Most patients walk into a dental surgery not knowing what to expect, aside from a hefty bill at the end. If you regularly leave the dentist with a sinking feeling that you paid more than you should have, these expert tips are here to help.
The following tips come from Dr David Hills, founder of comparison website tool iNEEDaDentist. From straight-up prevention to negotiating dental quotes and shopping around, there are plenty of ways to minimise your dental bills. Here are four to keep in mind during your next appointment.
Prevention is the cheapest option
"Firstly, try to avoid large bills and major dental work by visiting your dentist for regular checkups," Dr Hills suggests. "Also, taking good regular care of your teeth by brushing, flossing and rinsing will mean you have less need for fillings and expensive dental work. In fact, some people require none at all!"
You can find some effective teeth brushing techniques here.
You spend two minutes in the morning and two at night brushing your teeth. Instead of just standing around, make even better use of that time by incorporating a few simple movements for balance, flexibility and strength.
Look for time saving options
"Time is money right? Taking time off work to see the dentist is expensive if you don’t have sick leave," explained Dr Hills. "Look for a dentist that can complete your treatment in fewer appointments – for example, CEREC dentists can complete a crown in one visit and not two or more."
"Some dentists offer extended hours and weekend appointments as well making it easier to get your work done without the need to skip work."
If you hold a Health Care Card, some non-cosmetic procedures are also covered by public oral health services. You can check your eligibility by visiting your state government's health page.
Negotiate a quote
"Bargaining with your dentist is not something you may have considered but it can be done. Firstly, ask your dentist if they can offer a discount for paying for all of your dental work in advance. Secondly, find out if your dentist offers interest-free payment plans such as zipMoney, which will help spread out the financial hit."
You shouldn't be afraid to ask cost-related questions at the dentist. If a procedure seems too expensive, enquire whether there are cheaper alternatives available. Whatever you do, don't wait until the bill arrives to query costs.
Get a Second Opinion
"There can be a huge variation in dental bills with some dentists even charging up to 100 per cent more for the same procedure," Hills admits. "And a lot of patients don’t even realise they have a right to ask for a quote so that they can find out from other dentists if the work is reasonable and required."
"I’ve even seen cases where the same dentist charges different prices for the same work, depending on the suburb in which it takes place. Some of this comes down to the cost of rent and other operating expenses, and while there might be some bells and whistles at the top end, in many cases the treatment is exactly the same. This is why it pays to get a second opinion."
"And while every mouth is different there are some common procedures that almost all dentists do – crowns, bridges, whitening, fillings and tooth extractions all fall into this category."