How to Slash Dental Bills (and Keep Your Teeth)

Some good oral hygiene and these tips on getting affordable care will help you keep your teeth — and your wallet — intact.

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy isn’t just a question of vanity. Sure, fresh breath and a sexy smile are great social assets. But oral health also has a lot to do with overall wellness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, dental disease may be linked to health issues such as premature birth and low birth weight, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart), osteoporosis and even Alzheimer’s disease.

A twice-annual cleaning and exam can help you stay healthy — and that ounce of prevention will help save you far more costly work — but even cleaning can run up a bill of several hundred dollars.

So, the question is, how to stay on top of it without breaking the bank?

Dentists often advertise some super deals through social buying sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial, local “shopper” newspapers and even the famous blue envelope from Valpak. Let me bear witness to deals that do exist: While living in Seattle, I should tell you that I redeemed a Valpak coupon: $29 for cleaning, X-rays and a free teeth-whitening kit custom-made for me in the office.

Read such deals carefully, and take note of¬†expiration dates. If a voucher expires, you can still redeem it for the amount paid but you won’t get the same price on the deal. Suppose you spent $29 on a Groupon deal for cleaning and X-rays but forgot to book the appointment in time. You can still apply the $29 toward those services, but it’ll cost a lot more than $29.

Remember, too, that deep discounts, whether through social buying networks or a coupon in a local paper, are generally for new customers. You won’t get nearly as good a price on future visits.

Also keep in mind that this office might not be the most cost-effective game in town for later work. If the exam turns up an issue, write down the specific treatment needed and the total cost. Say you’ll get back to them regarding future appointments.

Next, use a list of average dental costs compiled by Consumer Reports to see if the charges seem reasonable. If not, ask friends and co-workers which dentists they use and call to compare fees for the same service.

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,445 more deals!