $20,000 – $30,000 to fix everything. This is especially the case if you have teeth that cannot be saved and need to be pulled. Pulling teeth is much cheaper than fixing them, but to get the empty spot filled with a fake tooth implant it can cost thousands per tooth (and you have 32 of them).
Having all of your teeth pulled and replaced with implants could potentially run you upwards of $50,000 – $100,000. No amount of savings from cutting costs with your teeth or dentists can make up for this huge expense. Not to mention that you only get one set of adult teeth, so most people probably want to do everything in their power to avoid losing them. Making good dental hygiene decisions from the beginning is the key to success.