Why are dental procedures so expensive?

Ways to Cut Dental Procedure Costs

For those who'd rather not spend an arm and a leg to keep their teeth healthy, there are a few ways to cut dental costs. The most popular is dental insurance, which is similar to general insurance and offers options like traditional indemnity plans, as well as preferred provider and health maintenance plans. Most policies pay for preventive care like checkups but cover only a portion of higher-cost procedures like root canals and orthodontic work. If you're considering dental insurance, you should clarify the procedures covered and determine whether your current dentist (if you have one) accepts the insurance [sources:Payne,Konrad].

Certain dental costs can be paid for through a flexible spending account, which doesn't reduce the cost of the procedure itself, but instead works like a savings account to pay for medical costs. The account is set up through your employer, who sets aside a designated amount of your pretax paycheck to go toward medical and dental expenses [source: Payne].

In addition to these savings, people looking for low-cost dental care can often find it at their local dental school, which typically offers affordable care provided by dental students who are supervised by dentist instructors. New York University's Dental Faculty Practice, for example, serves more than 350,000 patients in greater New York City at rates lower than most local private practices. Generally, dental school patients can expect to pay as little as 30 percent of what they would for the same services at a traditional dental practice [sources: NYU, Konrad].

Finally, there are no better weapons in the fight against exorbitant dental costs than your toothbrush, floss and regular professional cleanings. Brushing and flossing can help prevent plaque buildup and cavities, and other problems that do arise can be nipped in the bud at your cleanings [source: Konrad].

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  • Butler, Sarah Lorge. "Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off?" Moneywatch.com. April 15, 2011. (Oct. 21, 2011) http://moneywatch.bnet.com/saving-money/blog/family-finance/is-your-dentist-ripping-you-off/4240/
  • Connecticut General Assembly. "Substitute Senate Bill No. 392." March 30, 2010. (Oct. 21, 2011) http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/FC/2010SB-00392-R000206-FC.htm
  • KAB Dental. "Large Dental Equipment." (Oct. 21, 2011) http://www.kabdental.com/dental-equipment/x-ray-panoramic/x-ray-p-manufacturer.htm
  • Konrad, Walecia. "How to Manage Dental Costs, With or Without Insurance." The New York Times. Sept. 4, 2009. (Oct. 21, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/05/health/05patient.html
  • Marcus, Mary Brophy. "Many Americans Say They Forgo Routine Dental Care." USA Today. March 11, 2009. (Oct. 21, 2011) http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-03-10-dental-skip_N.htm
  • New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry. "Patient Information." (Oct. 21, 2011) http://www.nyu.edu/dental/patientinfo/info.html
  • Payne, January W. "Taking the Bite Out of the Cost of Dental Work." U.S. News and World Report. Feb. 14, 2008. (Oct. 21, 2011) http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2008/02/14/taking-the-cost-out-of-the-bite
  • SmartaHealth. "Cost of Filings." (Oct. 21, 2011) http://smartahealth.com/howmuchdo_fillings_cost.html
  • Sweeney, Camille. "More Fun Than Root Canals? It's the Dental Vacation." Feb. 7, 2008. (Oct. 21, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/fashion/07SKIN.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1319248851-65S56C5NjR2DwapD3aNp6A
  • The Wealthy Dentist. "Cost of a Molar Root Canal? $1,000." (Oct. 21, 2011) http://thewealthydentist.com/surveyresults/113-cost-of-root-canals.htm

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