Dear Nancy,

I don't have dental insurance and can't afford to go to my dentist. What can I do? And why does dentistry cost so much, anyways?

Dear No Dental Insurance,

If you don't have dental insurance, please do not delay going to your dentist until you are suffering with a horrible toothache. I know dentistry can be expensive, but preventative maintenance is the best approach to your dental care.  If you wait until you are in pain, then the issue may be bigger and more expensive than if you'd gone before it started hurting. Get your teeth the attention they need when problems are small, and you will save yourself some hassle in the long run.

No Dental Insurance
No Dental Insurance

Taking the initiative to visit your dentist for a check-up, a few necessary radiographs and possibly a cleaning is the best route to take. If you haven't gone in a while, the first visit may be more expensive. But once the initial visit is complete, your return check ups (whether they are 6 months, 9 months or yearly, as decided between you and your dentist) are much less expensive.  This is because you have already established a chart and your return visits are on a preventative basis instead of a "new patient" basis.

There are different options available for those who don't have dental insurance.  You can talk to your dental office receptionist and inquire about your different options.  I tell my patients that their options are to set up:

  1. a payment plan;
  2. individual dental insurance; or
  3. a Dentalcard.

Read More: Why doesn’t my dentist just accept payment from my dental insurance company?

Payment plans and individual dental insurance have been available for many years, and they work for many patients. The newest idea is plan 3, Dentalcard financing.  This is a financial institution that offers financing for patients who are interested in going ahead with the treatment plan outlined by their dentist, and payment plans or dental insurance are not an option.  They will work with you, and make arrangements best suited to your budget, and in turn, they will pay the dentist directly.  Most offices will have pamphlets that will give you more information if needed.

Now for the second part of your question, "why does dentistry costs so much?" My answer would be, like everything else in today's society, overhead is the biggest contributing factor.  The cost of dental equipment, instruments, material used in restorative procedures, sterilization products which are most important in making sure you are looked after and all procedures are safe for you and the environment.  The list goes on.  These are the costs that the dentists incur so that they can make sure the office runs with precision and accuracy, and your care is utmost and foremost.  There are no corners cut when it comes to overhead costs.  The ultimate care of your oral health, the cleanliness of the clinic and the operation of the dental team is included in those costs.

I hope I have answered your questions. Always remember that you are always welcome to stop in and visit if you have any others! I'll leave you with this piece of wisdom: "BE TRUE TO YOUR TEETH, AND THEY WILL NEVER BE FALSE TO YOU."